I have never once woken up on a cold January day and longed for pesto or summer squash. It doesn’t even occur to my taste buds in the winter. But like clockwork around this time each summer — usually when it’s only the first week of July but already hot enough that I cannot even remember why I live in NYC, where it currently as stagnant and steamy as a bathroom after a shower with none of the hygienic aromatics, seriously, why do I, I digress — it is all I want to eat.
One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to give things that are not pasta the pasta treatment. I love and adore pasta. I don’t want to live a life without it. I just think a lot of the things that taste good on pasta taste good elsewhere — see the viral one-pot pasta reimagined on farro, or giant white beans given the baked ziti treatment. Here, something similar happens with smaller white beans. Rolling them around in a pesto vinaigrette and letting ribbons of grilled lemony zucchini wind around them then finishing the whole thing with a blanket of grated parmesan is my current summer fixation. I made it a couple weeks ago because I was craving it. I hadn’t expected anyone else to be into it, but everyone was so enthusiastic, I’ve made it weekly since. I hope you find it equally habit-forming.
One year ago: Grilled Pizza
Two years ago: Funnel Cake
Three years ago: Oven Ribs, Even Better
Four years ago: Blue and Red Berry Ricotta Galette
Five years ago: Peach and Pecan Sandy Crumble
Six years ago: Chopped Salad with Feta, Lime and Mint and Flag Cake
Seven years ago: Skirt Steak with Bloody Mary Tomato Salad
Eight years ago: Bread and Butter Pickles, Blue Cheese and Red Potato Tart, and Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Nine years ago: Strawberries and Dumplings and Horseradish Potato Salad
Ten years ago: Zucchini Strand Spaghetti
Eleven years ago: Dilled Potato and Pickled Cucumber Salad and Strawberry Chiffon Shortcake
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread
1.5 Years Ago: Chicken Wonton Soup
2.5 Years Ago: The Browniest Cookies and Gingerbread Layer Cake
3.5 Years Ago: Deep Dark Gingerbread Waffles and Fairytale of New York
4.5 Years Ago: Gingerbread Snacking Cake and Rum Campari Punch
Grilled Zucchini Ribbons with Pesto and White Beans
- 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds zucchini, thinner longer ones are ideal here
- Olive oil
- Coarse or kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon
- 1 3/4 cups (from 1 15-ounce can) small-to-medium-sized white beans, drained (I used – Goya’s Great Northern beans)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled
- A 2-ounce bundle of basil (this is the small clamshell size at most groceries)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- Coarsely grated parmesan, to taste
On a grill (I use the full heat, but have a dinky, small grill; you might find a more moderate heat better here) or a grill pan, grill zucchini in a single layer until grill marks appear underneath, then flip over and repeat the same on the other side. Transfer zucchini back to platter and squeeze lemon juice over it.
Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, combine basil and garlic with a few good pinches of salt and a few grinds of black pepper until chopped. Drizzle in olive oil until it blends smoothly; you’ll want about 4, sometimes 5, tablespoons. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar and blend until well-mixed; taste and add more vinegar, up to 1 more tablespoon, to taste. Season to taste.
Combine beans with about 2/3 of the dressing in a small bowl. In a larger bowl or serving platter, pour half of dressed beans in the bottom. Arrange grilled zucchini on top, twisting and turning it so that it looks extra ribbony. Spoon remaining beans in the spaces. Drizzle the remaining dressing over the platter, to taste.
Finish with a light blanket of parmesan and eat whenever you’re ready. As assembled, it keeps well at room temperature for an hour, giving you time to do everything else.