jack's lemon mint zucchini long pasta

How does one arrive at a particular recipe in a particular book in ones cooking library on some particular day of the week? Often it is the result of a complex chain of circumstances, like most events in life. This time ani is struck by a sudden springtime cleaning urge to rid our kitchen cabinet storage area of some long overdue-for-use items. Two such items are discovered that can be fast-tracked to willing recipients at work, momentarily satisfying her quest. One many(too many!)-year-old special chocolate cake mix from a not so recent Philly food show, enticed by a free sample, and one pumpkin bread mix that most probably was a Christmas gift from bob's Vermont brother's family. The first needed zucchini, the second canned pumpkin, raisins and walnuts. bob offers to make a quick supermarket run. No, don't bother. bob insists, pulling himself away from the nightly Entertainment Tonight, and sacrificing the follow-up Access Hollywood. Only 10 minutes to the supermarket but  NPR captures his attention. Keeping him in the car in the parking lot for the second half of a  Terry Gross Fresh Air interview with the author of "When Religion Becomes Evil". Followed by a quick ingredient harvest and beeline home, arriving one hour after departure. "Where were you?"

So pumpkin bread gets chosen, done, taste tested. Yummy, even better spread with a little aging left over creme fraiche still lounging around in the fridge, no mold yet, must have been the pasteurization. Leaving the zucchini for another day. But bob bought extra for a healthy veggie dinner theme. Meanwhile an impulse buy from Amazon.com had arrived and had been getting some browsing action. One of those affinity suggestions—bob discovered used books were easier on the conscience as well as on the wallet and went for Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything, snapping up Cook's Illustrated Italian Classics collection and their Cook's Illustrated The Best Recipe when they flashed on the screen. Bulls eye. A Cook's Illustrated fan, these cookbook collections seemed like a great way for bob to catch up on all those issues he'd either missed or resisted while keeping his food literature habit under control. [Not to mention the TV show that had completely escaped his notice.]

The Italian one comes first. Jack Bishop is senior editor. A familiar name since his Italian vegetarian cookbook has been on our shelf for a few years eagerly awaiting use. Sure enough, the book's inside jacket mentions his Cook's Illustrated connection, unnoticed earlier. The Cook's Illustrated Italian is Italian cooking with a brain, in contrast with our bible from Marcella: Italian Cooking from the heart, both directed at Americans. bob checks out the tiramisu and finds pretty good food chatter in line with his own experience. Where is all this going you ask? What's the point?

Well, Jack's book is now implanted in bob's forward memory when the zucchini dinner theme needs a script the next day. The recipe jumps right up and says I'm the one. Do me. It calls for both mint and lemon—two of our favorite flavor enhancers. But ani's trying to watch the carb intake so the recipe gets tilted a bit towards more zucchini and less pasta, working with a half pound of spaghetti—no fettucine on hand. Either will work here.

Jack spent some time in Italy a few years after bob's full year residence in Rome, and like bob, tended to eat vegetarian without being one. Unlike bob, Jack had an Italian grandmother. Not fair!

So we stretch a little and like what we've done. Check out his other stuff. We will surely be doing so.

ingredients (low carb intake version)

1/2 lb spaghetti or fettuccine
2 T olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed
3 small zucchini, cleaned and cross-swiped into matchstick sliced cross-sections
   in a hand food processor
1 t lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
2 T lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1/4 c chopped fresh mint
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
parmigiano and extra black pepper on each individual serving

instructions

  1. Start the pasta water boiling. When boiling, salt and throw in the pasta and cook until al dente, then drain.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the zucchini. Zest the lemon. Squeeze the juice. Clean and chop the fresh mint. Press the garlic.
  3. Saute the garlic in the olive oil briefly in a large nonstick chef's pan.
  4. Throw in the lemon zest and zucchini and cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat until the zucchini softens up considerably, stirring occasionally.
  5. Dump in the lemon juice, mint, salt and pepper. Mix it up. Cook a minute or two.
  6. Cover and turn off the heat.
  7. When the pasta is done and drained, dump it into the chef's pan and mix well with the pasta, trying to evenly distribute the zucchini sticks with the pasta. Add an optional 1/4 c parmigiano directly to the mixture.
  8. Serve, freshly grating parmigiano and black pepper on each individual serving.

notes

  1. Slightly deformed from Jack Bishop's The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook : 350 Essential Recipes for Inspired Everyday Eating.
  2. bob first had a lemon pasta sauce in some unsophisticated trattoria just north of Piazza del Popolo in Rome. Surprising what great stuff you can find in run of the mill places in Italy. And often reasonably priced. Wish that were possible here.
  3. Illustration available.
jlmzpsta.htm: 19-may-2003 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]