If you love pasta, but want to substitute the pasta with a non-grain alternative, try this easy Zucchini and Yellow Squash Ribbon dish. It’s very easy to make; you can have a meal on your table in a half hour. You can make it completely vegetarian or add a protein like chicken or shrimp. This is a great one pot meal. The only other equipment needed is a mandolin (I have a Japanese mandolin) to slice the vegetables into thin ribbons. If you don’t have a mandolin, you can slice vegetables by hand with a vegetable peeler.
This sauce has many uses beyond pasta. In our house we smear it on our sandwiches or lighten the sauce with more olive oil to add to our salads. Pesto is great on a salad of sliced summer tomatoes and sliced mozzarella cheese with basil.
¼ C pine nuts
1 C Italian basil (firmly packed in measuring cup)
½ C grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 C olive oil
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread pine nuts on a baking sheet and roast for about 2 minutes. Watch the roasting time; nuts can burn within seconds. Allow the pine nuts to cool.
In a food processor or blender add the pine nuts, basil, parmesan cheese, garlic and black pepper. With the blender or food processor running, slowly pour in the olive oil, until blended to a consistency you like. If it is too thick, continue to slowly pour a little more olive oil. Set aside.
Note: You can store any leftover sauce in the refrigerator for about two weeks, or freeze in small containers for months.
Zucchini and Yellow Squash Ribbon
Prep Time: 10 minutes using a mandolin or vegetable to to slice
Cooking time: 2 minutes
Serves: 4 main dishes
4 medium zucchinis
2 medium yellow squashes
1 small onion, thinly sliced
½ pint of any kind of sweet red or yellow cherry tomatoes
Cut squashes in half. With a spoon remove seeds from the yellow squash. Shave the zucchini and yellow squash into long wide ribbons using a vegetable peeler or mandolin. Salt lightly and set aside.
Fill a medium size stock pot half way with water and bring to a boil. Add zucchini and yellow squash ribbons and cook for about 2 minutes. Do not cover with lid. Watch carefully – you do not want to overcook. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water and set aside.
If you are planning to add shrimp or any white, firm fish: Coat the bottom of hot skillet with oil. Add 3 cloves of sliced garlic and brown until golden. Add shrimp or fish to the pan in a single layer and cook until it is no longer pink or raw (about a minute on both sides for shrimp and 3-4 minutes for fish) and set aside.
If you plan to use chicken: Coat the bottom of hot skillet with oil. Add 3 cloves of sliced garlic and bite-size chicken in a single layer and sauté both sides until golden brown and cooked through (about 3-4 minutes per side). Set aside.
Add the onion to pan and cherry tomatoes and saute until translucent and tomatoes are soft (5 minutes.) Return protein, zucchini and yellow squash back into the pan and heated through. Depending on how much pesto you like, add anywhere from ¼ to 1/3 cup of pesto sauce. Mix and serve immediately