Pasta with Zucchini

Horses and pasta

Walking around in the supermarket trying to find nice vegetables wasn’t the easiest in the small town. But I did need to pick something now that I had finally made it in time to a supermarket. I was traveling through Iceland, enjoying the incredible nature. Every day there were again new, amazing places to visit. From the fire of the erupting Fagradalsfjall volcano to the ice of the Vatnajökull glacier and lots of large and smaller waterfalls in between, there was so much to see, do and explore. And with the long days it was easy to forget the time and to forget that shops close around 7pm.

But the next day I was happy that I had made it in time and that I did buy pasta and vegetables to cook dinner. Because to reach the guesthouse where I was staying that night I took one of the many gravel roads going off the ring road. After about 10 kilometers I had arrived at my guesthouse, a very Icelandic red wooden house. Next to the house there were horse stables. The next door neighbour? Definitely not very close. The owner of the house showed me the room and the hot tub. That would be private for me that evening since it turned out I was the only guest staying. But that did not mean the place was boring. There was a lot going on actually. The owner told me he had around 120 horses. And just when I was cooking in the large open kitchen, he was selling 5 of them to a German horse trader. Besides, there was an international couple staying there, working for accommodation. And just beautiful surroundings: the fields with all the horses and mountains surrounding them.

So again, a good thing I made it to the supermarket, because the nearest restaurant would have been quite a drive away. I cooked one of my “hostel staples” that evening, a pasta with zucchini, while the sale of the horses was being negotiated in German. After this it was time for a walk to the horses and around the house, it would only get dark around 11pm anyway. And of course, some time to enjoy the hot tub after.

Pasta with zucchini

You can add to the dish with additional flavours. For example by adding some lemon zest and juice at the end or some parmesan cheese and fresh basil on top.

Ingredients (for 2)

  • 200 grams of penne, fusilli or other short pasta
  • 1 onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 medium zucchini, or 2 small ones
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, or another woody fresh herb like sage
  • 1 dried red chilli – optional in case you like some spice
  • 1 small glass of white wine – optional
  • Olive oil
  • Black pepper
  • Salt

Start by finely chopping the onion and mincing the garlic. If you have quite a thick zucchini, slice it lengthwise in halves and those halves into thin half circles. If your zucchini is thinner just slice it into circles of around 3mm thick. Chop the herbs and the chilli, if using, finely as well.

Heat a frying pan with a good lug of olive oil over a low to medium heat. Add the onion and season with a pinch of salt and black pepper. Slowly fry the onion for around 12 minutes, until it has softened up and starts to brown. Don’t skip the cooking time since giving the onion some time really adds to the flavour. Once the onion has softened up add the garlic, herbs and the chilli. Fry for around two minutes all together until the garlic becomes fragrant. Then add the zucchini and an additional pinch of salt and black pepper. Keep stirring or shaking the pan once in a while.

Meanwhile, place a large pot of salted water over high heat and bring this to the boil. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook until al dente, for around 10 minutes depending on the type of pasta you are using.
Once the zucchini has been in the pan for around 15 minutes and just before the pasta is ready, add the wine to the pan. If you don’t use wine, add a few tablespoons of cooking water from the pasta instead. Turn the fire a bit higher and let the wine cook in for around 2 minutes. Taste to check if the zucchini is cooked and soft and if any additional seasoning is needed.

By then, the pasta should be ready. Drain the pasta and put back into the pot. Add the zucchini mixture and a tablespoon of additional olive oil. Mix well before dividing it over two plates.
Enjoy immediately, while still hot.

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