ZUCCHINE CON PESTO…ZUCCHINI WITH BASIL PESTO

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Yeah I know, Summer is over, what’s this Zucchine con Pesto out of season nonsense…ahh..certainly this dish will be at it’s best in the peak of the Summer growing season..but Zucchini are in the markets all year long, possibly not as sweet as the local summer grown, but they are still delicious.  Old school types refuse to believe that there are good vegetables to be had through the winter…some better than others.  I’ve found that most Fall thru Spring Zucchini have been a breath of fresh air from the earthy flavors of the seasonal root and cruciferous vegetables.  Pesto, if you make it in the summer you can freeze it in various forms, or pack it into olive oil sealed containers, or buy a decent brand in a store, frozen or jarred.  Where did this recipe come from?  It came from necessity.  Opening the fridge one night after work and having to come up with dinner in a hurry meant slicing the zucchini in the fridge into disks.  It meant thinking, what to do that would be delicious yet quick?  Well, on the door of the fridge was a jar of CENTO PESTO, imported from Italy.  All season long i make my own pesto.  I won this jar and 7 others! in a contest on Instagram.  Yay me!!! I then thought…wow, that pesto is packed with flavor, made of good stuff..hmmm. i’ll pan saute’ the zucchini cut in rounds till they blister in olive oil…then. add some garlic to the pan, then some peperoncino…THEN when the zucchini is tender move off the flame and stir in the pesto..not much…it’s not tasty when it’s over done..Just enough to create a “sauce” and coat the cooked zucchini.  Here’s the thing…unless you’re going to add it to a soup or sauce at the end..Pesto should not be cooked.  So…off the flame the pan went and 5 minutes late i stirred a spoon of pesto into the pan. Perfection reached!!

TIME:  about 40 minutes      SERVES: 4

5 small to medium ZUCCHINI (not the big ones..too much seed, too big for this recipe)

3 tbs. OLIVE OIL

3 sliced CLOVES OF GARLIC

KOSHER SALT

1/2 TSP PEPERONCINO (the Italian word for crushed dried hot red pepper/chile)

2 TBS. PESTO

 

Slice the zucchini in no more than 1/4 inch thick rounds.  Heat 1 1/2 tbs. olive oil in a wide pan and add as many slices as you can without them overlapping.  You may have to do them in two or three batches.  Leave the heat on medium or you will burn the exterior of the zucchini before the inside cooks.  I’d give them at least 8 minutes on one side.  Turn one over and if it’s blistered, you’re ready to turn them. Lightly salt them each time you add raw zucchini to the pan.  Let the other side blister as well, blistering meaning taking on nice color without burning.  Remove to a platter or dish and keep covered with foil as you finish the next batches.  Add more Olive Oil as necessary. Taste a zucchini, make sure it’s tender and seasoned. When you are done with the zucchini, in the pan you just cooked the zucchini in, add the garlic and peperoncino and let this  get fragrant, only takes about 1 minute to 1 1/2 minutes..do not let the garlic burn. Remove from the heat.   Now add the pesto and blend well with the oil being careful not to splatter yourself or all over the stove.  Now gently add the zucchini back into the pan and coat all the rounds with the “sauce”. This is one of my examples of LA DOLCE FAR NIENTE, real Italian style…the sweet joy and bliss of doing nothing..meaning..lazily hanging around enjoying good company and good food.  A plate of this zucchini does not have to be PIPING HOT..it can stay out at room temperature and infact, I think it taste better at room temperature.  Have  a table set with lots of these types of dishes and you can enjoy your guests and family instead of running back and forth into the kitchen.  A family style platter of this on the table or side board is perfect. It can be part of an antipasto or a “contorno” or side dish for a full meal.  However you serve it do not fuss..bring that LA DOLCE FAR NIENTE into your home.  Cooking is only a job if you get paid for it.  When you are home..enjoy!

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Imagine yourself along a canal off of the Venetian Lagoon…like this wonderful one in Burano outside of Venice…imagine a long table. lots of seafood and meats, vegetables, pasta and fruits…breads, antipasti..grilled…and  THAT is what I think of with a platter of this zucchini.  Did you notice I spelled it ZUCCHINE in the title?  That’s my inner Italian coming out…in Italian the word is ZUCCHINE (plural for ZUCCHINA, which means small squash, which is a ZUCCA, and they come in all shapes and sizes and colors.  In English we use the word ZUCCHINI) I’ve given you a vegetable dish AND a small Italian Grammar lesson.  Most importantly I’m giving you the permission to enjoy LA DOLCE FAR NIENTE..now go find it for yourself !! Happy Cooking!!

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