I was in charge of keeping my friend Valerie’s garden alive while she and her husband were traveling a couple of weeks ago, and her zucchini plants started to yield the first blossoms and baby zucchini.
Zucchini blossom are not easy to come by in Hawai’i because they are still not widely known, and I haven’t been to Italy in the summer in some years. I was thrilled at the thought of having some, and a dish with linguine came to mind. Then I thought I would add saffron, which I love. On my way home I thought I would stop to pick up some shrimp as they would make a nice addition and complete my lunch with some protein.
Doesn’t it just look divine? It tastes just as good as it looks, it is easy to make and does not take much time.
You will only need a few ingredients: the pasta you fancy in the moment – I used linguine – a few baby zucchini and blossoms, fresh shrimp and good quality saffron. You do know how to cook pasta by now, don’t you? All right, so let’s get going.
LINGUINE WITH ZUCCHINI BLOSSOM, SHRIMP AND SAFFRON
yields 1 portion – multiply as needed
– 80 gr./ca. 3oz. linguine (or pasta of your choice)
– 3-4 baby zucchini – if the flower is still attached and fresh even better
– 4-5 extra zucchini flowers
– 4 large shrimp, shelled and deveined
– a pinch of good quality saffron powder – use the tip of a spoon so none of it gets wasted on your fingers
– extra virgin olive oil
– 1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley
– sea salt
– coarse sea salt for the pasta water
– freshly cracked black pepper
The “sauce” can be prepared while the pasta cooks.
I chose to cut the shrimp in half completely, so they would make for smaller bites. But you can just butterfly them if you prefer. If you add a little extra pasta and a couple more shrimp, this can be a one-plate complete meal.
1. Bring the water for cooking pasta to a boil in a medium-large pot, add a handful of coarse sea salt and, when the water boils, add the pasta and stir, cooking until al dente.
2. When the pasta is only 3-4 minutes away from being ready: heat 2 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a sauté pan or skillet. Add the zucchini and shrimp, season with salt and pepper and flip/toss or stir. Make sure the heat is high so as to color both zucchini and shrimp, as they will be cooked in no time.
Add a little of pasta water (about 3 Tablesoons, no more), then sprinkle in the saffron and stir. The pasta water will help dissolve and distribute the saffron powder, and then will evaporate. Add the zucchini blossom for last, as they will go limp right away in the heat. Test for salt and adjust as needed. Remove from heat. I have a gas stove so I just turn off the burner.
3. Pour the cooked pasta and water through a strainer, shake to drain well, and add to the pan with the zucchini & shrimp, turning on the heat again. Drizzle a little more extra-virgin olive oil and flip/toss or stir. Remove from heat. Transfer to a hot plate and sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley to finish.
Wasn’t that easy? If you leave out the shrimp you still have a wonderful and tasty dish that is vegetarian. Actually, it is also vegan, as it is only fresh egg pasta that, as the name says, contains eggs.
This is the first original recipe posted on this blog-a-zine. If you are interested in more recipes, you can take a peek on my Food Journey blog, or patiently wait while I integrate them all into this one over the coming months. Food Journey will remain available on line for some time to come, until I am sure that all my followers know about the transfer.
Do you have a favorite pasta dish that you like to make? And from 1 to 100, how much do you love saffron?
If you make this pasta recipe, I would love to know how you liked it.