Vegetable Pasta with Zucchini Sauce
First, one part of the zucchini is boiled in a large amount of water until soft and tender, then cooked the same way as I would baigan bharta (Indian-style eggplant spread) but instead of only adding liquid smoke and plain yogurt, I also mixed in a little cream cheese. The second step is to sauté the rest of the zucchini with other vegetables. I also used diced carrots, green beans and sun-dried tomatoes.
Once all the ingredients are cooked, I combine everything and the result is a scrumptious meal. The smoky aroma from the zucchini sauce is very delicate and the added vegetables balance well with the softness of the pasta.
Yields: 6 servings1 (16-ounce) package mostaccioli pasta, cooked and drained
½ roasted green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoons liquid smoke (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground cumin, freshly ground
½ teaspoon ground coriander, freshly ground
½ teaspoon black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
4 tablespoons cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2-½ teaspoons salt
½ carrot, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
4 tablespoons curly parsley, chopped
For the zucchini sauce:
Trim the ends of the zucchini. Cut 3 zucchini into big chunks. In a pot, bring about 4 quarts of water to a full boil. Add the zucchini. Cook for about 20 minutes with the water still at full boil until soft and tender. The zucchini should sink to the bottom of the pot; no zucchini should be floating.
Drain the zucchini using a fine mesh colander. Discard the liquid. Place the zucchini pulp in a cheese-cloth and squeeze out as much excess moisture as possible.
In a nonstick pan, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add ½ the amount of the chopped yellow onion. Cook about 5-7 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add 2 teaspoons garlic. Cook until slightly golden. Turn off the heat. Add green bell pepper, sugar, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. Finish with lemon juice. Stir well.
In a mini-food prep, blend the boiled zucchini, yogurt, cream cheese, 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon parsley into a smooth paste. Finish with the liquid smoke, if using. Stir well. Set aside.
Sautéing the vegetables:
Cut the remaining zucchini into small slices.
Heat about 3 tablespoons of oil in a deep large pan. When the oil is hot, add the carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add a teaspoon of garlic. As the garlic becomes slightly golden, add the zucchini. Toss well. Make sure the zucchini is cooked on both sides and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the chopped green beans and stir for about 3-4 minutes until the color changes and becomes greener and glistening. Add salt. Do not over-cook the veggies, as they will finish cooking with the pasta. You still want the zucchini and green beans to hold their shape. Transfer the vegetables to a plate. Set aside.
In the same pan, heat the rest of the oil. Add the rest of the onions. Cook until fragrant and add the pasta. Stir until well incorporated. Add about ¼ cup of pasta water (remember to reserve some pasta water, vegetable broth or warm water). Toss the pasta for about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. If the pasta starts sticking to the bottom, add more pasta water. Add the zucchini sauce. Toss well for another 2 minutes until all the pasta is coated with sauce. Add the sautéed vegetables and sun-dried tomatoes. Adjust seasoning. Gently stir the pasta. Garnish with the remaining parsley.
I watched an episode of Good Eats with Alton Brown where he was explaining how to make liquid smoke. I haven't tried yet but I bought some from the store. A little liquid smoke adds a nice extra smoky aroma and flavor.
I decided to go with mild flavors but you could add roasted chile peppers to the sauce for a little kick.Published By: on October 2, 2010.