Recipe of the Month – Sophia Loren’s Tagliatelle con Zucchini

I am not quite sure how it can suddenly be September, what happened to August?

I’ve been wondering what to propose for the recipe of the month and I made this zucchini dish last night and it was absolutely lovely, so this will be it!  This might be a godsend for all you allotment type folks with a surfeit of courgettes/zucchini at this time of year.  I hear it has been a bumper crop.

I made a 1/3 of Sophia’s recipe with half a massive courgette I bought at the Muswell Hill and District Horticultural Society Autumn Show on Saturday for 50p.

Behold the splendour!

I had one portion of Sophia’s pasta for my dinner and will have the second portion for lunch today.  By my reckoning each meal cost me less than 50p!

As I paid £7 for a Vietnamese salmon and veggie soup yesterday from Camden Market for a work lunch, this makes me feel very virtuous indeed.

Known to everyone at work as simply “Kim’s” – my fave food spot in the market

For someone who hardly ever eats pasta, there is a LOT of it in my house.  Usually, I will have a tiny speck of pasta with a slagheap of sauce on top, but this recipe was a revelation, and how REAL Italians eat I have no doubt.

No sauce, just delicious courgettes fried up just like my mum used to do (my mum’s not Italian, but this is something I definitely remember her doing in the 1970s) and lashings of cheese.

I am guessing it’s mostly the lashings of cheese that make this so good, but the zucchini slices added a certain something too.

…and at last, an opportunity to use a few leaves from the basil plant that I’ve been nurturing on the window ledge for weeks and weeks during the heatwave.  It seems to be snuffing it now which irks me!  Am I overwatering it or underwatering it?  I have no idea…

Sophia has something sensible to say about courgettes… “Zucchini sometimes seems to be rather bland, and not very interesting.  But at the same time, it has a distinctive taste and great versatility.  It is very good in numerous pasta dishes, such as this one.  Perhaps we underestimate this simple, ubiquitous vegetable.”

Yes Sophia, I am sure we do!

I knew this would be delicious though, as my courgette came from the allotment of the legendary Gary Sycamore, President of the Muswell Hill and District Horticultural Society and winner of almost every bit of silver on offer at the Autumn Show.

He didn’t get the Cookery Cup though!  I scooped that one!

So here is Sophia’s recipe, do get in touch if you try this out, I thought it was really delicious.

I’m not sure I would risk frying my zucchinis in a white shirt with no apron…

Sophia Loren’s Tagliatelle con Zucchini

2 pounds young, thin zucchini

Olive oil

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano and pecorino cheeses, combined

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 and 1/2 pounds fresh tagliatelle or spaghetti

8 to 10 large basil leaves, cut into shreds

Cut the zucchini into 1/2-inch rounds.  Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the zucchini slices and fry until they are golden brown on both sides, add more oil as needed.  As they cook, place the zucchini slices on paper towels to drain.

Cook the pasta until just al dente, drain, and place in a serving bowl.  Add the zucchini, cheeses, salt and pepper to taste, and some of the oil from the pan, and toss well.  Sprinkle individual servings with the basil.

4 Responses to Recipe of the Month – Sophia Loren’s Tagliatelle con Zucchini

  1. Greg 5 Sep, 2018 at 9:27 am #

    Sounds delicious! I seem to have fallen into a repetitive rut with my dinner routine…this sounds like a simple, pleasant meal for tonight.

    The basil may be suffering from lack of unfiltered, natural light…or the move indoors may have triggered its natural “end of season” life cycle. I like to take cuttings at this stage and root them in a jar of water…these new cuttings should have no problem growing in the window-filtered sunlight (last year, I was able to keep them going all winter this way, until time to plant in the spring).

    Thanks for the inspiration…I’ll be dining with Sophia tonight.

    • Jenny 8 Sep, 2018 at 9:19 am #

      Greg! Just loved your pic of your dining with Sophia experience. So glad you and Alex enjoyed it. I was really surprised how delicious such a simple dish could be. Hurrah for Sophia.

      Thanks for your advice on the basil. It’s a supermarket bought number, I don’t have a garden so I have to try and keep my herbs alive on the windowsill. Am planning to strip all the leaves off soon and do SOMETHING with them. A miniature pesto maybe?!

  2. Hazel 6 Sep, 2018 at 7:10 am #

    Yum! I make something similar based on the old Naples recipe of spaghetti with olive oil, garlic and chilli flakes but with courgette fried in the oil as well (or broccoli boiled with the pasta).

    Your basil plant needs repotting, that’s why it’s looking sad. The supermarket herbs are actually lots of seedlings crammed into a small pot. It might be a bit late for yours now, but if you buy another one take it out of the pot, gently separate it into at least smaller clumps and put into larger pots (with drainage holes- it doesn’t like wet feet) with fresh compost. It should keep going longer then, plus you’ll have more plants. It works with all the herbs, not just basil.

  3. Jenny 8 Sep, 2018 at 9:44 am #

    Ah Hazel, thanks for that wise advice about the supermarket herbs! I drive myself nuts trying to keep them alive when I’ve bought them for some recipe or another and used a few leaves. I should probably cut my losses and buy the little packets. Despite my mum being a florist and my dad a nurseryman, I do not have green fingers!

    Your Naples spaghetti dish sounds great. I am really going to explore Sophia’s cookbooks. Everything I’ve tried so far has turned out to be delicoius. She really knows what she’s doing!

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