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TIP OF THE DAY: Potato Latkes, Root Vegetable Latkes

The Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah, begins tonight, and we’re having latkes.

Potato latkes are a Chanukah tradition*, but they are enjoyed year-round.
 
 
THE HISTORY OF LATKES

The popular potato latkes of European Jewish cuisine descend from Sicilian ricotta pancakes that appeared in the Middle Ages. They traveled north to Rome, where the Jewry called them cassola.

Here’s a recipe for ricotta latkes. Traditionally sweetened, you can make a savory version with herbs instead of sugar.

Potato latkes (meaning “fried cakes,” i.e. pancakes, in Yiddish) are an Ashkenazi invention that gained popularity in Eastern Europe during the mid 1800s. The Hebrew word, leviva, is found in the Book of Samuel.

While the ricotta pancakes, a cousin to cheese blintzes are delicious, our bet is that more people would rather have fried potatoes!

Here’s a longer history of latkes.
 
 
MODERN LATKES

For centuries, potato latkes were the rule. Toward the end of the 20th century, cooks went so far as to make sweet potato latkes.

Then, anything was possible: latkes from beets, carrots, celery root, parsnips…. If it’s a root vegetable, it can be turned into latke. You can also use non-root vegetables, like summer and winter squash.

Food trivia: Potatoes themselves are not root vegetables, but stem vegetables. They grow on underground stems, called stolons.

Potato tubers are actually thickened stems: They have buds that sprout stems and leaves; roots don’t. Here’s more about it.
 
 
HOW TO ENJOY LATKES

  • You can use sweet potatoes or purple potatoes—anything you can grate.
  • You can turn latkes into a main course with the addition of a protein: from sliced steak to fried chicken (the Jewish chicken and waffles) to pickled herring or smoked fish.
  • You can serve it as a salad course, atop a plate of mesclun.
  • You can provide three or four different toppings.
  • You can serve mini-latkes with a beer or glass of wine.
  • Latkes don’t have to be round or oval. If you have pancake or egg molds, make whatever shape you have: diamonds, flowers, hearts, stars, etc.

    Don’t use anything with detail (Mickey Mouse ears, animals, etc.), since the latke batter is chunky, not smooth like pancakes or an egg.

  • Most importantly, you can make latkes any day of the year. Think of them as you would hashed browns.
  •  
     
    LATKE GARNISHES

    You can serve more than one topping or garnish. Our mom always served sour cream and her homemade applesauce, as did her mom. (For Rosh Hashanah, the latkes accompanied roast chicken; for Chanukah, a brisket.)

    We improved on her toppings, by adding a hit of nutmeg to the applesauce and minced chives, and separately, horseradish, to the sour cream.

    While applesauce and sour cream are perfect latke partner, this is a new century. Try fusion seasonings, go crazy (within reason) with toppings like cardamom applesauce, curried Greek yogurt or 3-herb sour cream.

    Some ideas:

       

    Potato Latkes
    [1] Classic potato latkes with sour cream, enhanced with dill. Here’s the recipe from Najwa Kronfel of Delicious Shots.

    Potato Latkes
    [2] Latkes, modernized with Dijon mustard (photo courtesy Maille).

    Potato Latkes

    [3] Latkes made with scallions instead of conventional yellow onions (photo courtesy Shaya | New Orleans).

  • Dairy: crème fraîche, herbed goat cheese or ricotta, Greek yogurt, sour cream with chives, dill or scallions
  • Fish and seafood: caviar/roe, herring in cream sauce, salmon pastrami, smoked salmon, smoked sturgeon, smoked whitefish
  • Fruit sauce: chutney, cranberry sauce, flavored applesauce
  • Gourmet: smoked salmon and salmon caviar (or other roe) with crème fraîche or dilled sour cream
  • Poached egg: for a main or first course
  • Salsa: corn, corn and bean, peach or mango, pesto, roasted tomato)
  • More: Dijon mustard, kimchi, pickled beets, pickled onions and other pickled vegetables, pomegranate arils
  •  
    Plus

  • Chopped fresh herbs: basil, cilantro, dill, thyme
  • Slaw: Asian slaw (no mayo), purple cabbage cole slaw, root vegetable slaw.
  • Vegetables: grilled or roasted, ratatouille or other vegetable medley
  •  
    Our personal favorite latke garnish is gourmet-traditional: creme fraiche with dill, smoked salmon and caviar.

