Over the past few years, while cruising down the produce aisles of our local supermarkets, I’ve picked up packages of spiralized zucchini, anxious to substitute the spaghetti-like vegetable strands for my typical high carb pasta. Cooking zucchini “pasta,” however, was not so easy. When I boiled it, the strands seemed to absorb too much water and were limp. Next I sautéed them and watched the threads break into pieces. This summer, though, while visiting friends on Cape Cod, I serendipitously discovered a successful cooking technique.
We had arrived for dinner during a power outage, so our pals (unable to use their stove), were heating up their outdoor grill. Pitching in to help, I suggested seasoning the zucchini and cooking it in packets over the charcoal fire. Much to our surprise, the zucchini cooked to a perfect doneness in no time at all!
Tossed in olive oil and seasoned with Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest, the zucchini strands (wrapped in heavy duty foil packages) were firm but tender–vegetarian al dente! At home, I put courgette-filled packages in my oven, and was thrilled to discover that they also came out perfectly cooked and were ready in 10 minutes. Our hosts topped their zucchini “pasta” with grilled shrimp while I pan seared sea scallops for my oven-cooked version which follows!
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Zucchini Pasta with Pan-Seared Scalllops
2 pd zucchini cut in spirals patted dry
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Scant 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
4 tsp grated lemon zest
About 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano Reggiano, plus extra for serving, optional
Olive oil for sautéing
12 scallops (about 3/4 pd.)
Freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp lemon juice
6 cherry tomatoes,
Regular or heavy duty aluminum foil
1. Using a clean kitchen towel, blot the zucchini several times to remove as much moisture as possible. Transfer zucchini to a large mixing bowl and toss with the olive oil. Gently stir in salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest. Then stir in 6 1/2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese..
2. Cut four 12-inch squares of heavy duty aluminum (or use 2 sheets regular foil per packet). Mound a fourth of the seasoned zucchini in the center of each square. Then bring up edges on two sides and fold over 1/2 inch a couple of times so that the foil domes over the zucchini Fold remaining sides down to form packets. Place on a baking sheet. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Refrigerate and bring to room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.)
3. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
4. Bake zucchini packets until zucchini is heated through and tender, about 10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, pat scallops dry with paper towels, and salt and pepper them on both sides. Heat enough oil to film the bottom of a large, heavy skillet set over medium high heat. When quite hot, add scallops and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes per side, no more than 5 minutes total. Do not overcook or scallops will be dry.
6 To serve, transfer pasta to four shallow bowls, pouring any juices collected in packets over the pasts. Arrange three scallops on top of each mound and drizzle them with 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice. Garnish each serving with cherry tomatoes, and sprinkle generously with some of the remaining Parmesan. If you like, serve extra Parmesan cheese in a bowl for extra sprinkling. Serves 4.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2019