Spaghetti with Zucchini Ribbons and Green Tomato Sauce

Welcome to “Mostly Vegetarian Week” in One Woman’s Kitchen.  There’s so much amazing produce at the farmers’ market that I decided to make this week all about the produce. (Hoping it might do a few good things for the waistline too).  This week you’ll see poblano and sweet banana peppers, squash, corn and today’s green tomatoes.  If you get green tomatoes you really need to use them right away or they’ll ripen on you so they get first dibs on the weekly meal plan.

I love green tomatoes.  Of course I love them fried, but they also make amazing salsa verde and really good pickles.  I just knew there must be something else out there to be done with green tomatoes.  A search on foodnetwork.com revealed that other people like fried green tomatoes too.  Eight of the first dozen results were variations on that theme.  I had to make it to the third page of results to find this little gem.  A quite a gem it is.  This stuff is good.

This is a very light sauce.  Even lighter than pesto.  And more summery.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve only ever seen green tomatoes at a Summer farmers’ market.  I think this would work with tomatillos as well.  I picked the mint and basil out of my garden.  I had to use dried dill.  I think of all the herbs that’s the only acceptable dried substitute.  Just remember to use about 1/3 of the amount called for.  Now, if you don’t like garlic this isn’t the sauce for you.  This sauce is raw, so the garlic is raw.  It’s very sharp.  And the sauce is very watery.  There’s a lot of water in green tomatoes.  I added the requisite amount of olive oil in a slow stream, but never achieved the “smooth” texture the recipe indicates.  Didn’t bother me a bit.  I suppose you could cook it down, but I think the wonderful thing about this sauce is that it’s so, so fresh.

Another wonderful thing about this sauce is that it’s done completely in the food processor.  No chopping.  No sauteing.  No cooking.  Perfect for a hot summer day when you’re not inclined to heat up the whole kitchen. 

I added some zucchini ribbons to my bowl to supplement the pasta.  It’s a nice way to use zucchini and cuts the amount of pasta that you need.  Nice if you’re watching your carbs.  And nice if you’re trying to work in some extra vegetables.  You could julienne the pasta if you wanted to make it less noticeable, but I think the ribbons are yummy and beautiful.  I’m actually pretty surprised how much I like this.  I’m already looking forward to having it for lunch tomorrow.  To preserve the raw and fresh quality of the sauce I’ll store the sauce separately from the spaghetti and zucchini and add it at the last minute again tomorrow.

I would absolutely serve this to my friends and absolutely not serve it to my family.  My friends are mostly adventurous eaters who love to try new things and have a real appreciation for fresh food.  My family members are much more traditional in their eating and don’t pay a lot of attention to seasonal eating.  They’d be much less interested in any variation on a traditional spaghetti with meat sauce.  If you’re serving a traditionalist, stick with what they know.  If you’re entertaining folks who browse cookbooks for fun and watch the Food Network, tell them you have a great new Mario Batali inspired recipe and have at it!

Good? Really, really good.
Easy? Got a a pot and food processor?  Done.
Good for company? Just make sure it’s the right audience.
Special shopping? Nope.  But it might inspire you to start an herb garden if you haven’t already.

Spaghetti with Zucchini Ribbons and Green Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

1/4 cup mint leaves
1/4 cup basil leaves
1/4 cup arugula
1/4 cup dill
5 green tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 pound spaghetti
3-4 zucchini, ends removed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt.
In the bowl of a food processor combine the herbs, tomatoes and garlic and puree. Add the cheese and pulse for 30 seconds.
Using a vegetable peeler cut each zucchini into ribbons. Cut on 4 sides until you reach the seeds. Discard the seedy cores.
Cook the pasta in the boiling water until tender yet al dente. 1 minute before the pasta is done add the zucchini to the pasta pot. Turn on the food processor and slowly drizzle the oil in to make a smooth sauce. Drain the pasta and zucchini, discarding the water, and return to the hot pot. Stir in the tomato mixture, season with salt and pepper, to taste and serve immediately.

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