Zucchini 'spaghetti’ (with garlic shrimp)

Ah, zucchini time. At midsummer the one thing you can count on: the harvest of zucchini will be relentless until the end of September. It is the bane of the gardener who plants it every year and then laments its overabundance. Why, oh, why? I ask. Why do you do that?

I’ve no space at the moment, and as much as I have enjoyed gardening in the past, by mid-August my sails were usually deflated, and I always felt like the housework had  doubled, expanding to the outdoors. Now I have big pots of herbs to neglect, which seems less guilt-inducing.

Back to the squash. You’ve probably noticed that cooks have invented all sorts of uses for it—muffins, bread, pancakes, vegetable fritters—the list goes on. The truth about zucchini (don’t be haters) is that it’s just not that interesting. I don’t want to cook it unless it’s in the aforementioned muffins, bread, pancakes, or vegetable fritters. Until I met my new best friend the spiralizer. This little gizmo does only a few things, which is why I am philosophically opposed to it (acquisition aversion) but I fell for it anyway, and to be fair, it was on sale.

It has resurrected my appreciation for zucchini. Using the large-hole blade, you can make thick zucchini “spaghetti.” Crank the handle and you have long strands of the vegetable, ready to cook. It even takes out the core, which is comprised of seeds, so you don’t have the seeding chore. Anyone watching carbs this summer in order to EAT MORE ICE CREAM, will find that with the right accompaniments, this “pasta” beats the odds that zucchini is bland. So far I’ve made it with turkey meatballs and tomato sauce, and here, with garlicky shrimp. Zucchini vegetable cakes are in my future, too, as I think the swirls of thin strands will look pretty.

The key is to steam-fry the zucchini for less time than you think you should. You are supposedly frying it lightly, but zucchini is loaded with moisture, so it also steams. Garlic, basil, parsley, and lemon really pump up the flavors. Oh, and you don’t have to have a fancy spiralizer to make this. Just use a julienne peeler something like this one.

Garlic shrimp with zucchini “spaghetti’
Serves 6

3 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, or both (about 2 pounds)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Finely grated rind of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1. Trim and discard the bottoms and tops of the zucchini. With a julienne peeler, make spaghetti-like strands: Scrape the zucchini lengthwise on one side until you reveal the core. Turn and scrape on each of the remaining 3 sides, until only the core and seeds remain. Discard the core. Or use your handy-dandy spiralizer as described above.

2. In a bowl, toss the zucchini strands with salt and pepper.

3. In a large, non-stick skillet over medium high heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the zucchini. Cook, turning with tongs often, for  4 to 5 minutes, or until barely tender. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon rind, parsley, and basil. Add more salt and pepper to taste. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a platter, leaving excess liquid in the pan. Cover with foil and keep warm while you cook the shrimp.

4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon marash or Aleppo pepper, or pinch of red pepper
2 pounds extra-large shrimp (16-20 per pound), peeled
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. In a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil with the garlic and pepper. Swirl the pan to infuse the oil with the garlic. Add the shrimp and spread them to make one layer. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute. Turn, and cook for 1 minute more, or until the shrimp are cooked through.

2. With a slotted spoon, transfer them to the platter of zucchini, arranging them on top.

3. Add the white wine, lemon juice, and lemon rind to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Whisk in the butter and parsley, stirring until emulsified. Pour the sauce over the shrimp.

Posted on August 1, 2015 .