on August 11, 2014
Ferragosto: the iconic day when everybody in Italy flees the cities – brutally hot at this time of year – and heads for the countryside or beach. It’s a real celebration of the good life; a day (or two or three) to seize the moment, relax alongside friends and family and, of course, indulge in food and drink.
Ferragosto, which takes place each year on August 15, is one of those days that I always dream of being in Italy. Some visitors might be frustrated by the lack of activity in major cities, but I love the idea of pressing pause on the day-to-day routine and taking time out to do something special.
Although August 15 isn’t an official holiday here in the US, I think any excuse to get together is a good one, not to mention Ferragosto falls on a Friday this year. If you’re like me and plan to celebrate the Italian way of life, you can also pay tribute to the Bel Paese on your plate with this summery dish that I like to call pasta tricolore. It uses the bounty of zucchini growing in the garden right now as well as semi-dried tomatoes, which are, in my opinion, a truly Italian flavor.
I threw this recipe together in a simple attempt to use up some ingredients, but when I looked down at my plate, I realized it resembled the tricolore, the Italian flag. With the color combination and selection of ingredients, it seems to me the perfect dish to celebrate the truly Italian holiday that is Ferragosto.
Makes 4 servings
• 14 oz pasta (I’d recommend penne or casarecce)
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 1 cup semi-dried tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
• 3 medium zucchini, grated (should yield about 5 cups)
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
• Red pepper flakes
• 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for topping
Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to instructions on the package.
Meanwhile, dry roast the pine nuts over medium heat in a sauté pan. Once they’re lightly toasted, remove and set aside.
Add the olive oil to the pan and sauté the garlic for a minute or two. Add a dash of red pepper flakes and then mix in the zucchini. Stir frequently, allowing it to cook until it begins to brown, about 7 to 10 minutes.
When the zucchini needs only a minute or two more, stir in the semi-dried tomatoes. Remove from heat and add in the pine nuts.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and return it to the pot. Stir in the zucchini mixture along with the Parmigiano.
Serve hot with a sprinkling of Parmigiano on top.