A simple, elegant pasta dish -- RECIPE REVISED

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It has been about three weeks since I've done any tabletop photography. Indeed, I was in withdrawal and the only solution was to make a photo.

See my next post for the recipe.

Setup
The tabletop is a vinyl floor tile. A medium continuous-light lamp was on the right and above the scene. A small one was on the left and above it. A white reflector at the rear brightened that area of the scene. A flashlight at the rear on the tabletop backlit the basil leaf at the top of the pasta. Ten focus-bracketed images at Nikon step size 3 were stacked in Helicon Focus at its default settings.

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I saw a restaurant preparing this dish on a segment of Stanley Tucci's award-winning series, Search for Italy, that was broadcast on CNN earlier this year. I made notes and now it's a regular serving in my household.

Pasta with Zucchini -- REVISED
Serves two

Ingredients
6 oz your favorite pasta
1 zucchini squash, sliced into 1/4" medallions and then cut in half
Sunflower oil, enough to cover the zucchini in the pan

Group 1
1 Tbsn butter
2 Tbsn Penzey's Mural of Flavor seasoning
1 Tbsn dried basil or 2 Tbsn fresh basil, chopped
sea salt to taste

Garnish
Parmesan cheese, grated
Fresh basil leaves

Cooking
Prepare the zucchini squash as explained above and saute the medallions in sunflower oil over medium high heat until they are golden brown, about 5 mintes. Use enough oil to cover the tops of the medallions, thus allowing them to float once the oil boils. Flip them once or twice to ensure that both sides brown equally. Transfer the cooked zucchini to a saucepan or skillet large enough to hold the pasta. Add the Group 1 ingredients and mix. Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting to keep the mixture warm. Cook the pasta. Add the pasta to the zucchini mixture and thoroughly mix. Transfer the pasta to the plates (I use a cooking ring to create a tall, cylindrical shape) and add the garnish.

Wine
Your favorite Chardonnay
 
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Looks very good, Mike, and a beautiful photograph.

What's in Penzey's Mural of Flavor seasoning? I don't think I've heard of that.
 
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Fabulous. I saw a recent article (don't know/can't remember where) that had a series of recipes like this. The one I was impressed with used beets as yours uses zuch.
 

Butlerkid

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Excellent image, Mike! Looks delicious! Could you slowly saute the zucchini in a skillet.....sort of like carmelizing onions? I'll have to try the seasoning that is recommended.
 
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Thank you also to Allan, Dan, Phil, John, Nick and Karen!

Could you slowly saute the zucchini in a skill[et]

I'm embarrassed that I never thought of that. I don't know if the zucchini would lightly brown the same way but it would definitely be worth a try. The idea of boiling them in the large portion of oil came from the restaurant, which of course would need to brown so many zucchinis that it would be impractical for them to use something so small as a skillet.

If indeed using a skillet to saute the zucchini slices can be done, the three liters of oil I bought two days ago will last forever. :eek:
 

Butlerkid

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Don't see why using a skillet would be a problem. Let us know!
 
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Don't see why using a skillet would be a problem. Let us know!
Excellent image, Mike! Looks delicious! Could you slowly saute the zucchini in a skillet.....sort of like carmelizing onions? I'll have to try the seasoning that is recommended.
I'm embarrassed that I never thought of that. I don't know if the zucchini would lightly brown the same way but it would definitely be worth a try. The idea of boiling them in the large portion of oil came from the restaurant, which of course would need to brown so many zucchinis that it would be impractical for them to use something so small as a skillet.

If indeed using a skillet to saute the zucchini slices can be done, the three liters of oil I bought two days ago will last forever. :eek:

The boiling in oil for 20 minutes struck me as overkill right off.

I suspect browning the zucchini in a skillet will give a subtle difference in flavor but will still produce a very toothsome dish.
 
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Sauteeing the zucchini worked so well that I didn't notice any difference in taste when I made the dish for today's lunch. Using the saute method requires a LOT less oil and browns the zuchini in five minutes rather than twenty minutes. So, I modified the above recipe to include the following information:

Prepare the zucchini squash as explained above and saute the medallions in sunflower oil over medium high heat until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Use enough oil to cover the tops of the medallions, thus allowing them to float once the oil boils. Flip them once or twice to ensure that both sides brown equally.
 

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