My friend Anisa messaged me out of the blue the other day saying, “as a gesture of love, I’d like to gift you some zucchini flowers, I know you’ll know what to do with them.” So other than being bowled over by the thoughtful gesture, I was also flattered at her faith in my culinary prowess. I did respond rattling off the marvels that could be made in frying said flowers, stuffed with ricotta and perhaps drizzled with a little warm honey.
I also scored some delicious, fresh zucchini when I arrived to collect said flowers. What a generous spoil bounties from a garden are. Especially for me, as I have yet to have the space to have my own garden patch, one of the only pitfalls of apartment living, other than wondering why your neighbour’s bath seems to be above your bed and why they take an inordinate number of baths.
I got home to that special thing our country does, where it’s lights out for no apparent reason, so when they came back on I had no lus for elaborate dinners. I then looked at my delightful, fresh produce anew when I had lights again and thought, what would the Italians do?
Zucchini always reminds me of Italy. More than that, it reminds me of Rome when I was about 19 or 20, on my first girls’ trip with my mother, my younger sister and her incredible friend Cynthia and her sister. Cynthia has as voracious an appetite for food as she does for living, but I guess the two are deeply connected. Cynthia had us tasting all sorts of glorious delights up and down the Eternal City and zucchini fritti (fried zucchini) stuck out for me. And, of course, pasta was never too far away.
In later years I’ve seen a lot of Italian dishes featuring zucchini in pasta, in summer particularly. The lightness and freshness of this dish is so sumptuous and the zucchini has a creaminess, juxtaposed with the crispiness of the burnt edges that caught ever so slightly when frying them. This dish transports you to a place that you only wish you’ve been to — I imagine somewhere like Positano (I’ve never been), drinking a great white wine (I’m allergic).
My point is, make this dish — it’s like eating a dream destination in a bowl. It is also so simple to make in the week and a great dinner. Eat pasta, because we never gave up carbs.
2 medium sized zucchini sliced into thinnish rounds (use more zucchini, depending on numbers)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 dried chilli (if you like to bring the heat to what you eat)
Spaghetti: enough to serve per person
1 handful of fresh mint leaves finely chopped
¼ cup of olive oil
½ teaspoon of cumin
¼ teaspoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
Half a lemon
- Heat the spices in the dry pan for just under a minute over medium heat, careful not to let them burn.
- Then add about three tablespoons of oil in a pan over a medium heat.
- Place the zucchini rounds in the pan and fry until golden on both sides.
- When the zucchini is also done, add the garlic and chilli and fry.
- Squeeze a little lemon over the cooking zucchini and sprinkle with salt.
- In the meanwhile boil the spaghetti until al dente
- Place the cooked spaghetti into the pan with the zucchini and toss through, adding a little bit of the pasta water when there is a creamy, silky texture.
- When all is combined, remove from the heat and flutter the mint across the dish and stir through.
Serve immediately with a final drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of Maldon salt and a good grind of black pepper. You’ll give yourself a mini high five as you tuck in and find yourself daydreaming of not eating this under camping lamp light in SA our land.