Linguine with Courgette and Bacon – celebrating the summer squash

I seem to be starting every post lately with an apology for my absence from the blogging world. It’s been a particularly crazy few weeks for me so many apologies go out to my lovely followers.

But I’m back and excited about the change of season going on in New Zealand. Spring is nearing its end and we have – hopefully! – a long, hot summer to look forward to.

I love the way food changes with the seasons, how each season has its own offering that gives us something special with which to celebrate that time of the year. Parsnips alone make the arrival of winter worthwhile. I can whip up a large batch of my Spiced Parsnip Soup and close the curtains on the weather.

But when it comes to spring/summer vegetables courgettes are one of my favourite picks. In fact, I’m rather partial to the entire squash family (I can polish off a whole tray of roasted butternut).

Courgettes (also known as zucchini) are plentiful at this time of year in New Zealand. I love their deep green colour, how easily and quickly they cook and how versatile this fabulous vegetable is – stir fries, salads, vegetable sides, stuffed, roasted. The list goes on.

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But I’ve used them in a slightly different way with my recipe this week. Strips of courgette sautéed with streaky bacon, a hint of garlic and chilli. Tossed through steaming linguine and finished off with a drizzle of deep green olive oil, a scattering of fresh mint (I adore courgette with mint), toasted pine nuts and parmesan. Sound good? It tastes even better.

And even though I love how flavourful the courgette becomes when tossed through streaky bacon, you could easily leave the bacon out and make this a delicious vegetarian pasta dish. Seriously, the courgette tossed with pine nuts, fresh mint and parmesan is still utterly gorgeous and you’ll enjoy every mouthful.

But I’m a sucker for bacon. Is not bacon frying one of the most incredible smells of the food world? One thing I would say is ensure you make the investment in good quality bacon. You really don’t want the cheap stuff that releases all that water. It doesn’t crisp up and fry the way good bacon should.

This is the perfect pasta dish to cook when the weather brightens up. Such a fabulous combination. Cook it and you’ll see.

 

Linguine with Courgette and Bacon

Serves 2

 

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Ingredients

  • 2 courgettes
  • 190g linguine
  • Olive oil
  • 125g good-quality streaky bacon, chopped
  • 1 fat clove garlic, finely chopped
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • 30g pine nuts, toasted
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Small bunch fresh mint, finely sliced
  • Freshly grated parmesan, to serve

 

Method

  1. First prepare the courgettes. Give them a good wash. Top and tail and then slice into thin batons that run the length of the courgette. This is how I do it – slice the courgette in half lengthways and then slice into strips, trimming off the excess flesh from each strip so you end up with batons that are all a similar size.
  2. Cook the linguine according to packet instructions. Ensure you season the water well before adding the pasta.
  3. Add a dash of olive oil to a hot pan and then add the chopped bacon. Sauté for a few minutes to crisp up the bacon and then add the garlic. Sauté briefly before adding the courgette strips and chilli flakes.
  4. Toss the courgette strips through the bacon and garlic and continue to cook until the courgette softens just enough to become pliable. Don’t overcook because the courgette will lose its vibrant colour and become mushy.
  5. Once the linguine is cooked to al dente, drain, reserving some of the cooking water.
  6. Add the linguine to the pan with the bacon and courgettes along with some of the pasta cooking water. This will help to lubricate the pasta as you toss it. Grind over a good amount of black pepper, add a generous glug of extra-virgin olive oil and toss everything together.
  7. Add the toasted pine nuts and fresh mint and toss again (leave a few of the pine nuts and mint for garnishing).
  8. Serve up in pasta bowls and scatter over the remaining pine nuts and mint. Finally, give this gorgeous bowl of pasta a generous grating of fresh Parmesan.

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There is now only one final task – eat. And enjoy.

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