Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Penne and Zucchini with Lime & Herbs (Vegan)

Sometimes I get lost in the array of flavors that herbs and spices add to food, forgetting the amazing health benefits. Rosemary and garlic help fight/prevent cancer cells, oregano and cinnamon are high in antioxidant activity, ginger has various benefits including relieving arthritis pain, parsley is a natural detoxifier, mint helps treat stomach aches, and tarragon has a huge amount of benefits and medicinal values. I love how God made food enjoyable and full of vast flavors. He could have easily made it just an essential part of life, like brushing your teeth and getting dressed. But instead He made it fun for us to explore with countless possibilities whether we add a new herb or spice, different cooking methods, fruits and vegetables all over the world.. it seems to be a never-ending adventure. I'm so thankful. What a loving Creator. 

I came across this recipe in Rachel Ray's magazine, which by the way, I'm loving the subscription! I really like the taste of tarragon. This recipe sounded so good to me. I don't often see recipes that have herbs, hot peppers, and lime in pastas. So here goes.

Penne and Zucchini with Lime & Herbs

salt & pepper
1 lb. penne rigate pasta
2 firm zucchini (I recommend using 3 if they're small)
about 3 T. EVOO
1 fresno chile pepper, finely chopped (I used serrano)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 limes, juiced
2 T. butter (sub vegan if desired)
1/2 C. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 C. fresh mint, chopped
1/4 C. fresh tarragon, chopped (or 1/2 C. basil)
1 C. grated pecorino-romano cheese (I use nutritional yeast)
1/2 C. finely chopped pistachio nuts, toasted (or any kind)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 C. of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is working,  halve the zucchini lengthwise and scrape out the seeds (I left the seeds). Thinly slice into 1/4"x2" strips--think fat matchsticks. 

In a large skillet, heat the EVOO, 3 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Stir in the chile and garlic for a minute.  Add the zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook until tender, 8-10 minutes.
 Add the lime juice to the zucchini and stir in the butter to melt. Add the pasta, parsley, mint, and tarragon (or basil), a handful of "cheese" and the reserved pasta cooking water. Toss for 1-2 minutes. Top with more "cheese" and the pistachios.
This recipe was fairly quick. Once you get the juicing, chopping and nuts toasted you can throw it together pretty quickly. I served this dish with a toasted whole wheat baguette. I used hazelnuts but I think pine nuts would have been even better. My family, and best friend who joined us for dinner, really enjoyed it. The herbs were pretty strong, you could cut back a little on those if you don't want it to taste too minty. The lime adds a nice zing. This recipe is a keeper, but i jotted a few notes and suggestions on it for next time.

Happy cooking to you all,

Chef Teebs

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