Penne alfredo w/ zucchini ribbons

One thing I seem to have a hard time with in my cooking is simplicity. I sometimes get so caught up in lists of ingredients and different cooking methods that I forget that food also tastes good as it is. I don’t always have to simmer big pots of curry for hours so that I can serve my family a quality meal. Take the caprese salad for instance; with only 4 ingredients (tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, olive oil) this little salad is just as satisfying, if not more so than any other salad that requires a shopping cart full of produce. It’s pretty too.

I was reminded of this idea of simplicity on my trip to Michigan while I watched Mario Batali cook. The dishes he prepared were simple, including very few ingredients, yet the steak he prepared was maybe one of the best things I have ever eaten. I need to take to heart a minimalist way of cooking—one that doesn’t cause my pantry to overflow with ingredients that “I’ll use again someday” and doesn’t leave me elbows deep in dishes.

I started tonight with this pasta. I based it on Mario’s recipe for Fettuccini alfredo and tweaked it to my liking (come on, I’m still working on this simplicity thing). The alfredo sauce isn’t your typical rich and thick cream sauce, but it is how alfredo is truly made in Italy. I added the zucchini ribbons for a shot of color, some texture and to make myself feel better about eating a massive bowl of pasta for dinner. It must have worked because the only remorse I felt was seeing the empty bowl and wishing there was more.

Before you cook the pasta you’ll start by making your zucchini ribbons. You’ll need 4 small to medium sized zucchinis and a vegetable peeler. Remove the stem pieces from each one and cut in half long-ways.

With a vegetable peeler start making long ribbons by running the peeler down the length of the squash.

You’ll end up with a pretty little pile that’s just screaming for you to take a picture of it.

Boil one pound of pasta -any shape will work; I had penne on hand- according to the package directions until just about done with a bit of a bite, or al dente. While they are cooking cut ½ cup of butter (yes, a whole cube… just go for a run tonight it’s worth it!) into 1/8″ cubes and place into a large bowl. Add ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese to the butter and set aside.

Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, using a slotted spoon, scoop the pasta out of the water and into the bowl with the butter and cheese. Toss until combined adding a little bit of the pasta cooking water to loosen it up.

Quickly (so your pasta doesn’t get cold) add the zucchini ribbons into the boiling water that you just removed the pasta from and cook for 1 minute or until tender but not falling apart. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the zucchini out of the water into the pasta bowl. Toss with a few grinds of black pepper, salt to taste, and 2 tbsp of olive oil and serve with more parmesan on top.

It’s simple, it’s easy, but sooo incredibly good. I hope you try it!

Penne alfredo w/ zucchini ribbons

Penne alfredo w/ zucchini ribbons

Ingredients

  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • 1/3 C butter
  • 1/2 C parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 4 zucchini squash, small-medium sized
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • more parmesan cheese for topping

Instructions

  1. Remove the stem pieces from each zucchini and cut in half long-ways. With a vegetable peeler make long ribbons by running the peeler down the length of the squash.
  2. Boil one pound of pasta according to the package directions in salted water until just about done with a bit of a bite, or al dente. While pasta is cooking cut 1/3 cup of butter (yes, 1/3 cup… just go for a run tonight it’s worth it!) into 1/8” cubes and place into a large bowl. Add ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese to the butter and set aside.
  3. Once the pasta is cooked use a slotted spoon to scoop the pasta out of the water and into the bowl with the butter and cheese. Toss until combined adding a little bit of the pasta cooking water to loosen it up.
  4. Quickly (so your pasta doesn’t get cold) add the zucchini ribbons into the boiling water that you just removed the pasta from and cook for 1 minute or until tender but not falling apart. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the zucchini out of the water and into the pasta. Toss with a few grinds of black pepper, salt to taste, and 2 tbsp of olive oil and serve with more parmesan on top.
http://www.heatherlikesfood.com/penne-alfredo-w-zucchini-ribbons/

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Comments

  1. Brandy Maquez says

    This recipe is horrible.
    Made it exactly as written and the parmesan cheese clumped into one giant soft ball.

    • Heather says

      Hi Brandy, I’ve had that happen to me too! It happened when I let my pasta cool down too much before adding the cheese. If there’s not enough heat to melt the butter and the cheese simultaneously they wont meld into a sauce. Hope this helps! This truly is one of my favorite, quick meals.

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