    We would gladly accept a latke trio: three different preparations, as in photo #6.

    ________________

    *Latkes are traditionally eaten by Ashkenazi Jews during the Chanukah. The oil in which the latkes are fried is another tribute to the miracle of Chanukah. The history, in brief: In ancient Judea, the Syrian king Antiochus ordered the Jewish people to abandon their religion and worship the Greek gods. Judah, leader of the band that called themselves the Maccabees (Hebrew for hammer), drove the Syrians from Israel and reclaimed the Second Temple in Jerusalem, removing the Greek statues. They finished their work on the 25th day of the month of Kislev, and wanted to light the eternal light (N’er Tamid), present in every Jewish house of worship, to rededicate the temple. Once lit, the light should never be extinguished. But there was only a tiny jug of lamp oil—enough for a single day. A miracle occurred: the light burned for eight days. This is the origin of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights, which is celebrated for eight days. The word Chanukah means “rededication.”

     

    Carrot Latkes
    [4] Carrot and scallion latkes (photo courtesy Elana’s Pantry).

    Celery Root Parsnip Latkes
    [5] Celery root and parsnip latkes. You can make beet latkes or potato latkes, too.

    Gourmet Latkes

    [6] Gourmet latke trio: lobster and white truffles, caviar and crème fraîche, smoked salmon and crème fraîche, all with a quail egg garnish (photo courtesy Duet Brasserie).

     

    RECIPE: GRANDMA BERTHA’S LATKES

    This recipe for quick, light and crisp latkes is from Andrea Watman, Creative Director at New York City’s legendary Zabar’s. The recipe is Andrea’s grandmother’s

    This simple adaptation uses a food processor instead of hand grating, and potatoes that are not peeled. It should only take minutes to prepare.

    The latke recipes of Grandma Bertha’s time required labor-intensive peeling of the potatoes, then grating them on a four-sided metal grater—which invariably ended up scraping one’s knuckles as well.

    The hand grating took so long that the potatoes would start to discolor. Only the enjoyment of the delicious finished latkes made one forget the travail of making them.

    Andrea improved upon the recipe by tossing the potatoes, peel and all, into the food processor. She also uses a coffee scoop to measure the batter. She finds that it makes latkes that are “just the right size.”

    If you don’t have a coffee scoop, you can use a 1/4 cup measure, which makes larger latkes.

    Latkes freeze really well and can be reheated in the microwave; but they are best when eaten right after cooking.

    Ingredients For About 30 Latkes

  • 4 Idaho potatoes, washed but not peeled
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1-2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • ½ tablespoon fresh-ground pepper
  • Oil for frying (Andrea uses half olive oil, half corn oil)
  • Garnishes of choice
  •  
    Preparation

    1. CUT the potatoes and onion into quarters. Place in the bowl of food processor, using the “S” blade or knife blade. Grind until finely ground; pulse if necessary.

    2. ADD the eggs, salt and pepper. Grind until mixed. Remove bowl from food processor and stir in the flour. The mixture should be the consistency of thick oatmeal.

    3. HEAT 1″ of oil in a deep frying pan. Be patient and wait until it heats fully or the latkes won’t get golden brown. (Andrea uses an electric frying pan set at high heat because she finds it provides a more consistent heat than the stovetop.)

    4. SCOOP the batter into the frying pan using a coffee scoop. You should be able to fry 6-8 latkes at a time. The latkes will begin to bubble, just like regular batter pancakes.

    5. TURN them when brown. Try not to turn them more them once. The less you turn them the crisper they will be. Remove all the pancakes that have been cooking before adding new batter. In this way, way you can control the temperature of the oil and keep track of cooking time.

    6. PLACE the cooked latkes on paper towels to drain.

     
    MORE LATKE RECIPES

  • Butternut Squash Latkes With Harissa & Tahini Crème Fraîche
  • Potato, Onion & Cauliflower Latkes
  • Vegetable Latkes: carrots, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, white onion
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    FOOD FUN: DIY Filled Donut Holes

    Filled Donuts
    [1] David Burke’s Warm Drunken Donuts.

    Chef David Burke Warm Drunken Donuts
    [2] A showman as well as a chef, David Burke often has special serveware made for his creations. Donut carousel, anyone? (photos #1 and #2 courtesy Chef David Burke).

    Beignets

    [3] Banana beignets add another popular flavor to donut holes. Here’s the recipe from Food Network.

