My husband and I watched CNN’s new travel porn show, Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy. We were immediately swept back to our favorite place on earth, though, tbh, I’ve never been to Southern Italy. Still, just hearing people speak Italian against the backdrop of the Amalfi Coast had me immediately hooked.
Easily the most memorable part of the premier episode was when they visited Lo Scoglio, a small restaurant in the seaside village of Marina del Cantone on Amalfi Coast. There, Tucci raved about his favorite zucchini spaghetti, spaghetti alla nerano. It sounded too good to not try veganizing, and by the time the episode closed out of its final staggeringly beautiful scene, I had it all planned out.
This morning, over breakfast, I spied a lone box of cannelini beans that my husband didn’t know where to store in the pantry (and thus, of course, just left on the counter hoping it would spirit itself to its rightful location, I guess). And I thought, well wouldn’t it be nice to incorporate a little healthy protein and fiber into this dish? So, I decided to jazz this pasta dish up with some beans.
And in so doing, I created one of the creamiest pastas I’ve ever made–no coconut milk, no non-dairy creamers, though yes, I did add a knob of butter, mostly because Tucci decries the fact that he was originally told the recipe had no butter, only to discover he’d been bamboozled. Anyhow, I highly recommend this recipe for an excellent mid-week meal. Because I opted to bake the zucchini in lieu of frying it, there’s a lot less work (and mess) involved, while you still get just as much flavor!
Creamy Zucchini Spaghetti
- Preheat oven to 450° F.
- Slice the zucchini into 1/4 inch discs and place them into a large bowl. Add 1 tsp of salt and set aside for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, squeeze the liquid out of the zucchini and place them onto a baking sheet. Do not overcrowd the sheet and make sure they are in one layer (use two sheets, if necessary). Drizzle with 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.
- Place in the oven and bake for 12 to 13 minutes. Flip and cook for 2 more minutes. Allow the zucchini to cool while you prep the rest of your ingredients.
- Begin cooking spaghetti until al dente. In the meantime, chop up your garlic and parsley.
- In smaller container (I used a steel pot), add 2 tbsp of the baked zucchini, 2 tbsp of cannelini beans, and 4 tbsp of the water you're cooking you're pasta in. Blend with an immersion blender to create a paste.
- In a large sautee pan, add 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat. Add the garlic (I also added some garlic peel which I removed before adding the rest of my ingredients). Allow the garlic to cook in the oil for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the edges turn brown.
- When the pasta is just slightly undercooked, add it to the pan with the garlic. Add in the the cooked zucchini, the zucchini + bean paste, 1 cup pasta water, the rest of the cannelini beans, the grated parmesan cheese, as well as salt and pepper, to taste. Stir everything together over low heat.
- Remove from heat and add parsley, butter, and another drizzle of olive oil before serving.