Do you ever get obsessed with eating or fantasising about eating one particular thing, week on week, day on day, meal on meal? I have that obsessive tendency, where I fall in love with a particular dish, and just can’t get enough of it – until one fine day, the obsession dies out completely. I’m still unsure about whether its because I overdid it, or because the dish outlived its welcome. In either way, the evidence is clear – when my heart falls into a plate, it takes a while for me to get it off that plate!
It started a few weeks ago, with creating Ribboned Zucchini with Almond Pesto and Truffle Drizzle. Unhappy with the actual ribbons that were created, I went out and bought a cute little handheld spiraliser, to give me those perfectly extra long and thin spaghetti like zucchini ribbons. After step one was done, I decided that I wanted to make a pasta that wasn’t ‘saucy’ in the slightest, but which burst with flavours, was clean on the palate and looked amazing.
The first pursuit ended in the creation of penne with a ribboned zucchini (old style ribbons, not with the spiraliser) and sliced cremini mushrooms. It tasted almost brilliant. What it lacked was the correct textures – the penne did absolutely nothing for the zucchini, which itself was too broad and thick and untidy. But the flavour profile worked incredibly well, forming an ideal hot bed for developing this masterful end product.
The amended and final form consists of tagliatelle cooked perfectly al dente, zucchini spaghetti, tons of fresh basil, a few wood ear mushrooms for textural contrast, cooked with olive oil, garlic and parmesan, topped with freshly cracked pepper and sea salt.
A lot of people don’t love wood ear mushrooms, which can easily be substituted with mushroom of choice, and can even be omitted completely.
Serve with a handful of parmesan, and bring out those bottles of flavoured oils to complement the delicate dish, which is guaranteed to become a staple in your repertoire. I brought out my favourites – chilli infused olive oil and the Croatian basil extra virgin olive oil we picked up on our travels there.
- 180gm tagliatelle pasta (approximately 6 clusters)
- 1 zucchini, ribboned using a peeler or spiraliser
- 3-4 wood ear mushrooms, rehydrated in boiling water (or any other mushroom of choice, sliced)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 4-5 tbs parmesan, grated
- 3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
- Freshly cracked pepper and sea salt, to taste
- 6-7 walnuts, halved
- Flavoured olive oils, to serve
- Cook the tagliatelle in salted boiling water, with a tsp of olive oil in it, for approximately 7-9 minutes, until al dente.
- In the mean time, in a pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic until fragrant but not brown, and add in the mushrooms and zucchini and cook for 2-3 minutes. Season to taste. Take the pan off the heat.
- Add in the walnuts and 1/2 cup of the basil leaves and stir to combine, until the basil is wilted. Add in the drained pasta, parmesan and balance basil.
- Mix well and serve steaming hot with flavoured olive oils.
- This pasta tastes great chilled too, so you can make this ahead of time and serve as a cold appetiser.
- If you find the pasta getting a bit dry when mixed in with the vegetables, retain a little bit of pasta water to loosen up the dry pasta.
- Keep checking the seasoning, as the dish may be bland otherwise.