I celebrated a milestone birthday earlier this summer. Part of my birthday celebration was inspired by this dish. 🙂
The James Beard-nominated chef and owner of Dirt Candy in NYC, Amanda Cohen, was featured on Sara Moulton’s PBS series. She prepared a cocktail along with this zucchini dish from her menu. Dirt Candy is a very unique vegetarian restaurant and I knew the only way I could get my entire family to dine there was for a birthday meal. We went for a birthday brunch celebration and then spent the day enjoying NYC.
Cohen explained that although she is not a vegetarian, she feels that a chef can be much more innovative when creating dishes without being limited by simply pairing sides with a protein. The brunch menu included a mushroom coffee cake on our visit. My son ate the whole thing! Our favorite dish was the Brussels sprout tacos, served with lettuce wraps and a platter of small bowls of topping choices. Delicious. We finished our meal with cucumber sorbet topped with a birthday candle. 🙂
The zucchini pasta recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I modified the proportions and the method. The saffron made the dish exceptional. I also made homemade Greek yogurt labneh to incorporate into the dish. The labneh recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit via epicurious.com, contributed by Tom Scherlitz.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
To Make Greek Yogurt Labneh: (Makes about 1 1/2 cups)
- 2 cups plain 2% Greek yogurt
- Line a large sieve with cheesecloth; set over a medium deep bowl.
- Place yogurt in sieve. Gather edges of cheesecloth to cover yogurt. Place in refrigerator and let drain for 2-3 days. (I let it drain for 48 hours.
- Gently squeeze out any excess liquid; discard liquid in bowl (yogurt will be very thick and resemble soft goat cheese).
For the Zucchini Pasta Dish:
- 2 to 3 medium zucchini or 4 cups baby zucchini (I used 2 1/2 medium zucchini)
- 6 T extra virgin olive oil, divided
- pinch of saffron
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 cups labneh, recipe above
- 1 to 2 pounds zucchini spiral noodles
- 8 to 12 oz angel hair pasta
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro
- 1/4 cup chiffonade basil or mint
- 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup squash blossoms sliced thinly, optional
- coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- If using medium zucchini, slice in half and then into 1/4″ half moons. If using the baby zucchini , cut into rounds.
- Toss the cut zucchini with 4 T of the olive oil.
- Grill over high heat until the zucchini has developed char marks, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, cook the angel hair pasta according to the package directions. Drain, reserving 2 cups of pasta water.
- In a pan over medium heat add the remaining 2 T of olive oil, saffron and the garlic. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 minute, turn the heat to low and add the labneh and 1 cup of the reserved pasta water.
- Stir slowly, incorporating everything together.
- Toss the sauce with the zucchini noodles, the angel hair pasta, the herbs, the lemon juice, and the lemon zest.
- Adjust seasonings and then divide between 4 bowls.
- Sprinkle each bowl with the squash blossom ribbons, if using, as well as minced herbs, as desired.