Welcome to our blog! I kept meaning to post a momentous "this is our first blog post!!!" message, but it was getting in the way of me posting anything at all. I just had a delicious enough dinner to merit a post, so I'm boldly going forth without further introduction. You'll get to know us as we go. :) Thanks to two tangents ahead- one about Trim Healthy Mama, one about the household division of labor- you'll know us at least a little better by the end of this post. Feel free to skip the tangents and proceed to the recipe at the bottom of the page. We're easygoing sorts.
So, my dinner. Yum. Who knew a meal of two zucchinis could be richly creamy in texture and super full of flavor? I was inspired to attempt it because it fits well with the wonderful principles of Trim and Healthy Mama, a book that has been helping me to regain my figure (so far I've lost 5 pounds in 15 days, while feeling great, eating a lot of delicious food, and having tons of energy). Yaaay!
In a nutshell, it's a Jekyll and Hyde approach to eating. Ms. Jekyll enjoys a low carb, high-in-healthy-fats diet. Ms. Hyde is the lowfat queen. The one thing they have in common is a commitment to going easy on the blood sugar. After one eats, the other doesn't chow down for 3 hours. In between are surprisingly yummy and nutritious snacks that are both low in fats and low in carb (I promise to share my scrumptious chocolate pudding recipe in a future post). Colette (not her real name) is not using this approach- she is a sweet skinny little minnie and it would interfere with her passion for granola. But she's always happy to eat half of what I'm having, so I surreptitiously make double of whatever it is I'm fixing for myself. ;)
One of Colette's many talents is growing vegetables. She has two community garden plots, one here in town, one 20 minutes away. When in the garden, Colette loses track of time and gets delightfully lost in her work. It can be 104 degrees, and she will not notice. Let's just say I do notice, so I am usually left at home for the benefit of both of us. Our deal is that she grows the veggies, and I wash / dry / store / prepare / preserve them. This summer so far I have reveled in bumper crops of baby bok choy, arugula, lettuce and basil. Now it is zucchini season. Woohoo! For reasons (recipes) you'll soon appreciate, I truly love zucchini. So, I'm super excited to have a free and abundant source of it.
One recipe that I hadn't tried yet was for zucchini noodles, popular with folks on the GAPS and SCD diet (which I used all last year to heal from gluten and dairy allergies). It always sounded a little questionable to me. Zucchini can be watery and low on flavor when not carefully paired with other yumminess. I pictured folks drenching zucchini noodles in so much tomato sauce they "almost didn't notice" the lack of traditional pasta. That sounded like too many tomatoes and a less than amazing experience to me.
My dubiousness faded this week, when I housesat for some dear friends. Their gorgeous home on a breezy hill was the perfect place to spend a 95 degree plus week, and I had the chance to gobble down all their back issues of Cook's Illustrated. It was there that I spied a spaghetti carbonara recipe and inspiration struck. Super zowie, that was it! Even though we ate it only a few times, I had very fond memories of that dish from childhood. I hoped that this would help zucchini's sweet nature shine with the radiance it deserved.
The zucchini noodle (low)carbonara I created lived up to these high expectations, and I am delighted to share the recipe with you here. Since I am not at home tonight, I only made enough for myself. I love it so much, though, Colette is sure to have the chance to experience it soon.
Zucchini Noodle Carbonara (serves one)
2 small zucchini, washed and peeled
Salt to taste
3 T onion
1-4 cloves garlic
2 T fat or oil (I used lard rendered from local, organic pigs)
1 egg yolk
2 T powdered parmesan
1 t fresh thyme leaves (3 or 4 small stems)
2 t fresh oregano leaves
Black pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
With a vegetable peeler, peel zucchini into fettucine-esque pieces until you reach the seedy core. Discard the core. Toss zucchini noodles with sea salt (not more than you'd want to eat- we're not rinsing it off later). Place in a strainer to drain and set aside, returning to squeeze the moisture out periodically. By the end of this, total volume is much less- maybe half what it was when you started.
Meanwhile, dice the onion very finely. Heat the oil or fat (bacon fat would be the most traditional and yummiest!) in a heavy skillet. While oil is heating, peel garlic. After a few minutes, toss one piece of onion in the pan. When it is hot enough to sizzle a bit, add the rest. Mince the garlic and add it, too. Cook and stir until onion is soft and translucent and garlic is golden on all sides.
Remove the herb leaves from the stems and chop the oregano leaves. All at once, add the wrung-out zucchini and the herbs to the pan. Add black and cayenne (just a tiny bit of cayenne!) peppers. Saute and stir until it all looks and smells very tasty.
Meanwhile, combine the egg yolk and around 1 1/2 T of the parmesan. Stir a little zuke mixture in to heat it up, then combine it all in the pan. I didn't cook it on the stove much, but one could (recommended for store-bought eggs). I just removed from heat and let it sit a bit, allowing the heat of the pan to permeate.
To serve, garnish with remaining parmesan. A chopped red cherry tomato would have looked smart on top, but I admit it was so tasty I hardly noticed the lack of diverse color in my presentation. It had a nice spring in its step from the garlic and cayenne, tasted like summer, and was truly decadent. Don't tell Colette I licked the bowl... she rightly considers that uncivilized. :)