I looked away for a moment, and suddenly two huge zucchinis appeared on the lone squash plant occupying a corner of my tiny garden. That’s the way it is with zucchini; for ten or eleven months a year it’s practically invisible, and then for a few weeks it bursts out of the ground and takes over the garden, producing fruit at breakneck speed, daring those of us who love it to try to keep up. I know that one day soon I’ll see one or two bright orange, black-winged insects, the dreaded squash vine borer. A few days later the plant will wilt and fade away, and my zucchini binge will be over for the year. But in the meantime, I’m trying not to resent the efficiency of my still healthy plant, as I eat my way through squash salads, sautéed squash, squash with pasta, and, of course, zucchini bread.
Here’s an excellent recipe from Mark Bittman’s Quick and Easy Recipes from The New York Times (Broadway Books, 2007) that unites zucchini with a few of its favorite companions: cheese, basil, and pasta. Use farm-fresh eggs if you can. —Deborah Geering
Spaghetti With Zucchini
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound zucchini, sliced thinly into rounds
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup basil, roughly chopped
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add salt. Put the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring only occasionally, until very tender and ightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with a little salt and a lot of pepper.
Meanwhile, beat the eggs and 1/2 cup of the Parmiggiano-Reggiano together. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and combine it immediately with the egg-cheese mixture, tossing until the egg appears cooked. Stir in the zucchini, then taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.
Toss in the basil and serve immediately, passing the remaining Parmiggiano-Reggiano at the table.
4 to 6 servings