Tuesday, November 02, 2004


Faithful BookCook readers will have realized by now that I possess an endless parade of recipes for pasta with vegetables, so the name “Spaghetti With Lots of Nice Vegetables” seems incredibly undescriptive and unhelpful—at least until you consider that its original name, in whatever cookbook I found it in, was “Ligurian-Style Spaghetti.” I can’t in good conscience go around using the word “Ligurian” when I don’t even know what it means, particularly not to describe a simple pasta dish. If A were to ask, “What are we having for dinner tonight?” and I answered, “Ligurian-Style Spaghetti,” that would be no help to anybody. In comparison, the new name I’ve come up with is a miracle of clarity. I have, by the way, consulted the American Heritage Dictionary on this, and it turns out Liguria is “A region of northwest Italy on the Ligurian Sea, an arm of the Mediterranean Sea between northwest Italy and Corsica. Named for an ancient pre-Indo-European people, the Ligurii, the region was subdued by the Romans in the 2nd century b.c. and was later (16th–19th century) controlled by Genoa. A small section of the coastline surrounding Genoa formed the Ligurian Republic from 1797 until 1815.” This is enlightening, but my dinner doesn’t need quite so much provenance. The new name sticks.

Although I don’t ever exactly crave this meal, it’s in the regular repertoire because it’s colorful, fresh, light, and complex-tasting. There aren’t a lot of surprises here (except possibly the carrots), but everything comes together exceptionally well. There are no difficulties in the preparation, beyond the large variety of ingredients (lots of chopping and slicing). I cooked it without incident last night and we both wolfed down our portions. A especially enjoyed it and declared me to be “on a roll” in the kitchen.

4 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into small julienne strips
1 small zucchini, cut into small julienne strips
1 small yellow zucchini or summer squash, cut into small julienne strips
1 tablespoon salt, plus extra for seasoning
1 pound spaghetti
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Mix tomatoes, 1 tablespoon basil, 1 tablespoon parsley, and 2 tablesoons oil in a small bowl.

2. Put 1 tablespoon salt into a large pot of water and put it on the stove to boil for the pasta. Heat the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it's fully warm, add the garlic, onion, and carrot, season them with a little salt, and cook them, stirring frequently—the recipe says for 5 minutes, but I do it for longer, at least 10 minutes, until the onions and carrot are quite soft, because that is how I like them. Add the zucchini and summer squash, again seasoning with a little salt, and cook until they're tender (again, the recipe says 5 minutes; again, I probably do it longer). Turn off the heat and stir in the remaining basil and parsley.

3. Meanwhile, when the water boils, added the spaghetti and cook it until al dente. Drain it, add it to the skillet, and toss with the vegetable sauce. Serve each portion topped with some of the tomato mixture, Parmesan cheese to taste, a little pepper.

Serves: 6
Time: 30-45 minutes

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