Monday, July 26, 2004


I'm not sure where I found this recipe, but I've had it for a couple of years. Pasta with potatoes seems like it would be starch overload, but the two go together surprisingly well. I suppose if you're "counting carbs" (ugh) you might want to steer away from this, but for everyone else it's a tasty and serviceable recipe. Best of all, it's very quick and easy, because you boil the pasta and vegetables together in the same pot and then just add some moisture and seasonings. I wouldn't eat it every day or serve it to elegant company--it's what the cookbooks call "hearty"--but it's a nice combination of flavors. I think zucchini may be my favorite vegetable, as well as a fun word to type.

1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2-3 tablespoons salt
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 pound spaghetti
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
2-4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or Italian parsley (basil is better, I think)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Bring water to a boil in a 5-quart pot. Add the potato and the 2-3 tablespoons salt (which sounds like a lot, but most of it stays in the water and not on the food). Cook these for 2 minutes, then add the zucchini and spaghetti to the water. Cook everything until pasta is al dente, being careful not to overcook the potatoes (which turns the dish into a sludgy mess) or the zucchini (which saps them of their nutrients).

2. Reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta and vegetables and return them to the pot.

3. Toss the pasta and vegetables with 3 tablespoons oil and season it with lots of freshly ground black pepper. Then add the basil (or parsley), 3 tablespoons of the cooking water, and the cheese. Toss again, gently to avoid making mashed potatoes. If the pasta looks too dry, feel free to add more water. Be forewarned it's not going to be the sauciest, slipperiest pasta you've ever seen, but it shouldn't be unpleasantly sticky, either. Taste for salt and pepper. Be generous with the pepper--it's great with zucchini.

Serves: 6 (WARNING--all these pasta recipes claim to serve 4 in Recipeland, a parallel universe where people apparently work in the fields all day to burn calories and stimulate their gigantic appetites. But it must be pointed out that a 1-pound package of pasta purports to contain 8 servings, and that's without the pound or so of veggies and cheese we just added. Granted, those 8 servings are probably tiny, maybe side dishes. But 4 servings seems equally unrealistic, even as a main course with no sides. If you're a moderate eater, expect 5 to 6 servings for this and most of the other pasta recipes I'll post.)
Time: 30-45 minutes for me, but I wasn't in any hurry. I bet you could do it faster.

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