Summer is here and it is hot hot hot, so the last thing that you want to do in 40°+ heat is spend ages in front of the stove cooking some elaborate dish. Firstly because it would be torture. Secondly because in this heat you probably wouldn’t even enjoy eating it anyway.
The solution is simplicity. Simple ingredients which require little to no preparation. This recipe, using courgettes and their flowers, is a great example of that.
When I first came to Italy I must confess that I had never tried zucchini flowers and had absolutely no idea that they were edible. Kind of kicking myself now that I know because my parents always grew courgettes in the garden, and I’m pretty sure that we must have thrown loads of flowers away without ever having the faintest idea that you can make all kinds of yummy recipes with them, including pasta dishes like this one and snacks/starters such as stuffed zucchini flowers (filled with mozzarella and fried until golden… oh my word…)
Can you get courgette/zucchini flowers where you live? I’m not sure if there are any alternatives for this recipe if you can’t, but you could add some cherry tomatoes instead for a tasty, albeit quite different, summer spaghetti dish.
You will need (for one):
80g of spaghetti
1 large courgette, chopped
2 handfuls of zucchini flowers with the centres removed
1 bag of saffron
1 large clove of garlic
1 tbsp of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan or other hard Italian cheese (optional)
1. Place the olive oil over medium heat and add the garlic clove, crushed a little to release the flavour but still whole so that you can remove it later.
2. When the garlic clove is sizzling and beginning to turn golden brown, add the chopped courgettes, stirring constantly.
3. After a few minutes when the courgettes have started to soften add a couple of tablespoons of water. If you want, you could also add a spoonful of white wine.
4. Add the zucchini flowers and continue to stir every now and again over a slightly lower heat.
5. In the meantime, stir the saffron into a quarter glass of warm water, then add to the pan. Add a pinch of salt.
6. While the water evaporates (keep stirring every now and again!) prepare the pasta in plenty of salted water. Remember not to overcook it, this is even more important in summer as you want to keep the meal as easily digestible as possible.
7. Once the pasta is ready, remove the garlic then drain and stir the spaghetti into the pan with the courgettes and flowers. Add black pepper and cheese to taste (in summer I would skip the cheese).
8. Serve with a cold jug of lemon water.