     

    Chef David Burke, master of invention, has intrigued us yet again with Warm Drunken Donuts: fresh-fried donut holes with three “drunken” fillings: bourbon caramel, chocolate kahlua and raspberry limoncello.

    David Burke serves the donuts with three small squeeze bottles of the fillings, and you get to inject your own filling. It’s fun.

    Although we haven’t gotten to one of his restaurants to try them, we cobbled together our own version using store-bought donut holes (not as good as homemade, but they let us try the concept).

    The recommended wine pairing is a sparkling rosé.

    The drunken donuts are powdered sugar munchkins with several plastic needle pointed syrups that you squeeze into the donuts holes.
     
     
    RECIPE: OUR ROUGH APPROXIMATION OF DAVID BURKE’S WARM DRUNKEN DONUTS)

    Prep time is 15 minutes plus 5 minutes frying.

    Ingredients For 2-3 Dozen (depending on size)

  • 4 cups canola or grapeseed oil (high smoke point oil)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar
  •  
    Plus fillings: see note below.
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder together, sift together and set aside as you whisk together the egg, milk and vanilla extract in a small bowl.

    2. ADD the oil to a deep, heavy saucepan and heat it to 350°F over medium heat. Watch the thermometer closely: If the oil goes above 350°, your donuts may get too crunchy.

    3. ADD the egg mixture into the flour mixture a bit at a time, and whisk until the dough is well combined. Add the melted butter and thoroughly combine.

    4. DROP small balls of dough into the hot oil, using a small cookie scoop (plan B: roll them in your hands). Fry in small batches: You don’t want to crowd the pan, because the dough balls need to float without making contact with each other. When they start to turning brown on the underside, flip them over with a fork. Continue to cook until both sides are golden brown.

    5. REMOVE the donut holes with a slotted spoon, onto a baking sheet or platter lined with paper towels. Allow them to cool and then roll them in the optional sugar. We used a bit of cinnamon sugar on half of them (we’re not keen on powdered sugar garnishes: they’re too messy).

    Serve warm.

     
    FOR THE FILLINGS

    Taste and add more as alcohol as desired. You should go for a subtle layer of flavor, not a knockout.

  • For the Bourbon Caramel filling: We had so much delicious caramel sauce from The King’s Cupboard that we simply warmed it, added bourbon to taste, and then added cream to thin it for pourability.
  • For the Chocolate Cream filling: make this recipe and add a teaspoon of Kahlua or other coffee liqueur.
  • For the Raspberry Limoncello filling: We took the easy way out and combined quality raspberry jam with Limoncello and a bit of lemon zest. You can substitute Grand Marnier for the Limoncello.
  •  
     
    WHO INVENTED DONUT HOLES?

    First, we thank the Dutch for olykoeks, meaning oil cake, batter fried in oil.

    While dough was fried the world over, we can thank the Dutch for the sweet balls fried in hog fat that became modern doughnuts.

    An old word for ball was nut; a doughnut is literally a nut (ball) of dough. The term “doughnut” was first used in print in 1809 by American author Washington Irving in his satirical “Knickerbocker’s History Of New York.” Irving wrote of:

    “…balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks.”

    Because the center of the cake did not cook as quickly as the outside, the softer centers were sometimes stuffed with fruit, nuts, or other fillings that did not require cooking (think of the chopped onions in the center of a bialy).

    What about the hole?

    Per Smithsonian, a New England ship captain’s mother made a notably delicious, deep-fried doughut that used her son’s spice cargo of nutmeg and cinnamon, along with lemon rind. She filled the center with hazelnuts or walnuts.

    As the story goes, in 1847, 16-year-old sailor Hanson Crockett Gregory created the hole in the center of the doughnut. He used the top of a round tin pepper container to punch the holes, so the dough would cook evenly.

    He recounted the story in an interview with the Boston Post at the turn of the century, 50 years later.

    He effectively eliminated the need to fill the less-cooked center, and provided an inner cut-out that enabled the dough to be evenly cooked.

    This was a breakthrough not just for donut holes, but for the donut in general. Previously, it had been cooked as a solid piece (no hole), so the sides were always crisper than the center. In fact, toppings were often put on the soggy center to cover up the flaw.

    After the creation of the doughnut hole, donut makers also fried the dough “holes.”

    It took more than a century and a mass marketer to popularize donut holes in America.

