Pasta and Fried Zucchini Salad

I think it’s time to admit that I am somewhat of a cookbook hoarder.  The collection has grown considerably in the past few years, so much so that we bought a special, if not large, bookcase to house all those wonderful gems. I tend to peruse from page to page, chapter to chapter, bookmarking all the things I’d love to try, knowing full well I probably won’t get to them very soon because the list just keeps growing.

As I was flipping through my Plenty cookbook as I had many times before, I stumbled across this recipe which surprisingly had not been bookmarked.  The ingredients seem basic, but the way in which they are used makes this dish special and oh so delicious!  I love the varying shades of green from the zucchini, basil-parsley sauce, spinach, edamame and capers. It makes me feel like I’m eating a big bowl of health.  Even though the zucchini is fried, it doesn’t actually absorb that much oil and gives the veggie a nice texture.

I did alter a couple things, such as substituting {homemade!!} ricotta for buffalo mozzarella while adding spinach and chicken sausage to make the dish more substantial.  I strongly urge you to try this recipe and enjoy the leftovers for days to come!

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{ever so slightly adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook}

INGREDIENTS

  • 2/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 3 medium zucchini, cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 1 ½ tbs red wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup frozen edamame
  • 2 cups basil leaves, shredded coarsely
  • ¼ cup parsley leaves
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and black pepper
  • 9 oz strozzapreti {or penne}
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 ½ tbs small capers
  • approximately 7 oz whole milk ricotta cheese {I made my own, recipe below}
    • the original recipe calls for buffalo mozzarella, which I am sure is amazing
  • 1 package basil and cracked pepper chicken sausage, cut into slices
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RECIPE

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Heat the sunflower oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Fry the zucchini slices in a few batches, making sure not to crowd the pan, for 3 minutes or until golden brown on both sides.  They only need to be flipped once.  As they are cooked, transfer to a colander to drain.  Tip the zucchini slices into a bowl, pour over the vinegar and stir, then set aside.

Blanch the edamame in boiling water for approximately 3-5 minutes; drain; rinse under cold water and set aside.

Combine half the basil and all of the parsley with the olive oil in a food processor.  Add salt and pepper to taste and blitz until a paste forms.  Here is where I actually used Toasted Almond Olive Oil to give the sauce a bit of a nutty flavor, and it worked quite nicely.

Cook the pasta according to package, until al dente.  Then, drain {keeping about a ½ cup of the pasta water} and rinse under cold water; return pasta to the pot in which it was cooked.  Add the baby spinach and toss with the pasta until wilted.  At this point, I also browned the chicken sausage tossed them in with the spinach and pasta.

Pour the zucchini and their juices over the pasta.  Add the edamame, basil sauce, lemon zest, capers and dollops of the ricotta.  Stir gently together, then taste and season with plenty of salt and pepper.  Before serving stir in the remaining basil and top with more ricotta cheese if desired.

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Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese {as found in Sprouted Kitchen’s Bowl + Spoon cookbook)

Once you make your own, and realize how EASY it is, store bought will pale in comparison.  This is an easily forgiving recipe, so if you choose not to use whole milk, that is fine.  Just be warned that the ricotta will not come out as creamy or decadent.

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Pasta and Fried Zucchini Salad

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