This summer, I attempted a little gardening, and I learned that I do not have a green thumb. The truth is… I killed a cactus. I bought the most darling hen and chicks cactus to live on my patio. There were two plants, nestled together in a pitcher. I named the big one Melanie, and the little one Melvin (Mellie and Mel for short). Last week, I discovered that Melanie was all shriveled up and brown. I made a fruitless attempt to save her by removing some of the brown leaves, and she became dislodged from the soil. Below, you can see lonely little Melvin and the sad spot where Melanie used to reside. I also have two leggy basil plants, named Rufus and Alberta, who have had multiple near death experiences due to highly inconsistent (and irresponsible) watering practices.
Luckily, people exist in the world that are able to maintain an actual garden, unlike me, the cactus killer. I am grateful to these people because they give me hope that my gardening skills may turn around one day, and I am especially grateful when capable gardeners share their loot with me. Some garden-fresh zucchini were recently placed in my custody, and they were so delicious. I love zucchini, and to have some home grown ones bestowed upon me was such a treat. They were small and tender, unlike some of those big, seedy ones you sometimes find in the market.
Such perfect specimens deserved a simple preparation that would highlight the zucchini itself. I chose to sauté the zucchini with garlic and olive oil, and toss this concoction with pasta, fresh herbs, and cheese. It was delicious, and it can be prepared in the amount of time it takes to cook the pasta.
While the water came to a boil, I chopped up the zucchini, garlic, and herbs, and once the pasta was in the water, I began sautéing. For one generous portion, I used one zucchini, one clove of garlic, about ¼ of a box of pasta, and a few tablespoons of herbs. I sautéed the zucchini for about 5-7 minutes, so it softened, but it was still crisp in the middle. I also added a few tablespoons of white wine at the end to stop the garlic from getting too brown (and because I happened to have it in the fridge).
When the pasta was done, I put it directly in the pan with the zucchini, and added the chopped herbs. I had the perfect storm of leftover herbs for this dish: basil, parsley, and dill. It was a fresh and delightful combination, but any one of those herbs would have done the trick. And then of course, I added (a lot) of Parmesan cheese, and a little Asiago. These ideas are merely guidelines (I intend to make it again tonight with thyme and basil from my dilapidated herb garden). The method is less important than the fact that the fresh zucchini was such a treat. I could have eaten the zucchini straight from the pan and called it dinner.