No-Cook Pasta Sauce #1: Angel Hair Zucchini

No-Cook Pasta Sauce #1: Angel Hair Zucchini

I’m on deadline with a bunch of projects this week, so I’ll keep it short and simple.

It’s hot. I don’t want to cook, especially because I’m testing at least two desserts a day for the Easy Indulgences chapter of the cookbook. So I don’t cook. Well, I cook a little—just a single pot, for pasta—but I’m mostly out of the kitchen while that’s happening, away from the heat. The two no-cook sauces I’m going to show you this week are both prepared before you ever turn on the water, so it’s totally possible to stay cool and content the entire time you’re making dinner. Yes, I know. It’s a miracle.

This first recipe, Angel Hair Zucchini, was inspired by a winner over on Food 52, Zucchagetti. They took zucchini and turned it into long strands akin to spaghetti, paired with a creamy dressing, for a side. I borrowed their zucchini-prep technique and used it for a main course dish.

Note: This works a whole lot better if you’ve got a mandoline. It doesn’t need to be a fancy one—my Benriner is on Amazon for about twenty bucks. With a mandoline, the prep is about ten minutes. Without one, you’re looking at more like a half-hour—you can use a vegetable peeler to make long ribbons, then stack the ribbons and cut them into strands, or you can do it entirely by hand.

If you do use a mandoline, watch your fingers! I had a lot of trouble using the hand guard with my zucchini—it kept breaking off chunks—so I just gave up and used my bare hands. Mistake.

Angel Hair Zucchini
Serves 2, but doubles easily
Cooking Time: 60 minutes (20 minutes active)
Weight Watchers: One serving is 7 Points

3 small zucchini, trimmed and julienned into long strands
4 ounces angel hair pasta
1/4 cup basil leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

About an hour before you plan to eat, julienne the zucchini and put it in a colander. Toss with 1 teaspoon salt, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, until much of the liquid has been drawn out.

About 25 minutes before you plan to eat, put a large pot of salted water on to boil—cover it to speed things up. When it boils, cook pasta according to package directions.

While it’s cooking, lay a kitchen towel on the counter. Take handfuls of the zucchini and give them a good squeeze over the sink to wring out as much liquid as possible. Spread the zucchini out on the towel, and roll it up like a jellyroll. Squeeze over the sink to remove even more moisture. Unroll over a large serving bowl, and let all the zucchini fall into it.

Next, chiffonade the basil leaves: Stack them up, roll them into a cigar, and cut as thin as possible. Unroll and you’ll have beautiful slivers. Put these into the bowl (save a handful for sprinkling on top, if you want it to be pretty).

Before draining the pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. When it’s drained, add the pasta to the bowl. Pour on the olive oil, lemon juice, and Parm, and toss well (I use tongs for this). Add splashes of the reserved cooking water if it looks too dry, until the pasta glistens.

Serve topped with additional Parm.