September 28, 2011
My friend, Chef Kim Schiffer (whom I think of as Mother Teresa and Alice Waters all wrapped up into one), recently volunteered to cook a luncheon to benefit Fairview Gardens, the organic fruit and vegetable mecca in Goleta, just north of Santa Barbara. Kim asked me to help her a bit, and pre-game in the kitchen. I always jump at the chance to spend time in the kitchen with her; it’s a spiritual-culinary-inspirational-soothing experience. Our conversation meanders as we prep, chatting about menus, life, what’s growing in our gardens, new finds at the farmers market and dreaming up new concoctions. We are true kindred cooking spirits.
One of my jobs that morning was turning the zucchini into pasta with a great tool called—what else—the Zucchini Noodle Maker & Veggie Slicer. This amazing machine transforms produce with a simple crank of the handle, turning zucchini into wonderful spirals. If you have a garden, if you are gluten free, if you are just into fun kitchen tools, you owe it to yourself to buy one! It’s a fantastic way to turn your veggies into something delicious and super healthy. When Kim asked if I wanted to borrow hers, I thought of the pounds of excess zucchini, carrots, squash and eggplant from my garden and said—yes!
The machine, in all its glory. A bit medieval-looking, yes?
For dinner that night I gave this nifty contraption a whirl and made mock pasta with fresh tomato sauce. With six small Italian zucchinis, my girls helped twirl out a mound of “pasta.” Kim recommended that I toss the twirls in a bowl with salt and pepper and let it rest for a spell while I prepared the sauce.
The zucchinis behaved wonderfully:
And … voila!
While the zucchini pasta was sitting on the counter I grabbed about 2 1/2 pounds of different types of tomatoes from the garden and sautéed them, chunked up in a pan, with 2 cloves of garlic, salt, red pepper and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. I let this simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes.
Fresh, fresh tomatoes:
Simmering. Puréed and back in the pan. Plated.
About ten minutes before dinnertime, I drained the zucchini pasta (some water had accumulated at the bottom of the bowl), spread it out on a cookie sheet, and broiled it for about 5 minutes around 6” from the heat. (This won’t brown the produce, but rather warms it up for serving.) While that was in the oven I puréed my sauce and returned it to the pan to keep it warm. Finally, I tossed the pasta into the sauce and topped it with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Healthy, delicious and a huge hit with the family! Time to buy my own Zucchini Noodle Maker!