What can I say. I have no excuse. Its been a month. A month of pure mayhem! Visitors. Plans outside of work. Weddings. Traveling. Cooking. Running. Keeping up with people. But most importantly, its been a month of courgettes.
Zucchini. Squash. Those forever repopulating “fruits” of the vine, that have been occupying counterspace, pots, pans, fridges, and the best markets near you! They are green, yellow, pale, bright, small, large, oblong, round, cylinder, saucers, and oval-shaped. They are, in one word, deeeelicious. But how, may you ask, do you know you have good ones? Well for me, the signifier is if they still possess those little, teensy, weensy, prickly hairs that accompany them when growing, and stick around for a short time after freshly being picked.
THAT is really fresh zucchini. There is one thing that takes the cake from that mini-cup cake though. It’s the prize winner of the show: baby zucchini with the zucchini flower still attached. These little treasures, if you are lucky enough to stumble across them(or if you grow them in your yard! you are a gem!) are something worthy of more than just a simple steam, or side treat, not that they aren’t good then as well. They deserve to be front and center to their counterparts. Best roasted whole (but removing the little stamen, which can be quite bitter if forgotten about) with their larger relatives, they make the best quick, tasty, “man I have the best farmers’ market and love summer” meal you could ask for. Yerena Farms, I owe you for always having a box of these lovelies left for the Brit and I to buy, and Mr. Oliver, your seasonal sense is impeccable. Thus, Zucchini Carbonara with Whole Roasted Baby Courgette was born, and consumed, happily, on a surprisingly chilly, Monday summer’s night.
Courgette Carbonara with Whole Roasted Baby Courgette
(modified from Jamie Oliver’s Zucchini Carbonara, in Jamie at Home)
2 tbsp olive oil
16 Baby Courgette with Flower attached
2 Medium Courgette, cut into 1 inch strips, about the same size as the pasta
1 small Onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 5 strips high quality bacon(depending on how much you love bacon) chopped
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
2 egg yolks, preferably free range
1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh grated parmesan
1 1/2 cups dried fusilli or penne
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 400F. Open each Courgette flower bud carefully, and with kitchen shears, snip out the small pollen stem(stamen) inside the flower; discard. Place baby courgette in a medium-sized roasting dish, sprinkle 1 tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper on top. Toss to coat squash and place in oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until beginning to golden.
To make the sauce, place 2 egg yolks, milk, and 1/2 of the parmesan cheese in a bowl. Mix well.
Place pasta in boiling water and cook to almost al-dente (as directed by your pasta type).
Meanwhile, in a saute pan place bacon over medium heat and cook until browned and beginning to crisp. Discard (or keep) as much bacon fat in pan as desired, and add the onion, garlic, thyme, courgette, and salt and pepper to taste to the pan. Be sure to add more pepper than normal, for this dish fares quite well from it. Cook until well softened, and onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. When the pasta is ready, drain the pasta, reserving 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Place the pasta water, and pasta, in the saute pan with the courgette mixture, stir well, and turn off the heat. (This is the tricky part, for you do not want to cook our egg yolks to then get scrambled eggs!) Slowly add the sauce mixture to the courgette and pasta mixture, and stir well. Add the rest of the cheese, and any additional pepper as you see fit to the dish.
Remove the roast courgette from the oven, plate the pasta mixture, and scatter the roasted squash on top. Enjoy!