Whole wheat spaghetti & zucchini pesto: a light version of a Sicily recipe
Time: prep. 15 mins
cook. approx 8 mins
Yields: 4 portions
I love regional recipes, the ones that use local, therefore sustainable and inexpensive, ingredients. Sicily is famous for many high-class food products, of course almonds are among them; moreover, since we are in the middle of summer, with the abundance of zucchini everywhere in the northern hemisphere, not falling in love with the zucchini pesto suggested by my dear virtual friend Rosa is almost impossible.
By now you know that when I dedicate space to a recipe, it’s never because it’s just delicious or “amazing”: CHE Food Revolution dishes have exceptional nutritional properties, while not impacting the planet, the ecosystem and health.
Almonds are rich in mono and polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3, vitamin E and those of group B, minerals such as calcium, magnesium and iron; in short, the demonstration that some plant-based foods can be as substantial as those of animal origin: in just one handful of almonds we have 6 g of protein, 14 g of fat, 162 calories.
Moreover they have remarkable anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as useful in reducing cholesterol and triglycerides levels; thanks to their high content of dietary fibers, they are a valid ally for people suffering from diabetes and/or for those who are on weight loss diets.
The presence of vitamin E helps both to keep skin young and to improve gut health thanks to its probiotic action.
It contains an excellent concentration of iron and calcium, very useful for those who take a reduced quantity of animal-origin foods in order to lower the risks of anemia and/or osteoporosis.
But there is another thing I love about almonds: they cost much less than pine nuts, the indispensable ingredient of pesto alla genovese (the classic basil pesto), undeniably delicious, but not always affordable for all budgets!
A warning is therefore a must: given the cheapness compared to pine nuts, we can afford local and/or organic almonds; after all, for our recipe we need just half an ounce for 4 people.
California almonds, which have invaded the world market, are a threat to biodiversity, due to the massive industrialization of production practices: huge doses of Roundup (the trade name of the controversial herbicide glyphosate) or other pesticides used to protect the investment, cause the death of millions of bees (find out more from here).
If the price is still unaffordable for you, do as I do and opt for a mix of organic almonds and walnuts: that I love both for its high omega-3 content and its proletarian price.
Shopping attention should also be paid to the protagonists of the recipe that give the name to our pesto: zucchini. Especially in the summer season they are really cheap, so you can afford to buy even organic ones or from the farmer’s market. Imported zucchini are not only a threat to the local farmer, but also to biodiversity and ethics: most people know that soy can be GMO, but many are unaware that even the good old zucchini is on the same list of vegetables most likely to be GMO: along with soy, corn, sugar beets, yellow elongated squash, canola, cotton and Hawaiian papaya.
Precisely because they are summer vegetables, with their exceptional content of minerals and antioxidants, they are able to restore what has been lost through sweating.
Moreover, being rich in tryptophan, useful for the transmission of nerve impulses and in protein synthesis, they are indispensable for the supporters of diets with reduced amount of animal origin foods.
With a little awareness, it’s easy to eliminate risks and threats from our shopping list: to learn more visit Food Awareness
Ingredients for spaghetti with zucchini pesto
300 g whole wheat spaghetti
for zucchini pesto
3 medium-sized zucchini, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese (or Sicilian pecorino)
15 basil leaves
50 grams of almonds (or a mixture of almonds and walnuts and/or pistachios and/or pine nuts)
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons of evo oil
salt to taste
1 zucchini cut into cubes and sauteed in a pan
4 cherry tomatoes cut into cubes
4 basil leaves
a drizzle of raw oil
This is a very quick recipe, therefore ideal for people who come home late from work, but thanks to its smooth and satisfying taste, if you decide to reserve it for guests, be prepared to receive as compliments a series of “mmmh, uuuuh, ooooh, etc.”: it’s guaranteed!
First, blanch the zucchini in boiling water for 4-5 minutes, then scoop out the zucchini with a skimmer and place them on a plate to cool: do not throw away the cooking water of the zucchini, which will be used to cook the spaghetti.
In the meantime, wash the basil leaves and dry them from excess water; grate the parmesan cheese (or the cheese of your choice) and cut the zucchini into small cubes that will serve to enrich the dish with its crunchy texture (I should thank here Rosaria, virtual friend but real supporter of the CHE Food Revolution movement, for this excellent suggestion).
Using a food processor, turn the listed ingredients into zucchini pesto: set aside the zucchini cubes that we will use to garnish the dish before serving.
Mix the pasta with the pesto and, if you want more creaminess, use a little of the cooking water.
Garnish the plate with the diced fresh tomatoes and crispy zucchini, along with a little more pesto and a few basil leaves: and now get ready for your “yum”!
Enjoy your zucchini pesto and good revolution to all