zucchini pasta with almonds

I mentioned before that my sister had sent me a zucchini pasta recipe super similar to a Smitten Kitchen recipe that I was already planning on making.  My sister raved about this recipe from Cooking Light, so I had to try it and see how it compared.  The recipes both share all the same key ingredients: whole wheat pasta, zucchini (of course), lemon, olive oil, almonds, and pecorino romano.  The two main differences between the two dishes are the cut of the zucchini (simple dice vs. painstakingly cut little slivers), addition of tomatoes, and number of ingredients.

The Cooking Light pasta adds both mint and thyme.  As much as I love mint in certain situations (like mint and chocolate, which I love), I’m wary of it in certain food combos such as pasta.  I just feel like it has a strong flavor and can overwhelm the dish.  I might have been a bit light-handed when I added it, but I thought it was fine, adding just a subtle mint flavor.

The thing about adding mint, thyme, and tomatoes for the CL recipe is that it’s more stuff to prep.  The SK recipe on the other hand, has you letting the zucchini and salt rest for 20 minutes, but of course you can prep the dressing while you do that (if you plan ahead better than we did).

So which one was better?  It’s a little hard to say.  The fresh tomatoes from the farmer’s market were pretty spectacular, so that was definitely one thing the CL recipe had going for it, but the prep took longer.  And while the zucchini for the SK recipe might have taken longer to cut, both Joseph and I really liked the texture of the slivers.  And let me tell you, ingredients definitely matter.  For the SK recipe we got pecorino romano from the wine and cheese shop down the street and it was amazingly good.  The pecorino romano for the CL recipe, which we got at a market near my office, was good, but just didn’t stand up to the first cheese. So maybe it’s because of the cheese, but we both preferred the Smitten Kitchen recipe slightly.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  They are both really good recipes, so why not try both?  If you’re growing zucchini you’re likely desperate to use some up and if you’re looking for produce at the farmer’s market, you’ll see all these beautiful zucchinis and want to take bunches of it home.  So try both and let me know which you prefer.

Zucchini Pasta with Almonds
Adapted from Cooking Light

Serves 4

2  cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2  tablespoons minced shallots
1  teaspoon minced fresh thyme
2  teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3/4  teaspoon kosher salt
1/2  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4  teaspoon sugar
5  teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1  lb fresh linguine
2-3 cloves minced garlic
3  cups chopped zucchini (about 1 pound)
3/4  cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3  tablespoons chopped fresh mint, divided
1/3  cup (1 1/2 ounces) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese
3  tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

Combine the first 7 ingredients (tomatoes through sugar) in a medium bowl. Add 2 teaspoons oil, tossing to coat.

Cook the pasta according to directions and drain.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a nonstick skillet pan. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté 30 seconds. Add zucchini and sauté 3 minutes or until they are crisp-tender. Add the broth and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cooked pasta and 1 1/2 tablespoons mint and toss well. Remove the pasta from heat and stir in the tomato mixture. Place the pasta into 4 bowls (or two bowls and two tupperware!) and top evenly with the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons mint. Sprinkle each serving with 4 teaspoons of cheese and 2 teaspoons almonds.


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