Zucchini is the star of this dish

Chifferi with Zucchini and Bacon is a way to utilize the fresh zucchini, or you can freeze it for later use. / Chandler Holland, Times-News correspondent

Commentary by Chandler Holland
Times-News correspondent

   What to do with all that zucchini?
Have you ever heard the joke, “When do folks in the country lock their car doors? During harvest time, for fear that someone might slip a bag (or two) into their back seat!” Well, it’s now harvest time and the green veggies are not disappointing us this year.
Squash, the ancestor of modern-day zucchini, originated in Mesoamerica in the area between Mexico and Guatemala. They then gradually spread throughout the Americas. These predecessors were brought to Europe by New World explorers, and developed in Italy into what we know today as zucchini.
One of zucchini’s best assets is that it can be easily frozen for later use. It’s always a good idea to make more then you need, for that cold winter day when you’re craving something green.

Chifferi with Zucchini and Bacon

 1 pound dried elbow pasta
6 cups zucchini, chopped into ½-inch pieces
3 cups packed spinach, shredded
3 cups packed basil, shredded
½ cup fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
½ cup pine nuts, ground|
4½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 or more garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper, crushed
Salt and pepper, to taste
1½ cups Parmesan, shredded
1½ pounds bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled

   Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In medium mixing bowl, toss sliced zucchini with just enough oil to thoroughly coat it. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and cover with coated zucchini in a single layer. Toast in the oven for 20 minutes.
In a food processor, combine the spinach, basil, parsley, pine nuts, remaining oil, vinegar, garlic and red pepper. Pulse until the ingredients are well-combined and form a paste. Adjust to taste with salt and pepper, then remove from food processor and set aside.
Fill a large stockpot with enough water to boil the pasta (8 to 10 cups). Add a pinch of salt and place the stockpot on medium heat. Cook pasta in boiling water to al dente (“of the tooth”; firm to the bite). Strain the cooked pasta, and return it to the stockpot. Combine cooked pasta, sauce and roasted zucchini. The Parmesan and crumbled bacon may be mixed in, along with the sauce and zucchini, or added as a garnish. Makes 12 servings.
   Cook’s notes: It is recommended that this dish is served warm, however it also makes a delicious cold pasta salad. If you want to serve a fully homemade meal, use the pasta recipe published last month in place of the chifferi. The story can be found online at teensandtwenties.com/pasta-perfecto-make-your-own-pasta-from-scratch.
Source: Adapted from the kitchen of C’est si Bon! Cooking School.

Chandler Holland is a rising home-schooled junior and a Teens & Twenties writer. She is an intern at C’est si Bon! Cooking School, and co-teaches the Kitchen Capers kid’s cooking classes at Alamance Arts.


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