As soon as spring arrives, Minnesotans rush outside to see if their plants survived the winter and to start their vegetable gardens. Many Minnesotans plant zucchini and tomatoes. These vegetables are grown in backyard and container gardens. We have to keep our eyes on the tomato plants, however, because the squirrels will pick green tomatoes and eat them before they ripen.
As the days get warmer and summer comes, people look for ways to fix the produce they have grown. Get on an elevator and someone will ask, "Need any zucchini? I have lots." Minnesotans make zucchini bread, muffins, chocolate cake, soup, salads, and even pizza.
Why serve this vegetable? For one thing, it's extremely low in calories. It is a source of potassium, vitamins A and C. You don't have to peel it and can leave the skin on. Large ones can be "woody" so choose squash that are small or medium-sized. Avoid squash that are dented, flabby, or pitted. Wash the zucchini under cold running water just before cooking.
I really like this ordinary looking vegetable and stir fry it with onions and peppers, or serve it as a side dish with fresh corn. One day I decided to shred the squash and add it to spaghetti. Since I had some locally grown tomatoes, I added them to the spaghetti as well. My husband, who is not a zucchini lover, like my original recipe so much he asked me to make it again.
This recipe may be easily doubled. Serve the pasta with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, not cheese in a carton.
6 ounces (half a box) of spaghetti with extra fiber
1 1/2 cups chopped Roma tomatoes (more if you wish)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small zucchini, shredded
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 teaspoon salt (may be omitted)
2 tablespoons capers
1/2 cup pasta water (approximate)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. While it is cooking, prepare the vegetable sauce. Chop the tomatoes and transfer to a bowl. Shred the zucchini and set aside. Pour olive oil into a large skillet. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, seasonings, and capers. Take a half cup of water out of the pasta pot. Drain the pasta and add to vegetables in skillet. Moisten with pasta water and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle basil leaves over pasta and toss well. Serve immediately with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 generous servings.