A beautifully simple and fragrant pasta dish, with the delicate flavours of courgettes (zucchini) and their flowers. Few but fine quality ingredients like whole wheat spaghetti, white wine, olive oil and spearmint, are the perfect partners for this summer vegetable, and come together to create a delightful, aromatic meal.
I love simple pasta dishes. Don’t get me wrong, I love the complicated ones as well, the ones loaded with cream, and five different types of cheeses, and meaty sauces, and bechamel, and lots of veggies and and and. Pasta is such a versatile food, you can cook it a thousand different ways. But no one can deny the gorgeous simplicity of a good plate of spaghetti that’s been cooked al dente with just a few great quality ingredients. Do you remember last year’s spaghetti with cherry tomatoes? That’s what I’m talking about.
This spaghetti is of a similar philosophy. A relatively short ingredient list (ok, not as short as the cherry tomatoes one, but short enough), with the sole requirement that these few ingredients are of good quality. This is the secret to the success of such pasta dishes.
I did quite a few experiments to get to this recipe. Originally I wanted something creamy. Whatever I used though, seemed to overshadow the flavour of the courgettes. I was also using lemon, which again is a little too strong I think. I was ending up with very tasty sauces, but not enough courgettiness (or zucchininess if you will). In the end I decided to go with a thought I had right at the beginning, which was to use white wine; a thought I had abandoned in favour of lemon, as I don’t very often use wine in cooking. That my friends, is going to change. The wine made a huge difference, for the better. I also ditched the creamy ingredients – it’s summer, so they aren’t necessary – and went with just olive oil. It was the right thing to do.
Somewhere along the way I also decided to pop some courgette flowers in there. I wasn’t sure it would work, but a quick internet search confirmed that indeed, it’s been done before (I mean using the flowers in a pasta dish). So I went ahead. I’ve only ever tried cooking zucchini flowers once in the past with unsatisfactory results, but more on that another time because I’m not giving up. So it turns out the flowers are quite delicious, and provide a little something different, as well as some lovely colour. But they aren’t vital to the recipe, so if you can’t find them just leave them out.
So, some things to remember. First of all, I’ll say it again, quality of ingredients. Good olive oil (it makes a difference despite the small amount), good pasta (I used a great whole wheat spaghetti that is very close to white pasta in flavour), good wine (I would say something you would drink happily, but in my case it should be something even better than that – just between us, I have been known to drink some cheapish wines quite happily! haha) and good courgettes (it’s worth going organic here, they are more flavourful).
Another thing to keep in mind is that this dish is best enjoyed straight after cooking. Nothing bad happens to it, but it does lose a bit of its fragrance I think if it sits around for too long.
Timing is very important with this sort of recipe. When you finish off pasta in its sauce, you need to have them both ready at the same time. The timings in the instructions allow for that. If you don’t feel confident with that, it’s best to make the sauce first then the pasta, since the spaghetti can stick if it sits around after it’s drained. If by chance you’re stuck with boiled pasta and your sauce is still cooking, drain it (reserving the water as per the recipe), pop it back in the pan and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil so it doesn’t stick.
Well, I think that’s it for pointers and notes. I hope I didn’t make it sound harder than it is. Oh, sorry, one more. Have all your ingredients measured out and ready before you start. Even the salt and pepper. It makes life SO much easier!
I hope you try the recipe, it’s really delicious, light and actually very filling with the whole wheat pasta. Do you have any simple yet elegant pasta dishes you love?