    While the forerunner of Dunkin’ Donuts began in 1948 (here’s the history of Dunkin’ Donuts), Munchkins “donut hole treats” were not introduced until 1972. Tim Hortons followed with Timbits in 1976.
     
     
    WHO CHANGED THE SPELLING FROM DOUGHNUT TO DONUT?

    The first known printed record of the shortened word “donut” appears (likely an inadvertent misspelling) in “Peck’s Bad Boy And His Pa,” a story by George W. Peck published in 1900.

    The spelling did not immediately catch on. That impetus goes to Dunkin’ Donuts.

    Donut is a easier to write, but we prefer the old-fashioned elegance of doughnut. Take your choice.

    Doughnuts didn’t become a mainstream American food until after World War I. American doughboys at the front were served doughnuts by Salvation Army volunteers. When the doughboys returned, they brought their taste for doughnuts with them [source].

    The name doughboy wasn’t related to the doughnuts, by the way. It dates to the Civil War, when the cavalry unchivalrously derided foot soldiers as doughboys. Two theories are offered:

  • Their globular brass buttons resembled flour dumplings.
  • They used flour to polish their white belts.
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    RECIPE: Chopped Fennel & Apple Salad

    This crunchy chopped salad is a smooth transition from summer to heartier winter salads.

    It’s based on what we think is an under-used vegetable, fennel, which is in season from early fall to early spring.

    Crisp fennel and crisp apple combine with crunchy pomegranate arils, which add a festive touch.

    (Don’t like arils? Try this fennel and arugula salad with apple and orange.

    We’re also fond of these fennel pickles.)

    This recipe comes to us from Beth Warren Nutrition. Beth is the author of two books, Living a Real Life with Real Food (2014) and Kosher Girl, due in spring 2018. Her focus is health-conscious kosher meals; but you don’t have to be kosher to enjoy every bite.

    Beth likes this recipe for Rosh Hashanah. It goes splendidly with yesterday’s recipe for Buttermilk Roast Chicken.

    Also take a look at this Orange Fennel Salad recipe, this Shaved Salad With Pear & Fennel, and these Fennel Pickles.
     
     
    RECIPE: FALL FENNEL SALAD

    Ingredients For 4-6 Servings

  • 2 bulbs fennel, chopped
  • ½ thinly sliced green apple
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients in glass mixing bowl. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
     
     
    FENNEL FACTS

    Fennel looks like the offspring of a peeled white onion and a bunch of dill. It’s crunchy like celery, with a slight anise taste.

     

    Fennel Apple Salad
    [1] A fall chopped salad: fennel salad, with apples and pomegranate arils (photo courtesy Beth Warren Nutrition).

    Fennel Bulb

    [2] A bulb of fennel. All parts can (and should!) be eaten (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     
    You can use every part of it.

  • If you only want to use the bulb, turn the stalks into pickled fennel, a.k.a. fennel pickles.
  • The fronds make a lovely food or plate garnish for any savory food, and can be dried and used as herbs.
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    The History Of Fennel

    Fennel is highly aromatic and flavorful, with a long history of both culinary and medicinal uses. The bulb and stalks resemble celery, the leaves look like dill (Anethum graveolens, also of the same order and family), and the aroma and flavor resemble sweet licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabraa, a totally different order [Fabales] and family [Fabaceae]).

    A member of the parsley family* (Apiaceae), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) and celery (Petroselinum crispum) are botanical cousins, members of the same order* (Apiales) and family* (Apiaceae). Both are believed to be indigenous to the shores of the Mediterranean, growing wild before they were cultivated thousands of years ago.

    Records of fennel’s use date back to about 1500 B.C.E, although its use far precedes the records.

    Fennel was likely first cultivated in Greece, and was used for both medicinal† and culinary purposes. The ancient Greeks and Romans ate the entire plant: the bulb, the the seeds, blossoms and the fronds.

    Theirs was a more bitter variety. Florence fennel, also called sweet anise and finocchio in Italian, the variety eaten as a vegetable, wasn’t developed until the 17th century, in the area of Florence, Italy [source].

    Although many recipes make reference to fennel “root,” it is actually the stalk, swollen into a bulb-like shape at the plant’s base, which is consumed (the same is true with kohlrabi).

    Uses For Fennel

    Fennel can be substituted for celery in recipes when an additional nuance of flavor is desired. We also enjoy it as part of a crudités plate.

