squash & nasturtium butter pasta
Alice Waters is one of my culinary heroes, but I often read her recipes and think, “There’s no way that could be any good — it’s too simple.” Then I make them anyway because I am always always wrong.
This one starts with flowers and ends with butter, and if the novelty of eating flowers doesn’t win you right over, the zippy nasturtium butter certainly should. It’s the foundation of the dish and a prime example of the simplicity that is Alice. You combine a few teaspoons of herbs, some shallots, and a handful of nasturtium blossoms with a few tablespoons of butter; let it sit for an hour or so; and that, surprisingly, is all the flavor you need. The pepperiness of the nasturtiums and the freshness of the herbs seep into the butter, creating a delightfully unexpected complexity.
Then — more predictably, at least for a girl who’s now written about zucchini in half of her existing posts — you sauté tiny rounds of baby squash in the nasturtium butter, simmer it all in a little stock, toss it with some warm pasta and more nasturtium butter, and spend the next 20 minutes exclaiming, “Ohmygod this is so good” and, “Wow, this is really good” until Mr. Frozen Pizza himself finally asks to try a bite.
In fact, were it not for the thin slices of deliciously tender baby squash and his aversion to all things containing actual vitamins and minerals, I bet I could have totally tricked Chris into having this for dinner.
Squash & Nasturtium Butter Pasta
adapted from Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Pasta Pizza & Calzone
(serves 2 with a bit left over)
2 t. fresh thyme*
2 t. fresh parsley
18-20 nasturtium blossoms
4 T. butter
1½ lb. baby squash (a combination of zucchini and yellow squash) with flowers**
½ c. vegetable (or chicken) stock
½ lb. long thin pasta, such as fettucine or linguine
salt & pepper to taste
1) Finely chop the herbs, nasturtium blossoms, and shallots. In a small bowl, use a fork to blend this mixture into the butter. Season with salt & pepper and set aside for at least an hour.
2) Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. (Alice Waters calls for homemade pasta but, um, no.)
3) Meanwhile, slice the squash into thin rounds and the blossoms into thin ribbons. **My squash was flowerless, so I skipped the ribbons.
4) Melt half the butter over medium heat in a large, shallow pan and sauté the squash for two or three minutes. Add the stock and squash blossoms and simmer while the pasta cooks.
5) Drain the pasta, then toss it with the remaining butter and the squash. Season with salt & pepper.
*The original recipe calls for 1 t. fresh savory and 1 t. fresh thyme. I don’t have savory so I just doubled up on thyme. The world continued to turn.