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Photo by: Joseph De Leo
If there seems to be a rather small amount of pasta specified for four people here, it’s not because I’m exercising portion control, but because egg pappardelle swell voluptuously when cooked and a modest tangle of these dried yellow, wide-cut ribbons will plump up to take, appetite-satisfyingly, the whole panful of slow-cooked, sweet and mushy zucchini sauce.
Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-based saucepan, and cut the zucchini into very fine rounds before adding them to the pan. Mince in the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook over a low to medium heat for about 45 minutes, stirring every now and again. When they are ready the zucchini will have sweated down—if you’ll forgive the expression—but still retain some color and shape. In other words, you’re looking for a certain mushiness without going so far as out-and-out pulp. Not that it matters: if you forget these are on the stove and let them cook until they reach the state of pure, undifferentiated sauce, you will still have something pretty heavenly on your hands. Besides, in Sicily, you will find that different cooks have different preferences: as ever, there is no one way to cook the same thing.
While all this is going on, warm the Marsala, pour it over the sultanas and leave them to plump up for about 15 minutes, or longer if you want. Once the zucchini are cooked, stir the sultanas and their amber juices into them. Taste for seasoning. Toast the pine nuts by cooking them in a dry frying pan until they turn a golden brown, and remove to a cold plate.
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, then drain and tip into a warmed bowl. Add the zucchini mixture and fold and toss to combine. Sprinkle over the pine nuts, Parmesan and most of the chopped parsley and toss everything gently together again. Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and take to the table.
Nutrients per serving (% daily value)
This recipe serves 6, and includes 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving.