It is zucchini season, a time of year when cooks must explore creative ways to use their abundance of zucchini. My Mum used to say that if you leave your car windows open in August people will leave zucchini in your car; she said that no sane person woud grow it themselves. Well…. we all have to rebel somehow right?
So now that I have a garden full of zucchini, I find myself looking for new ideas. Zucchini bread, ratatouille and stuffed flowers are all wonderful, but here is one more recipe to add to your arsenal for the yearly zucchini war. This creamy vegetarian pasta is a combination of hazelnuts, basil, zucchini and cream, toss it with fresh pasta for an easy dinner.
Creamy Zucchini and Hazelnut Pasta(serves 2)
Heat the oven to 350F. Place hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 10-12 minutes. Give the tray a shake and check on them every few minutes. You are looking for them to be quite fragrant and starting to shine.
Remove the nuts from the oven and allow them to cool slightly. Remove any remaining skins by rubbing the nuts between your hands while wrapped in a dish towel. It doesn't have to be perfect but the skins can be bitter so you don't want too many of them. Roughly chop the nuts and set aside.
Put a big pot of water on to boil. Heat a large skillet to medium high heat and add the two tablespoons of olive oil. Add as much zucchini as you can while still having them all fit in one layer. Cook until starting to brown and then flip. As they are browned on each side remove to a paper towel and add more zucchini. Continue frying until all zucchini has been cooked. Add shallot and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until softened, about 3 minutes, stir in cream, nuts, and zucchini. Roughly chop the basil and add as well.
Generously salt the pasta water and add pasta to the boiling water. Cook until tender. While the pasta is cooking the cream sauce should reduce slightly. Season it to taste. Drain pasta and toss with sauce. Serve immediately with grated cheese.