Squash Pretending to Be Pasta

In this dish, the zucchini is cut into thin strands resembling spaghetti. For this dish you will need a fixed blade slicer (a.k.a. mandolin) of some sort such as a Ben-Riner. Use the comb that gets you closest to spaghetti.

INGREDIENTS:

4 – 6 medium zucchini, washed and ends trimmed (if you have different colors, even better!)
2 spring onions, top removed and saved for another use, halved through the root, and finely sliced along the length
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Extra Virgin olive oil as needed
1/2 tablespoon fresh marjoram or oregano, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pea sized bits and kept very cold
1/3 cup water

METHOD:

Using the medium comb of a Ben-Riner or mandolin, slice the squash into long strips.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, film the pan with oil. When the oil is very hot, add the onion strips. Toss to coat with oil and sauté until the onions are coloring and soften.

Spread onions around the pan bottom. If the pan seems dry, add enough oil to just film the pan, and make sure the oil is hot. Add the squash strips and toss to coat with the oil and mix in the onions. Turn up the heat to high. Keep the squash moving so it does not burn. Sprinkle with the herbs and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the squash is limp and looks like pasta. Remove the pan and place in a serving dish.

Get out the butter bits and put near the stove.

Turn the heat to medium. Add a little oil to the pan and then add the garlic. Stir, being sure to keep the garlic from burning. When the garlic is aromatic and turns translucent, add the water. Scrape the inside of the pan to get any bits that might be stuck to the pan bottom. Start adding a few butter bits at a time, swirling the pan so the butter melts smoothly and evenly. Continue to add the butter, a few bits at a time, swirling the pan to prevent the butter from breaking down. When all the butter has been added, you should have a nice emulsified butter “sauce” in the pan bottom. If it is still watery, you might need to use a little more butter as the sauce should look like a butter sauce, not water with butter in it. Add the vegetables back to the pan, toss to coat with the sauce, and serve hot.

CHEF NOTES AND VARIATIONS:

  • Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and/or white wine to the water for the sauce base. Don’t go overboard as the flavor of the squash is subtle.
  • Use a little cream, about 2-4 tablespoons, instead of butter; this would go quite nicely with lemon juice, too.
  • If you have blanched fava beans on hand, you could add a cup with the onions and mix them in, or sauté them separately and toss them on at the end with some Romano cheese.
  • Other herbs to use that go well are mint, flat leaf parsley, or sage. For sage, fry the leaves in the oil at the start of the dish, then remove them to a paper towel so they drain and get crisp. Scatter them over the squash when serving.
  • You could use this technique for the squash and make a “faux-lognese” sauce using ground mushrooms instead of meat for the tomato sauce.
  • If you wish to get fancy, make the dish and let it cool a little in a large non-reactive bowl. Then, use a long-tined roast fork to gather up some of the “pasta” and twirl the fork with one hand while cupping the strands with the other. Twirl and form a ball of “noodles”. Set the noodle ball on an oven-proof dish, and when they are all made and you are ready to serve, put them into a preheated oven to get hot, then use a spatula to move them from the oven to the plate.

YIELD: Serves 4

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