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Pasta and Zucchini with Queso Fresco

As we leave more processed food behind I find grocery shopping is becoming less pleasurable. And rightly so, harder. As well I find myself shopping nearly daily for fresh items like vegetables. That part is OK, it gets me out of the house (by maybe 10:30 am, dragging two short fries behind me) but what has become time-consuming is reading labels and researching ingredients I am unsure of. Or trying to find acceptable substitutions. Which brings me to this recipe. It called for Ricotta Salata cheese, which is hard enough to find locally. Our grocery store had only one and it contained cellulose. I refuse to buy cheese with wood pulp! Feta is an alternative. 5 brands later I was very frustrated. Whether crumbled or in block form, they contained cellulose or Natamycin. My trusty Nokia Lumnia 800 came out once again as I looked for what to use. I found mention of Queso Fresco, which I can find without additives! Thank you smart phone! A slightly salty and crumble cheese, happily sourced. Maybe not what was called for, but close enough.

I adapted the recipe from the current issue of Coastal Living Magazine, on page 101. It gave a choice of nuts: pine, sunflower or pistachios, K I used dry roasted pistachios. Kirk’s feedback was I should have used the Thai Cashews I get him at Trader Joe’s, finely chopped up. That would have been good, the Thai spices would have married nicely with the crisp mint flavor.

Pasta and Zucchini with Queso Fresco

Ingredients:

  • 13.25 ounce package multi-grain or whole wheat linguine
  • 3 medium zucchini, 1 to 1½ lbs
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp fresh mint leaves
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces crumbled ricotta salata, feta or queso fresco cheese
  • ½ cup pistachios, sunflower seeds or pine nuts, chopped (preferably dry roasted)

Directions:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for time on package. Meanwhile wash and peel the zucchini, trimming the ends. Using a peeler, make long peels of the flesh, leaving zucchini ribbons. Add to the pasta pot in the last-minute of cooking time.

Add the lemon juice through black pepper to a mini food chopper, process until mint is finely chopped.

Drain the pasta, toss with the sauce in a large bowl, toss with the cheese and nuts.

Serves 4.

~Sarah

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