Sum­mer squash makes fla­vor­ful ‘pasta’ dish

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE / DINING - By SARAMOULTON Associated Press

Sum­mer squash re­pro­duces so en­er­get­i­cally that call­ing it pro­lific is un­der­stat­ing the case. Still, why not take ad­van­tage of its bounty? Here I slice the squash into long rib­bons and em­ploy it as “pasta”. Use a man­do­line (be sure to use the guard that comes with it), al­though a Y-shaped peeler will also work. The re­sult­ing “pasta” is more fla­vor­ful and less caloric than pasta it­self.

I coat the sliced squash with a creamy sauce based on low-fat cream cheese, some­times called Neufcha­tel, which is lower in fat and calo­ries than full-fat cream cheese and also lighter in tex­ture. And it’s one of the few dairy prod­ucts that can be heated in a sauce with­out cur­dling in the process.

Sum­mer squash is so ten­der and del­i­cate that it’s eas­ily over­cooked and turned into mush. The goal is to cook it so that it re­tains a bit of bite, just like pasta al dente.

Ac­cord­ingly, cook it briefly, stir­ring gen­tly with tongs. Ac­tu­ally, you don’t even stir it; just lift it up and move it around. If you sliced the squash with a man­do­line, the “pasta” will likely be thicker than if you used a peeler and will prob­a­bly re­quire three full min­utes to cook. If you used a peeler, you may need no more than two min­utes. Again, you want it to turn out ten­der with a hint of firm­ness.

Sum­mer squash gives off a lot of wa­ter as it cooks, which tends to di­lute the sauce. That’s why I ad­vise you to re­move the cooked squash from the skil­let (to keep it from over­cook­ing) and then re­duce the sauce. Boil­ing off the ex­tra wa­ter in this way helps con­cen­trate the sauce’s fla­vor and make it creamy. Once you’ve re­duced the sauce, add back the squash.

For a veg­e­tar­ian dish, omit the prosci­utto and use veg­etable broth in­stead of chicken broth. Serve with a tossed green salad or­some­dressed sliced toma­toes, and a slice or two of crusty bread.

Sum­mer squash rib­bon “pasta” with lemon cream sauce

Start to fin­ish: 40 min­utes (30 ac­tive) Serves 4 2 pounds medium sum­mer squash (zuc­chini, yel­low squash or a mix) 1 cup chicken or veg­etable broth 1 tea­spoon lemon zest 6 ounces Neufcha­tel (1/3-less-fat cream­cheese) Salt and black pep­per 2 ounces thinly sliced prosci­utto cut into strips, op­tional 1 to 2 tea­spoons fresh lemon juice 1/3 cup toasted chopped wal­nuts, al­monds or pis­ta­chios Freshly grated Parmi­giano-Reg­giano for gar­nish 1/3 cup finely chopped pars­ley

Cut off the ends of the squash and, us­ing a man­do­line or a Y-shaped peeler, slice or shave the squash about 1/8-inch thick into wide rib­bon-like strips.

In a large skil­let, com­bine the chicken broth and the zest; whisk the mix- ture un­til the zest is evenly dis­trib­uted. Bring the mix­ture to a boil, break the cheese into small pieces and add it to the skil­let. Re­duce the heat to a sim­mer, cover the pan and let sim­mer for three min­utes. Re­move the lid and whisk the mix­ture un­til smooth.

Add the squash rib­bons, a pinch of salt and sev­eral grinds of pep­per and, us­ing tongs, very gen­tly lift up and turn the rib­bons in the sauce so they are evenly dis­trib­uted. Cover and cook for three min­utes, stir­ring the squash once or twice with the tongs. Re­move the pan from the heat, us­ing the tongs trans­fer the rib­bons from the skil­let to a large bowl, mak­ing sure all the liq­uid cling­ing to the squash drips back into the pan.

Re­turn the skil­let to the heat and sim­mer the liq­uid, whisk­ing ev­ery so of­ten un­til it is thick­ened, about five min­utes. Re­turn the squash to the skil­let, along with the prosci­utto and lemon juice; cook for one minute, stir­ring with the tongs. Di­vide the squash and sauce among four pasta bowls; top each por­tion with some of the nuts, the cheese and the pars­ley. SaraMoulton was ex­ec­u­tive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade host­ing sev­eral Food Net­work shows.


Zuc­chini rib­bon “pasta” in lemon cream sauce, a dish from a recipe by Sara Moul­ton.

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