Late-Summer Zucchini with Spaghetti, Walnuts and Herbs
I always love the what to do with all this zucchini?!!? hysteria that happens in August and stretches through the first bright days of September. I find the predictability of this annual quandary comforting: here we are again, once again.
This year, my go-to zucchini solution came from the one cookbook I allowed myself to take with me to Massachusetts for the month of August. Simple food was just what I wanted to cook during those long evenings, and simple food was just what I carried in glass tupperware over to my sister’s third-floor apartment most nights. The best and easiest grilled chicken, a quinoa salad so good it was requested a second time. Simple became the guiding principle of the month. The pleasures were simple (bike rides, ice cream cones, swimming holes), the rhythm was simple (wake-write-work-ride-cook-sleep), my role as a dinner-delivering mother’s helper was simple and all the sweeter for it. It was the first time in a long time I can remember feeling truly needed. And so I unloaded the dishwasher and held the baby during bathroom breaks and watched House Hunters late into the night with a kind of joyful purpose I haven’t ever felt. It was simple.
And this recipe, while perhaps not quite as sweet and simple as two sisters sitting in easy chairs with a newborn passed between them, is one I’ll return to. Just like I hope I get back to the evening nook in that third-floor apartment, clearing the empty plates off the table, depositing them in the dishwasher, and quietly closing the door behind me just before midnight.
This might not sound like much, but trust me, it’s wonderful. I sprung for a specialty tool for this dish, and my new julienne peeler is my favorite kitchen gadget right now.
Spaghetti with Summer Squash, Walnuts and Herbs
adapted from the Art of Simple Food
1/4 cup walnuts
1 pound summer squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped marjoram, basil or parsley
3/4 pound spaghetti
Toast the walnuts in a small skillet set over medium-low heat until fragrant, about 5-8 minutes. Let cool and coarsely chop.
Trim the ends from the zucchini and julienne. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the julienned squash and sauté, tossing the squash in the pan until tender and lightly browned. Season with salt, fresh-ground black pepper, and the chopped herbs.
Meanwhile, cool the spaghetti until al dente in salted water. Drain, reserving some of the cooking water. Toss the noodles with the seasoned squash, a splash of the cooking water, and the toasted walnuts. Taste and correct the seasoning, adding more pasta water if needed.