Zucchini pasta - an easy way to use up the vegetable

Use up zucchini in this simple pasta dish.
Use up zucchini in this simple pasta dish. PHOTO: DEB LINDSEY FOR THE WASHINGTON POST

UNITED STATES (THE WASHINGTON POST) - Every year, there is a zucchini problem, and it goes something like this: Too many zucchini, not enough ideas.

Oh, sure, you can avoid them. That is, if you are not a gardener who planted them, or a community-supported-agriculture subscriber who gets them in your box, or a market shopper who was seduced by the stacks of green.

As a vegetarian dedicated to seasonal eating, I usually eat my fill for as long as they are around, and even miss them when they are gone. Well, maybe a few months after they are gone.

Until then, here is another idea for cooking them simply: You coarsely grate the zucchini, cook it with onion and garlic, brighten the lot with lemon juice, and toss it with pappardelle pasta and pine nuts. The zucchini almost disappears (a boon if you — or your dinner guests — are not a fan), and the dish tastes summery and fresh. Best of all, you have dispatched another couple zucchini in the process.

ZUCCHINI AND LEMON PAPPARDELLE WITH PINE NUTS 

Ingredients 

226g dried pappardelle

3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped (1½ cups)

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 medium zucchini (340g), trimmed and coarsely grated

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

½ tsp fine sea salt, or more to taste

½ tsp black pepper, or more to taste

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted in a small, dry skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes (let the pine nuts cool completely before serving or storing)

Fresh basil leaves

Method

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pappardelle and cook according to the package directions, until al dente, then drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and cook for about 3 to 4 minutes until the onion starts to soften.

3. Add the zucchini and increase the heat to medium. Stir frequently for about 4 to 5 minutes, until the zucchini is tender but not mushy. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, salt and pepper.

4. Toss the cooked pappardelle into the pan with the zucchini to coat evenly. Taste, and add more salt and pepper, as needed.

5. Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and scatter the pine nuts and basil on top.

Serves four