I drove home for my mother’s birthday party on Sunday. It’s a relatively long drive from Kansas City to Oklahoma City, a straight shoot down I-35 that makes me sleepy with monotony. Cookie and I finally arrived, five long hours later, and I got a couple of hugs on my way to my room for a nap. I woke up to eat pizza on the back porch, after which my grandmother served the blueberry froyo that she made with my aunt. Note to self: I should tell you all more about my rad 80-year-old grandmother someday.
Home has been nice. I’ve been soaking up family time and catching up with old friends. I’ve also made sure to visit my favorite Mexican restaurants, because I just haven’t found a Kansas City Mexican place that serves meals like this. On our evening walks, I have been reminded that Oklahomans are the friendliest of people. Hellos and smiles all around.
I whipped up this meal a few days before I left home. The pesto has a bit of a Mexican flair thanks to cilantro, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and jalapeño. It’s more flavorful than spicy, and it has won a special place in my heart along with all the other herb sauces that I hold dear (avocado chimichurri, salsa verde, tahini-dill dressing, savory dill-basil yogurt and lemon citronette).
I know there are plenty of cilantro haters out there (I’m a lover, myself) but you could swap out the cilantro pesto for any of my others. The squash noodles lighten up a traditionally carb-heavy pesto and pasta dish. Finally, I can chomp on tons of noodles and not feel like I’m digesting a bowling ball afterward!
I’ve been playing with my new kitchen toy lately, a julienne peeler. I had it on my wishlist for a while, but after Laura endorsed it alongside this cucumber watermelon stunner, it promptly landed in my mailbox. (You are reading Laura’s blog, The First Mess, right? It’s marvelous; she’s marvelous.)
So far, I’ve used my handy little peeler to make these squash noodles, and to quickly transform whole carrots into pretty orange strands for coleslaw. I’m going after a cucumber next. You should probably get one so we can throw a vegetable noodle party or take a cue from Laura and instagram our fancy lady lunches. But don’t worry if you don’t have one yet, because I’ve provided alternative slicing methods in the recipe below.
- 1/3 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1 cup packed cilantro (mostly leaves, about 2 bunches' worth)
- 2 teaspoons seeded and roughly chopped jalapeño
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces (1/2 pound) whole grain fettuccine or linguine
- 2 small zucchini
- 1 yellow squash
- Lightly toast the pepitas in a small pan over medium-low heat for a few minutes, tossing frequently, until fragrant. Transfer the pepitas to a bowl to cool a bit.
- Remove any discolored skin from the squash with a paring knife. Use a julienne peeler (or regular peeler) to slice the squash lengthwise, one side at a time (stop once you get to the seeded part, then turn the squash to work on the next side).
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook fettuccine until al dente, according to the package's instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, salt and cooled pepitas. While running the food processor, drizzle in the olive oil. Stop processing once the pesto is well blended.
- Toss the cooked pasta and ribboned squash with the pesto and serve.
- Pesto recipe based on Shutterbean's pepita pesto pasta with roasted squash. You might also like 101 Cookbooks' pepita salad recipe.
- If you don't have a julienne peeler, you can use a regular vegetable peeler to make squash ribbons as directed below, or slice the squash into super thin rounds with a sharp knife (in which case, you might prefer rotini or penne pasta instead of fettuccine/linguine).
- Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a few days. Expect the squash to lose a little moisture, but the leftovers will still be very good. Serve chilled, or at room temperature, or gently reheated... it's good any way.