This simple and delicious rustic Italian zucchini “sauce” with pasta is the first recipe from The Kitchen Counter Cooking School: How a Few Simple Lessons Transformed Nine Culinary Novices into Fearless Home Cooks, a wonderful book that jumped off the shelf to me during a visit to Powell’s Books in Portland several weeks ago. Written by Kathleen Flinn, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, it’s the story of her experience providing cooking lessons to a diverse group of nine volunteers, who all feel intimidated in the kitchen. By the end of a series of basic cooking and tasting classes each woman is transformed, gaining both confidence in the kitchen and in herself.
For anyone interested in home cooking, it’s a fun, inspirational, and educational read, with recipes for several delicious-sounding dishes.
Based on a southern Italian farmhouse dish, Kathleen explains that, “the slow-cooked zucchini takes on a nutty, earthy flavor and the pasta water ‘melts’ the vegetables in a sort of thick sauce.” She also includes suggestions for variations: adding caramelized onions, cooked Italian sausage, fresh basil and/or pine nuts.
I adapted the recipe slightly: beginning with thinly sliced onions (instead of caramelizing them separately), adding the chopped zucchini and then stirring in sliced grilled Italian chicken sausage at the end.
We all thought this simple rustic Italian pasta dish was satisfying and delicious; a definite do-over.