The end of May was refreshing in many ways. After celebrating my birthday (and thanks to all of you for such heartfelt wishes on my big "turning 30" post!), Andrew and I jetted off to Maui for a week, then returned to attend the wedding of some dear friends in California's wine country.
We did all the things you would expect on a tropical vacation. We ate fish, drank mai tai's, sought out the softest Hawaiian shaved ice, got a couples massage, went snorkeling in a secluded cove, read as many books as we could, took afternoon naps, and watched the sunset from our wrap-around balcony. Ah, the joys of island time. I miss it just typing these words. After a week or so, as much as part of you is renewed to return to the routines of life, the other part desperately wants to stay another day. Or two.
Naturally, food was high on our list of priorities. We avoided the hotel restaurants entirely and trusted recommendations from friends and locals. One of our favorite spots for breakfast and lunch was Choice Health Bar. We started every morning with Acai bowls and picked up the daily specials to take on the road while we searched for new beaches. Everything was raw, vegan, and satisfying. We were grateful to have discovered this gem of an establishment early on in our trip, because it ensured that we ate well and felt energized all week long. One of my favorite entrees of the week was a zucchini pasta with pesto and tomato wedges. It didn't look very impressive in the container, but once I swirled the pesto around with the "noodles" and took my first bite, I devoured it so quickly I didn't even pause to take a picture.
This is the kind of clean recipe you can make all summer long. It will do your body good to have a raw meal now and again, especially with all the ice cream, pies and tarts that will no doubt be making apperances at the summer picnic tables. This would be a great side to bring to a potluck, and makes a satisfying lunch on its own.
There's so much to love about zucchini this season (plus a long poem to pair with recipes; we're on a roll with Marge Piercy poems this summer!), that this is the first of a two part series on what to do when you have too much zucchini on hand. Actually, it's only fitting that this post extend another in a few days the same way zucchini grows in abundance this time of year, as the poem so humorously explains. You won't be able to read it without cracking a smile.
Attack of the Squash People
by Marge Piercy
To be continued...Part 2 coming later this week!
And thus the people every year
in the valley of humid July
did sacrifice themselves
to the long green phallic god
and eat and eat and eat.
They're coming, they're on us,
the long striped gourds, the silky
babies, the hairy adolescents,
the lumpy vast adults
like the trunk of green elephants.
Recite fifty zucchini recipes!
Zucchini tempura; creamed soup;
sauté with olive oil and cumin,
tomatoes, onion; frittata;
casserole of lamb; baked
topped with cheese; marinated;
stuffed; stewed; driven
through the heart like a stake.
RAW ZUCCHINI PASTA WITH SPINACH-BASIL PESTO
There are so many wonderful things about this recipe. To name just a few, dinner is ready in 10 minutes, it's raw, it's vegan, and it's a wonderful way to use the abundance of zucchini that summer offers. I actually tried it two ways, raw and cooked, and I enjoyed the raw version infinately more. It's cool and refreshing, no stove required.
For the pasta
3 medium zucchini
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
Pine nuts, a couple of tablespoons
For the pesto
*Pesto is very forgiving in terms of measurements, so you can easily make as much or as little as you'd like. Freeze extra pesto for another use. I used slightly more spinach than basil here, but you can adjust the measurements based on your taste and what you have on hand.
Spinach, about 4-6 very lightly packed cups
Basil, about 2-4 very lightly packed cups
2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 garlic clove
Salt and pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
To prepare the zucchini, cut off the ends, then use a serrated peeler to create ribbons. Place the "pasta" in a large bowl and set aside while you make the pesto.
Add the spinach, basil, pine nuts, garlic, a few cracks of pepper and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a food processor. Process to combine, then slowly stream in oil until the pesto comes together. You'll likely need between 1/4 and 1/2 cups of oil, depending on how many leaves you start with. Just aim for a pesto that's not too thick and not too thin. Test for seasonings and add additional salt if necessary.
Spoon some pesto into the bowl with the zucchini and stir until well combined. You can always add more, so start with just a few spoonfuls and add as you go. Once the zucchini is well coated, add the tomatoes and pine nuts, and toss again. Taste, adding more salt if necessary, and serve.