Pasta Camilla: Courgette Advice and All Things Nice

We have “Pasta Alfredo”, I said to myself, so why can’t we have a “Pasta Camilla” (named after my favourite daughter …. and yes, I do have a favourite son too.  I’m so lucky that way) ?

When life deals you lemons they say you should make lemonade, hmmm.  Well, as it happened,  the other day,  I had a market shop and cooking class in Rome which saw me take the 7:30 train from Frascati to Rome and return at after 4 p.m.  My obliging husband came to pick me up the the last metro station closest to Frascati and reminded me that we had guests for dinner that evening, to celebrate our daughter Camilla’s birthday (one of several celebrations this past week).  I had completely forgotten and my initial reaction was one of dismay.  I was tired, and when I say ‘tired’ I mean really really tired.  The idea of having to cook for guests that evening presented me with a huge hospitality hiccough – and let’s not forget that I had to go and do some shopping for it too!  You get the picture.

Anyway … there is always some alchemical magic when it comes to cooking for people you love.  I wanted to cook something easy and special at the same time.  We ended up having the nicest of evenings.  And this was the pasta result.  We all loved it and, if you omit the sausage, it can also be vegetarian.  Omit the cheese and it’s vegan.

This is one of those recipes that are almost easier to make than to describe.  Try it, you won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients

Courgettes (think at least 1 per person), garlic, extra virgin olive oil, Italian sausages, skinned (I used 2), freshly grated parmigiano, fresh  mint and basil

PART 1 – Cooking One Half the Courgettes

PART 2 – Preparing the Courgette Sauce

PART 3 –  Cooking the other Half of the Courgettes

PART 4 – Bringing it all together

Here we go:

PART 1 – Cooking One Half the Courgettes

1

The courgettes/zucchini on the left, two skinned Italian sausages on the right which I proceeded to roughly chop.2While the chopping of the sausage and the slicing of the courgettes was going on, I cooked a couple of garlic cloves in a puddle of olive oil.  I tilted the pan at one point, so that the cloves and the oil coverged into a ‘corner’ of the saucepan – that way the garlic cooked faster and better and I was able to control the cookingiand make sure the garlic did not go brown, only golden.

3

It was then that I added the sliced courgettes.  Sprinkled salt over them. (Notice that the courgettes are sliced rather thickly.  There’s a reason for that.  Read on.)

4

Once they were cooked, I transferred them to a bowl and set them aside.

PART 2 – Preparing the Courgette Sauce

5

I cooked the sausage meat in the same saucepan.  I have a big wooden ‘fork’ – this is excellent for breaking up sausage meat, which is a bit ‘sticky’ at first and wants to clump together.

IMG_3141

If you don’t own a wooden fork, you can use the tip of a whisk to break up the sausage meat – works wonders, you’d be surprised.  I learnt this tip just recently from my friend Chef Luigi Brunamonti.  He does this to break up the meat when making a ragù.

Remember the courgettes I had cooked previously?

6

I added a little water (about half a glass I suppose) to the bowl.

7

And then I processed them with an immersion blender.8

I added the processed courgettes to the cooked sausages.  Switch the heat off and set aside for now.  Lovely bright green colour, don’t you think.

PART 3 –  Cooking the other Half of the Courgettes

9

Please notice that I sliced these courgettes a lot thinner than the previous batch.  These are not going to be blended once cooked, that’s the reason why.

10

Another saucepan.  Extra virgin olive oil, again, in the saucepan.

12

Cook them for a little bit over quite a high heat.  Sprinkle salt over them.

11

Then lower the heat and finish cooking them with a lid on.  Just for a few minutes, and do take the lid off now and then to keep an eye on them.

12a

I had a few courgette blossoms and shredded them a little and added them to the cooked slices of courgette.  Add salt and set aside.

While all this was going on, I had put the pasta water onto the boil and was cooking the pasta:

13

All I had to hand is a type of pasta known as “paccheri” (pronounced pack-kerr-ee in English) which are actually not the easiest of pasta shapes to cook.

PART 4 – Bringing it all together

14I transferred the cooked pasta (well, it was slightly undercooked at this point) directly into the saucepan with the courgette and sausage sauce.

15The heat was on, and I kept adding a ladle of the pasta water to the mix, and tossing and/or stirring the pasta with the wooden spoon, until it was indeed cooked to a texture we call “al dente” in Italian.

16Now was the time to add the courgette slices.

17I switched the heat off.  And added basil and mint – just roughly torn with my fingers.

18A good grating of parmigiano (parmesan cheese).

19A twist of pepper, if you fancy it.

20And … job done! Ready to be served and gobbled up.

No one took a photo of the pasta served on the plate.  Sorry about that.  But I reckon you can get an idea of how delicious it was?  Courgettes aren’t the tastiest of vegetables, let’s face it, but they can be tarted up beautifully like this and deliver a deep gustatory satisfaction.

Let’s hear it for Pasta Camilla !!!

10 thoughts on “Pasta Camilla: Courgette Advice and All Things Nice

  1. Joe said “let that be a lesson to you”…ha…you need a secretary to keep on top of your scheduling mia amica! And is that a new immersion blender? Looks pretty industrial and probably does a great job. Not familiar with the brand. I’m making this in a few days…hit me with a new pasta recipe and I’m in…love you! Auguri from us to Camilla too!

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    1. Hello there … no, not a new immersion blender (and it was actually a present from a dear friend who used to live here and then went back home to California). My scheduling is beyond ‘flexible’ – sign of the times we live in, ha ha. Love you too!!!!

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  2. Would be fun, wouldn’t it, if the name caught on but seriously, dear Stefan, who cares. It will be Pasta Camilla in our family and that’s what counts. What it made me think, though, was that I have a deep need to get cooking again … have neglecting it for lack of time these past few months. The heat has just arrived after weeks and weeks of rain and unseasonal cold temperatures so I’m not sure how that will ‘inspire’, ha ha. Salads are beginning to look very very enticing today!

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  3. Looks yummy, Jo! Love the idea of mixing puree with sliced zucchini (as we call courgettes on this side of the pond). Do that with asparagus sometimes, I’m sure it’s delightful with zucchini as well. And I see you use the same tilt the skillet method to brown your garlic. I thought that was my little secret… 😉

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    1. Ciao Frank ! Here I am responding weeks after you sweetly commented on this recipe. Yes, I do the mushing up of asparagus for soups – haven’t tried it with pasta yet (or have I? Dunno). Regarding the tilting of the pan – I don’t know about you but it came to me one day quite by chance – the oil was getting too hot and I removed the frying pan/sklllet away from the fire and ‘naturally’ tilted the pan. The garlic continued browning without burning and that’s how our little ‘secret’ came to me. When I am cooking a large amount of pasta – say 1kg and more – I sauté the garlic in a small saucepan and then transfer it to the large frying pan. A bigger pan is sometimes difficult to ’tilt’. How are you? Tutto bene I hope ! 🙂

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    2. Thanks for your appreciation caro Frank. Regarding the tilting ‘thing’ …you know, I’ve come to the conclusion that if you cook long enough, you devise ways to make things easier/better ‘naturally’. No one taught me to tilt the saucepan so that the garlic would cook evenly etc- it was just plain obvious and ‘hit’ me one day. But these are little tips that would have been nice to know from the beginning, no? Never mind, we survied and here we are 🙂

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