A couple of weeks ago I almost got into a fight with one of the employees at Trader Joe’s. I needed 1 small zucchini, but TJs rarely sells single vegetables. I couldn’t help but complain and wondered why I was stuck purchasing a pack of 8 fat and large zucchini when I only needed 1? What on earth was I going to do with it all?
I made shaved zucchini salad, smoked trout with white beans and zucchini, and zucchini with scrambled eggs, but my favorite use for the excess of zucchini was this pasta dish. It’s super flavorful thanks to a marcona almond and herb pesto, plenty of lemon juice, and a little bit of cream. Although there are a few steps, this easy meal comes together in about 30 minutes making it perfect for a quick and delicious weeknight dinner.
For the pesto:
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/4 heaping cup fresh herbs (parsley, mint, oregano, thyme, or cilantro – use a combination of what you have on hand)
1/4 cup marcona almonds, toasted
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pasta:
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
2 servings spaghetti or angel hair pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandoline
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons cream
Freshly ground black pepper and finely grated parmesan cheese, for serving
- Start by making the pesto: In a food processor, combine the garlic with the herbs, almonds, and cheese.
- Zest the lemon and add to the processor. Slice the lemon in half and squeeze half of the lemon juice into the processor.
- Process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add the oil, cream, and season generously with salt and pepper. Process until you have a thick paste like mixture.
- Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. If it is too thick, add more oil. If it is too herby, add a little more lemon juice. If it’s too lemony, toss in a little more cheese. Once the pesto is perfected, set aside.
- Next make the pasta: Bring a large pot of water, seasoned with 2 teaspoons of salt, to a boil. Add the spaghetti or angel hair and cook one minute less than instructed on the outside of the pasta package. If using angel hair, which cooks in just a minute, wait until the following sauce is almost ready. Do not drain.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.
- Stack the thinly sliced zucchini pieces and cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch pieces that are roughly the same size as the spaghetti. You want to make strings of zucchini. Repeat until all of the zucchini is sliced.
- Add the zucchini to the pan and cook, stirring, to make sure that everything doesn’t stick together, for 4 minutes.
- Add the red pepper flakes and season with salt and cook for another minute.
- Add the white wine and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the herb pesto and stir to combine everything. Add the cream and stir, simmering for 1 minute.
- Add the cooked pasta and a little bit of cooking water to thin out the sauce. Add more pasta water if necessary. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss everything to combine the pasta with the zucchini and coat the pasta in the pesto.
- Serve immediately with freshly ground black pepper and finely grated parmesan cheese, if desired.