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Spaghetti con zucchini, patate e ricotta

Serves 6
Preparation - Medium

This is a meager dish, one that comes out of the poor peasant culture of Apulia, down in the heel of Italy-meager but rich and delicious in combination, a reflection of how simplicity and poverty and imagination can come together to create something good. As with all simple dishes, the quality of the ingredients is what makes the difference. Use the smallest (no more than 4 inches long) and freshest zucchini you can find and waxy potatoes with good flavor. If you can't find Yellow Finns, Red Bliss potatoes will do.
At Ristorante Bacco in Barletta, near Bari, they use the local ricotta salata, a hard grating cheese, for this. An aged pecorino, if you can find it, will be good, but don't use pecorino romano, which is too strong for this dish.

salt to taste
6 quarts water
3 medium Yellow Finn potatoes, peeled, halved, and sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 lb spaghetti or spaghettini, broken into pieces about 2 inches long
6 to 8 very small zucchini, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil
lots of freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated ricotta salata, pecorino, or Parmigiano cheese, or more to taste

Have all the ingredients prepared before you start to cook, because the cooking goes very quickly once begun. Fill a serving bowl with very hot water to warm it for the pasta.
In a large pot, bring the lightly salted water to a boil.
Add the potato slices and boil for 8 minutes.
Add the spaghetti and stir with a long-handled spoon. Cover the pot and bring the water back to a boil. Set the lid ajar and continue boiling for 8 minutes.
Add the zucchini slices and boil, uncovered, for 4 minutes or until the potato slices are cooked through and the spaghetti is just tender but not soft and mushy.
Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.
Immediately turn the pasta and vegetables into the warm serving bowl and pour the reserved cooking liquid and olive oil over the pasta.
Add salt and pepper and sprinkle 2 or 3 tablespoons of grated cheese over the top. Serve immediately, passing the remaining cheese at the table

Nutritional Data, per portion

Calories  488   Carbohydrate  73g    Saturated Fat  2g 
Protein   14g   Sodium        482mg  Monounsaturated Fat l0g
Fat       16g   Cholesterol   7mg

The Mediterranean Diet Cookbook
Nancy Harmon Jenkins
Bantam Books




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