Sunday, July 7, 2013

Meatless Monday: Pasta + Zucchini, Lemon, Chili & Burrata

The Perfect Simple Summer Produce Side Dish -
NK's Tomato Carpaccio
Recipe HERE
So did everybody have a great holiday weekend? 

Welcome to Monday! 
Don't all jump up and down at once. 

But if we're looking on the bright side, I can report that some really good meatless meals have been materializing in our kitchen of late. 

At the height of summer, when produce is especially great, going meat-free gets that much easier. 

There's nothing like walking into a farm stand or market and being totally inspired by their fruits and vegetables. (With Tomatoes in season, our Tomato Carpaccio pictured here is a great place to start.) That very thing happened to me recently and resulted in what is today's meatless Dinner, a vegetarian pasta dish that I hope you will like as much as I do. 

~In our Lumachine with Zucchini, Lemon, Chili, & Burrata, market-fresh Zucchini gets a quick saute and then marinates for about 10 minutes in Lemon Zest and Juice, as well as spicy Red Chilies. Once tossed with short Pasta or your choice, the Zucchini mixture is enhanced with fresh ribbons of Basil and, here's the topper -  runny and impossibly delicious dollops of Burrata Cheese. 

The result is a bright, herbaceous and lemony dish with a spicy Chili twist cooled by the mellow, creamy cheese. If you can't find Burrata, a good Buffalo Mozzarella will stand in just fine, but don't miss trying Burrata at least once in your life. And don't sample it too much while you're cooking this meal because if you are anything like me, you'll eat it all and have none left for dinner. 

What makes this dish great? Today's Pasta will enthuse even the most reluctant veggie eaters, or at the very least, those that groan when meat is missing from their dinner (ahem, Husband...). I will even go out on a further limb and propose that perhaps if you sub in another short pasta in a fun shape (remember Wagon Wheels?) and omit the spicy Chilies, you may even ge able to coax your vegetable averse kids into eating this.

Let's get to it. 

Lumachine with Zucchini, Lemon, Chili and Burrata
Serves 4 as an appetizer, 3 as an entree

Freshly Chopped Zucchini, Photo: NK 
2 Large Zucchini, well scrubbed. Cut in half lengthwise and sliced into thin half moons

2.5 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 large Garlic Cloves, lightly crushed

3 Small Dried Chilies (Such as Thai Bird Chilies), very finely chopped

Zest of 1 Large Lemon

1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice

Red Chilies, Photo: NK  
8 Ounces Burrata Cheese, cut into 1 inch pieces (try for about 3 pieces per person)

1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt (plus more for boiling Pasta)

1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper

5 Large Basil Leaves, cut into thin ribbons (chiffonade)

3/4 Pound Short Maccheroni such as Lumachine or other thimble-shaped Pasta

1. In a large skillet, heat Oil and Garlic Cloves over medium flame. Heat for about 3 minutes until Garlic becomes fragrant and begins to brown. Remove Garlic Cloves and discard.

Marinating the Zucchini, Photo: NK 
2. Add sliced Zucchini to the skillet and cook, stirring often, for about 4 minutes. Turn off the flame and season with a 1/4 teaspoon Kosher Salt and an 1/8 teaspoon of Black Pepper. Next, add the chopped Red Chilies, Zest of 1 Lemon, and a Tablespoon of Lemon Juice. Stir. 

3. Carefully pour the contents of the skillet into a heatproof bowl, juices and all. Set aside for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The longer it sits, the better it will be. Reserve skillet for finishing the Pasta.   Note: You could stop right here and end up with a really nice Vegetable Antipasto. You can also make this entire pasta recipe ahead by following the directions up to this step and refrigerate the Zucchini Mixture up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before using.

4. When ready to finish up the dish, boil your Pasta of choice in well-salted water according to the package directions. When Pasta is done, drain it well and pour it back into the large skillet over low heat. 

5. Toss the Zucchini Mixture with all its juices into the skillet. Stir to mix Pasta and Zucchini together. Add the ribbons of Basil and stir again. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking. 

6. Plate your Pasta and top each dish with 2-3 dollops of Burrata Cheese. Finish with an extra sprinkling of Black Pepper. Serve immediately and enjoy!  

Lumachine with Zucchini, Lemon, Chili, & Burrata, Photo: NK 

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