    Fennel seeds are a popular spice, for baking, bean dishes, brines, fish, pork, sausages and much more. We especially like them in cole slaw and cucumber salad.

    Plain and sugar-coated fennel seeds are used as a spice and an after-meal mint in India and Pakistan. If you don’t see a dish of them as you leave, ask for them at restaurants.
    ___________________________________________
     
    *We love this family, which also includes angelica, anise, asafoetida, caraway, carrot, celery, chervil, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, lovage, cow parsley, parsley, parsnip and lesser known edible plants (sea holly, giant hogweed). It also includes the poisonous hemlock.

    In case you don’t remember plant taxonomy from high school biology, here’s a refresher.

    †Pliny The Elder mentions fennel as a treatment for stomachache, the “stings of serpents,” uterus health and other maladies. Those ancient homeopaths got it right: According to Web MD, modern uses include various digestive problems, such as heartburn, intestinal gas, bloating, loss of appetite and colic in infants. It is also used for upper respiratory tract infections, coughs, bronchitis, cholera, backache, bedwetting, and visual problems. Some women use fennel for increasing the flow of breast milk, promoting menstruation, easing the birthing process, and increasing sex drive. And yes, fennel powder is used as a poultice for snakebites.

      

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    FOOD 101: Why Onions Make You Cry…And How To Stop It

    Sliced Onion

    Cutting an onion releases the “tear” chemicals (photo Flagstaff Fotos).

     

    An onion is a thing of beauty—until you slice into it and the fumes assault your eyes. But that doesn’t need to be. Here are some tips to minimize the impact of the acrid gas that’s released when you slice into an onion.

    WHY DO ONION VAPORS BURN YOUR EYES?

    Simply peeling an onion does not make your eyes water.

    But once you chop, cut, crush or smash the onion, the onion’s cells break open, creating a chemical reaction. Enzymes called alliinases break down the amino acids (sulfoxides)in the onion and generate sulfenic acids.

    These further react to produce a volatile gas known as the onion lachrymatory factor, or LF. LF diffuses through the air and activates sensory neurons in eye, causing that burning, stinging sensation.

    It’s not dissimilar to the effects of tear gas. Tear glands come to the defense, producing tears to dilute and flush out the irritant. If you slice onions a lot, your eyes will become more tolerant (they may build up a tolerance to the LF).

     
    The amount of LF differs among onion varieties. That’s why some onions are real “burners” and others are milder. Sweet onions, for example, grow in soils that are low in sulphur and don’t produce much alliinase.

    NO-STING & LESS-STING SOLUTIONS

    Our personal technique: For no sting whatsoever, wear swimming goggles (or any goggles). It works like a charm.

    No goggles? These will help:

  • Slice the onion vertically, through the root end. The onion base has a higher concentration of sulphur compounds than the rest of the bulb. Even better, avoid the root altogether. Use only the top 80% of the onion.
  • Slice under running water. Place your cutting board in the sink and cut the onions under running water. The water whisks the fumes away. Submerge the onions in a basin of water, if you have a basin large enough!
  • Refrigerate the onions before cutting. This reduces the enzyme reaction rate.
  • Turn on a fan. Position it to blow the gas away from your eyes.
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    TIP OF THE DAY: Mix Spaghetti With Zucchini Noodles

    Zoodles - Zucchini Noodles & Pasta
    [1] Cacio e pepe, “cut” with zucchini noodles (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Zucchini Noodles
    [2] Zucchini noodles, spiralized and ready to cook (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

    Cacio e Pepe

    [3] A classic dish of Cacio e Pepe. Here’s a recipe from Philo’s Kitchen.

     

    Two years ago, when zucchini noodles became the rage, many of us ran out to buy spiralizers—simple gadgets that turned a zucchini into ribbons of vegetable “pasta.”

    You can now buy spiralized zucchini in bags.

    A big bowl of pasta with bolognese sauce and scads of grated cheese can be lightened, both texturally and calorically, is an attractive substitute.

    We’ve previously written about Cacio e Peppe (KAH-chee-oh ay PEP-pay, cheese and pepper), an ancient pasta dish (in fact, one of the most ancient dishes in Italian cuisine).

    The classic recipe is a quick one Grated cheese—cacio in Roman dialect, referring to a sheep’s milk cheese like pecorino romano—becomes a creamy, cheesy sauce when mixed with a a few spoons of the hot water used to cook the pasta.

