Corn and Zucchini Pasta’s inclusion in Chez Panisse Vegetables is more of a concept than a recipe. Alice provides ingredients and technique leaving the vagaries of measurements and time to the individual cook. This is recipe trading grandmother style. “What do you mean measurements? You can just feel when you’ve got it right.”
It’s a gift. You learn more in the making than you ever could in rote execution. Here’s what I’ve learned:
- Practice your knife skills. Cut the zucchini down into a 1/4″ dice, approximately the same size as the corn kernels.
- Fresh pasta isn’t just un-dried. Fresh pasta is traditionally made with eggs and soft wheat “00” flour while dried pasta is made with just hard durum wheat and water. An easy rule of thumb is to use fresh pasta for light dishes and cream sauces. Dried pasta is your choice for heartier sauces like Bolognese and Carbonara.
- Large pasta is tough to mix with small ingredients. When tossing the corn and zucchini with the fresh fettucini that Alice recommends, you end up with all the veggies in the bottom of the bowl. Orzo is easier to mix through.
- Butter is a condiment. Add it at the end. Don’t even think of leaving it out. It adds a necessary richness.
Corn and Zucchini Pasta
This tastes just as good hot as it does as a cold pasta salad.
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 large candy sweet or yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 jalapeño, minced
- 2 cups finely diced zucchini (about 1-2 medium)
- 2 ears corn, kernels removed
- 1 cup orzo, uncooked
- 2 tbs butter
- 2-3 tbs chopped cilantro or parsley
- Champagne Mimosa or Sherry vinegar
- Bring a 4 qt pot of water to a boil and salt heavily, about 2 tbs.
- Heat olive oil in a 12” sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened.
- Add garlic and jalapeño and cook 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Turn up heat to medium high and add zucchini.
- When you add the zucchini to the pan, add the orzo to boiling water.
- When zucchini is softened but firm add corn and cook 1 minute.
- When orzo is still undercooked – firm in the center, strain it, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Add orzo and liquid to vegetables. Cook until water has evaporated.
- Add cilantro and butter. Season to taste with vinegar, salt and pepper.