Last year, I bought a coupon on Amazon Local for a home-cooked Italian meal with Sandra Catena, The Feisty Italian. She came to our old apartment to teach us how to cook the meal. One of the simplest and most delicious courses was the pasta, dressed simply with cubes of mozzarella cheese. The cheese melted in the heat of the spaghetti–a quick and easy version of mac and cheese! I remembered that when I made this dish. This is a great one dish meatless meal–and it cooked up in about half an hour. To save time, I skipped the fresh corn and used frozen. The oil I didn’t use to fry the zucchini I used to flavor the pasta. Then I dressed it up with mozzarella cheese, a delicious lesson learned from Sandra.
Warm Pasta Salad with Corn and Zucchini (adapted from Skinnytaste.com)
2-4 teaspoons olive oil
4 cups sliced zucchini (2 medium zucchini sliced into 1/2 inch thick rounds)
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (3 ears of corn)
1/2 cup red or yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red or yellow sweet bell pepper, thinly sliced
8 oz uncooked pasta
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
1/3 cup “black Italian olives” (I used kalamata)
1/2 to 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
8 basil leaves, chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain cooked pasta and set aside.
Spray cooking spray in a large skillet and heat it over medium high heat. You will need to cook the zucchini in two batches. Place the zucchini rounds in a single layer in the skillet. Cook 5 minutes on one side until roasted, then turn and cook again for 5 more minutes. Remove zucchini and set aside. Spray the pan again and put in another layer of zucchini rounds. Repeat.
Remove zucchini and add 2 teaspoons oil to the pan. Add the onion, peppers, and corn. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the pan-fried zucchini, pasta, pepper flakes, vinegar, olives, cheese, and basil. Sprinkle a teaspoon or two of olive oil. Add salt to taste. Toss. Spoon onto plates and sprinkle freshly ground pepper on top.
The original America’s Test Kitchen recipe used Gruyère cheese but why be fancy? I used mozzarella, which was all I had on hand in the Teeny Tiny Kitchen. In fact, whether or not you have Gruyère cheese on hand is immaterial. This isn’t hard to make at all and makes a quick delicious and filling breakfast when you are tired of eating scrambled eggs and omelets! To make this you will need a large rimmed baking tray approximately 18×13 inches, and a large sheet of parchment paper that extends about 1-2 inches over the sides. What I did was crease the parchment into the edges and corners of the baking sheet to “mark” the boundary. This will be important later.
5 ounces baby spinach (about 5 cups)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup nonfat milk
2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
10 large egg whites or 1 1/4 cups store-bought egg whites
5 large eggs
1-2 garlic cloves, minced to a paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 ounces (1/2 cup) shredded cheese (Gruyère in original recipe)
Vegetable oil spray
1. Prepare to bake. I set the oven rack to the middle position and heated the oven to 375˚F. Then I lined an 18×13 inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, with about 1-2 inches extra to overhang on all sides. This will help you to keep the egg mixture on the paper so that you can roll it up easily when it’s cooked. Finally I coated the parchment generously with cooking spray and set it aside.
2. Microwave the spinach. I put the spinach and water in a microwave-safe bowl, covered the bowl and microwaved it on high heat until the spinach wilted and decreased in volume by half, 3-5 minutes. Using potholders, I removed the bowl and transferred the spinach to a colander. Using a potato masher, I pressed out the water. I find that when it is cool enough to handle, squeezing the spinach with my hands is the best way to press out excess water.
3. Make garlic paste. Using a chef’s knife, I chopped up 1-2 cloves garlic until fine. I sprinkled the garlic with a pinch of salt then dragged the side of the knife at a slight angle over the mixture to make a fine paste. I continued to mince and drag the knife until the paste was smooth. Then I set it aside so I could make the batter.
4. Make the batter. In a medium bowl, I whisked together the milk and flour until it was smooth. In a large bowl, I whisked the egg whites, eggs, garlic paste, salt and pepper. Then I whisked in the milk mixture until combined. Carefully, I poured the egg mixture into the prepared baking sheet within the marked boundary. You need the overhang otherwise the egg mixture will get under the paper and you will bake the paper into the roulade. Finally, I sprinkled the drained spinach and cheese on top.
5. Bake and serve. I baked the roulade (that’s French for roll) until the cheese melted and the eggs were just set, about 11 minutes. I rotated the baking sheet once about halfway through the baking time. When the time was up I removed the baking sheet from the oven. Beginning at the short end, I used the extra end of the parchment paper to lift and roll the egg over itself into a tight cylinder. Careful, it’s hot. Then I picked up the two ends of the parchment paper to transfer the roulade to a cutting board. I sliced it into pinwheels and served it with Sriracha sauce.*
*Sriracha is a hot sauce made in Thailand. It’s available from Asian markets.