Recipe: Orecchiette with Baby Zucchini, Saucisson a l’Ail, and Mint
The only great zucchini is really young zucchini, the kind I’m finding right now at the Greenmarket. They’re small, skinny, and firm, like we’d all love to be forever and ever. As you all know, zucchini can rage out of control, becoming huge and inedible toward summer’s end, so grab them now, before you’re forced into making one (or maybe even fifty) of those horrible old hippie zucchini breads.
Saucisson a l’ail, French garlic sausage, is wonderful with pasta, because it’s soft, not firm like most Italian dried salumi, such as soppressata, which can be a little rugged to bite down on in a bowl of pasta. D’Artagnan makes a good garlic sausage that I often find at many slightly more upscale supermarkets.
I like cutting the sausage and the zucchini into little cubes, about the size of the indentation in the orecchiette, so that they nestle in nicely and give the dish a pretty look.
Happy start of the summer to you.
Orecchiette with Baby Zucchini, Saucisson a l’Ail, and Mint
(Serves 2 as a main course)
½ pound orecchiette
Extra-virgin olive oil
5 or 6 very small summer zucchini, cut into small cubes
About 3 thick slices French garlic sausage, cut the same size as the zucchini
1 large shallot, very thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
A splash of dry vermouth
¼ cup chicken broth
About 8 large thyme sprigs, stemmed
A small handful of fresh mint leaves, lightly chopped
A chunk of pecorino Toscana cheese for grating
Set up a pot of pasta cooking water, and bring it to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt, and drop in the orecchiette.
In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium flame. When the oil is hot, add the zucchini, garlic sausage, shallot, and jalapeño, all at once. Add a little salt, and sauté until the zucchini is tender and just starting to turn golden, about 4 minutes or so. Add the vermouth, and let it boil away. Add the chicken broth, and turn off the heat.
When the orecchiette is al dente, drain it, saving a little of the cooking water, and add it to the pan. Toss well over low heat until everything is well mixed, about a minute. Add a little of the cooking water (or more broth, if you have it) if it seems dry. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl, and add the thyme and the mint and a drizzle of fresh olive oil. Toss gently. Taste for seasoning. Serve with grated pecorino Toscana.