    The result: creamy sauce, obtained combining best quality Pecorino Romano and a few spoons of the water used to cook the spaghetti. The starch that leaches from the spaghetti into the cooking water combines with the grated cheese in just the right way.

    But Good Eggs has taken it one step further in the name of lowering the carbs: They mixed conventional wheat pasta noodles with zucchini noodles.
     
     
    THE HISTORY OF CACIO & PEPE

    Casio e Pepe, a Roman dish, was easy comfort food. The ingredients were very portable and did not spoil. Roman shepherds and travelers needed only water and a fire to create a stick-to-your-ribs meal.

    The classic recipe has no butter or cream, ingredients which are used to make creamy Alfredo sauce. There’s just pasta, salted water to cook it, cheese and ground black pepper. Some modern recipes use a bit of olive oil to bind the ingredients.

    All the ingredients are ancient foods:

  • Pasta has been found dating to about 2000 B.C.E.—a plate of rice noodles in northwest China. After trade brought the concept west, the Arabs, Estruscans, Greeks and Romans used their local grain—wheat—to make noodles similar to the pasta we eat today. The Romans kneaded flour into dough, which was cut into strips called laganum—similar to what we now call lasagna noodles.
  • Sheep’s cheese similar to pecorino romano has been made since at least since the time of the ancient Greeks (some sources date it to 3000 B.C.E.). Pecorino is the word for any sheep’s milk cheese; pecorino romano is an aged grating cheese.
  • Peppercorns, the fruits of a flowering vine, grew wild for millennia in India before being cultivated. About 2,500 years ago, pepper was traded to Greece, and then to the Roman Empire. Rare and precious, it was often used as currency. Peppercorns have been found in archaeological sites, and with the mummy of King Ramses III of Egypt (d. 1212 B.C.E.). To stop Alarico, the king of Visgoths, from sacking Rome in 408 B.C.E., he was given a ransom comprising 5,000 pounds of gold, a parcel of land and 3,000 pounds of peppercorns.
  • Salt, inexpensive and ubiquitous today, was so precious that throughout history, wars were fought over it. In addition to its value enhancing the flavor of food and drying food for lean times, salt is critical to man’s survival*. Salt comes from two main sources: evaporated sea water and the sodium chloride mineral deposits known as halite (rock salt), themselves the evaporated residue of dried-up underground lakes and seas.
  •  
    Ready to combine the ingredients into a hot dish of pasta…with some zucchini?
     
    RECIPE: CACIO & PEPE WITH PASTA & ZUCCHINI NOODLES

    Ingredients For 2 Main Course Servings

  • 8 ounces spiralized zucchini
  • Olive oil to sauté
  • 12 ounces fresh spaghetti (substitute† dried pasta, substitute any thin, flat or round noodle)
  • 6 ounces pecorino cheese, shredded (substitute any Italian grating cheese)
  • Black pepper, freshly ground (substitute red chile flakes)
  • Garnish: chopped flat leaf parsley to taste
  • Optional garnish: toasted bread crumbs (substitute croutons)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING a large pot of salted water to a boil. While it heats, place the zucchini in a sauce pan over medium heat and sauté for about 2 minutes, until al dente. Turn the heat off and cover the zucchini to keep it warm.

    2. COOK the spaghetti according to package directions; then drain it, holding back a few tablespoonsful of pasta water. Add the pasta and half the pasta water to zucchini pan, and toss together.

    3. REMOVE from the heat and toss with the cheese and pepper to taste (Italians go heavy on the pepper). The heat of the pasta and the pasta water should help melt the cheese into a smooth, creamy sauce. Add more hot pasta water as needed to achieve the consistency you desire. If the water has become tepid, microwave it for 30 seconds.

    4. GARNISH with parsley and serve. It isn’t part of the official recipe, but we like the crunch of toasted bread crumbs or croutons as a garnish.

    ________________

    *Humans can’t live without some sodium. It’s needed to transmit nerve impulses, contract and relax muscle fibers (including the heart muscle and blood vessels), and maintain a proper fluid balance. Here’s more about it from Harvard Medical School.

    †Long, thin spaghetti has different names in different regions of Italy; for example, capellini, fedelini, spaghetti alla chitarra and tonnarelli. In the U.S., you’re most likely to find spaghetti, spaghettini and vermicelli (angel hair, capelli d’angelo, is too thin for this rich sauce). The widths of all of these strands vary, but not in a significant way to impact the recipe.

     
      

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