I am a summer girl through and through. I was born in July, at the height of estate Italiana (Italian summer) and my body and brain both crave the warm and reassuring feeling of the sun on my skin, filling me with endorphins and zest for life. Now that I have made Australia my home, I find it very convenient to flee at the first signs of winter (albeit mild, always winter it is!) and frolic in the golden light of Italy at this magical time of the year. Admittedly, I’m back here for work…but summer it is and I find that work comes easier when I’m wearing shorts, thongs and a bikini top! Naturally there is a further, fundamental reason the warmer months make me happy…the seasonal produce! My heart beats faster at the sight of fruit and vegetable stalls at the local farmers market, mainly for two reasons: everything looks so exquisitely inviting and everything is so unbelievably cheap, at least in comparison to Australian prices. And so a kilo (about 2 pounds) of freshly picked zucchini set me back 1 single Euro…
INGREDIENTS, serves 4
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, skin on, bashed with the palm of your hand
1 small red onion, finely chopped
3 green zucchini, cut into cubes
1 cup of home-made tomato passata or crushed tinned tomatoes
salt to taste
3/4 packet of fusilli pasta (about 3/4 lb)
fresh basil and celery leaves
freshly ground white pepper and freshly grated pecorino for dusting on top (omit the cheese for a vegan-friendly option)
1. Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to the boil
2. Heat the oil in a medium sized pan, add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 3-4 minutes or until the onion has softened. Add the zucchini and cook for 5-10 minutes or until slightly golden and soft. Add the tomato, season with salt and cook for 5-10 minutes over medium-low heat.
3. When the water comes to a rolling boil, drop your pasta in. Stir well so it doesn’t stick to the bottom and cook until perfect al dente. Using a ladle, add a little pasta cooking water, acqua di cottura, to the sauce.
4. Using a slotted fork, lift the pasta out of the pot and drop it straight into the saucepan with the zucchini. Toss over high heat for 1 minute. Add torn basil leaves and the tender leaves of celery. Serve hot with a little freshly ground white pepper and grated pecorino, if liked.
Silvia’s Cucina the cookbook is available in stores and online