Squash and Zucchini Marinara

When I planned my kitchen garden this year, I greatly underestimated the amount of sunlight my little corner of the yard would get over the course of the summer. As a result it’s flush with pole beans, mustard greens, beets, spinach and chard (although the last two never grew, argh!), instead of tomatoes, cukes, and summer squash.

Sometime in July I noticed some suspicious “weeds” in the soil, but since I’d been away for a week I actually noticed that their leaves looked a lot like those characteristic of squash (and zucchini, and pumpkins, and everything else in the Cucurbita family). HALLELUJAH!

They haven’t actually developed fruit yet, probably because of the incredibly rainy first half of the summer, but it put me in the mood for summer squash. This dish is one of my favorite ways to do several things: use summer squash, eat warm vegetables, and pretend to eat lots and lots of guilt-free pasta.

The trick is to slice the squash and zucchini with a vegetable peeler, then leave the inner seed-y cores for another meal. It takes a couple of minutes per squash to make the “pasta.”

Kiki loved this part of our meal last week and I should have posted this a while ago so she could make it at home. Props go to Mike for the recipe, of course, who came up with this last winter (or at least shared it with me then).

Squash and Zucchini Marinara
Serves 4-6

~2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 red onion, diced
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 28-oz can petite diced tomatoes, juice reserved
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp dried basil (Italian seasoning mix would work, too)
Capful of vermouth or vodka
Salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 oz. shaved Parmesan

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in the bottom of a 2-quart saucepan until shimmering, then saute onion and shallot with a few pinches of salt and pepper for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds. Add diced tomatoes and saute for about 2 minutes, then add reserved juice, crushed tomatoes, dried basil, vermouth, and a few more pinches of salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes.

While simmering sauce, create squash and zucchini pasta by slicing thin with a vegetable peeler. Reserve the seed-y cores for another meal.

When sauce is almost done, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a saute pan. Add squash and zucchini and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add sauce to pan and toss to coat. Cook for about 2 minutes, then serve with shaved Parmesan.

Adding salt, pepper, and other seasonings is best when done in “layers.” In other words, add flavor every time you add a “set” of ingredients.

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