Chorizo-thon 2014 marches on.
Today's attempt at healthifying chorizo comes in the form of zucchini fettuccine. I've made zucchini noodles a few times in the past, and I've always ended up underwhelmed - overly-thin shreds of zucchini bravely but incompetently posing as pasta; daintily flavored sauces failing to mask the watery blandness of summer squash.
This recipe aims to deliver crucial flavor and texture to zucchini noodles, without adding so much junk that eating real pasta would be a better choice in the first place. Just a small amount of finely diced chorizo gives a satisfying chew, without overwhelming the delicate squash. Layer on lots of briny garlic and olives, and all of a sudden zucchini noodles are holding their own.
You can cut the zucchini into thinner linguini-like shreds, but I like that wider strips hold their shape and release less water. Zucchini noodles can quickly dissolve into a murky swamp if you try to use the seedy core or put too much liquid in the sauce. The key here is to keep the noodles wide and sauce fairly dry, so the flavors stay concentrated.
This sauce is one of the few that literally tastes better on zucchini than it will on pasta. So keep the chorizo coming, hold the carbs and feel good about dinner tomorrow.
Zucchini Fettuccine with Chorizo, Tomato and Olives
Yield: Serves 4 as a starter or small main
Prep Time: 20 min Cook Time: 20 min Total Time: 40 min
2 lbs / 1 kg zucchini
6 oz / 170 g chorizo or other spicy cured sausage, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tsp tomato paste
1 lb tomatoes, seeded and diced; or 14 oz / 400g can diced tomatoes, drained of juices
small handful of good quality black olives, chopped
small handful chopped herbs (parsley and basil both work great)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
First, make zucchini noodles. Using a wide peeler or mandoline, slice strips of "noodles" lengthwise down the zucchini until all that remains is the seedy, soft core. Discard the core.
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil, then add a large pinch of salt. Drop in zucchini, bring back to a boil, and cook for about 30 seconds. Drain zucchini and set aside.
In skillet over medium heat, cook chorizo until crispy. Remove chorizo, leaving the rendered fat, and add a bit of olive oil if the pan is still pretty dry. Saute onion and garlic with a pinch of salt til translucent, about 8 minutes. Add tomato paste, tomatoes and another pinch of salt and cook til slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add olives and cooked chorizo, taste, then season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Garnish with a handful of chopped parsley or shredded basil. Or both. (Don't use mint. I tried. Big mistake.)
Toss the zucchini gently through the sauce and serve.