I am sharing this recipe because I think it fits in perfectly with getting on track to honor the kind of food our bodies crave – simple suppers prepared around fresh, seasonal ingredients. I made this dish a few weeks ago and it was soooo good. I posted a picture on Facebook and said I would put the recipe up on the blog. This was the perfect week to have this meal.
Labor Day weekend provided some pretty awesome indulgences – we gathered with friends for a sunset party overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains on Saturday with hand-made hard cider and beautiful cheeses and a potluck finger food meal. On Sunday, I invited my parents and a few others over for a casual gathering by the creek for bison burgers and music – guitars, harmonica and some out of tune Willie Nelson-ish sing-along fun. Beautiful fun time. However….
…when the new week began, I confided in my husband that I may have over-indulged, and this week we most definitely would turn our mealtimes back to simple suppers – prepared around fresh, seasonal ingredients – recovery and maintenance. Easy, right?
Monday was the official holiday, so I took advantage and visited my local farmer, Irma. I hope you have a wonderful farm and or a farmer’s market nearby to gather and plan your meals around. When I saw this beautiful golden zucchini again at the farm, I was so happy, because I knew that I wanted to have this meal again once more before the summer is completely gone for good, and I was afraid I had missed this beautiful summer squash. If you don’t catch it, or you want to make this dish anytime, just substitute regular zucchini and use sun-dried tomato – it’s going to be great.
Zucchini, fennel, cherry tomatoes. Wow, it’s a great combination of summer veggies. You can pick up all these ingredients at the grocery if you don’t happen to be near a farm.
If you don’t use fennel on a regular basis, go for it! It adds such a nice subtle complexity and a little bit of a surprise. To prepare, simply cut away the green tops and cut it down the middle length. Trim out the core and slice into slivers about 1/2″ wide. Saute’ the vegetables in olive oil briefly over medium heat to tenderize, then add the roasted pobalano pepper strips and chicken stock and simmer gently for 3-4 more minutes.
The roasted red peppers are also a nice surprise. They are so easy to blister under your oven’s broiler. When blistered all over, transfer them to a paper bag and sweat to loosen the skin. After about five minutes, it will slip right off the meat. Be sure to remove the seeds as you cut the beautiful meat into slices or dices for your dish.
Add chicken stock (either homemade or from a container) to the vegetables. You can see my “chicken stock ice cubes” below – one of the great ways to have the needed amount on hand with just a little planning.
Lastly, fold into this brothy vegetable medley your pasta shells, if using, and chunks of smoked trout or salmon, or chicken. It is equally delicious with either of these. I like to add a bit of fresh mint to this dish, along with a light dusting (light, I said) of good parmesan cheese.
Start to finish – this simple supper is ready in less than 30 minutes. It is fresh, light, satisfying, and healthy. Prepare this meal for yourself, your family or for guests. They are going to love it!
- 1 medium Golden Zucchini or Green Zucchini
- 1 medium Fennel Bulb, tops and core removed.
- 1 clove Garlic
- ½ cup Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 medium Poblano Pepper
- 1 cup Chicken Stock
- 1 tablespoon Olive Oil (good quality)
- Salt and White Pepper
- 1 tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
- Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 tablespoon Fresh Mint
- ½ lb Orechiette Pasta, or favorite other pasta
- ¼ cup Parmigiano-Reggianno Cheese
- Roast a whole poblano pepper under the oven broiler, turning occasionally to blacken on all sides. Remove to a paper bag to "sweat" while the other ingredients are prepped. When the wrinkled skin of the pepper has started to separate from the flesh - peel, deseed and slice into short, ½ inch wide ribbons.
- Slice the zucchini lengthwise using a mandolin if you have one. Slices should be about ¼ inch thick.
- Trim and core the fennel and slice into slivers about the same thickness as the zucchini.
- Peel and mince the garlic clove.
- In a medium cast iron skillet, warm olive oil and add fennel and garlic to sweat over medium-low heat until translucent - about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the zucchini ribbons and toss, turning the heat up just a bit under the skillet. Add the cherry tomatoes and the sliced and peeled poblano pepper and toss to combine with the other vegetables. Season the vegetables now with salt and white pepper.
- When zucchini has started to soften and brown a bit, splash with white balsamic vinegar, then add the chicken stock and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Add pasta. Toss to combine.
- To serve, spoon zucchini pasta dish into heated bowls. Top with thinly shaved parmesan, chopped fresh mint leaves (optional) and crushed red pepper flakes.