Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Zucchini Calfredo "Grande Style"

Yes, I'm back at it with this "Grande Style" thing again.  There is no more perfect accompaniment to alfredo sauce than fresh tomatoes, green onions and some ham.  That's just truth.

Now, I'm not going to take all the credit on this recipe.  There are several recipes out there in the internet that soak nuts and puree them into a paste to make the sauce.  I'm not smart enough to have thought that one up.  The recipe I started with came from Against All Grain here.  She's just adorable.  Too adorable.  Makes me want to punch her because she's way prettier than me.  But enough of my Evil Queen/Snow White complex.  Her recipe looked good.

So here's what I did

feeds 4-5
takes 1 hour soak time, plus 30 minutes more


4 medium zucchini
1 cup raw cashews
1-2 cups ham
1 cup cherry tomatoes
4 green onions/scallions
1/4 cup parmesan (optional)
1 clove minced garlic
2 tsp dried basil
2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
a few shakes of nutmeg
salt and pepper


First things first.  Boil some water.  Pour 4 cups of your boiled water into a large mixing bowl and add the cashews.  Let them soak for an hour.

While that's going on, get everything else ready.  Slice your zucchini really thin with a mandoline or if you don't have one, go buy one right now.  You have an hour, after all!  Seriously, ok, chop your ham into small pieces, cut your tomatoes into quarters, chop your green onions up fine and dig out the parmesan from the back corner of your fridge where you'd forgotten all about it.

Get your blender out and set it up.  Now, pull out a cookie sheet.  Line it with a towel, then put some paper towels ontop of the towel.  Get your strainer out and stick it in the sink.  Pull out a frypan/skillet and leave it on the stovetop.  Now you're ready.  Did that take an hour?  No?  Go away and come back when its almost been an hour.

Alright, this goes sooo fast and easy.  Pull out a large pot and fill it with some water.  Bring it to a boil.  When its boiling, add your zucchini noodles and blanch for JUST 1 MINUTE.  Seriously, not a second longer.  Soggy zucchini is just gross.  Remove pot from heat, and pour zucchini through strainer.  Immediately run cold water over the zucchini to stop the cooking process.  Now spread your zucchini over the paper towels to dry.  You may want to lay some more paper towels ontop of it and help pat it even drier.  Your choice.  Let the zucchini go cold.  Don't worry about it.

Heat your skillet over med-hi heat.  You can saute the ham, but you don't have to if its cooked ham.  Up to you.  Ok, now lift your cashews out of the soaking water but don't discard the water.  You're going to use some of it.  Add the cashews to your blender, along with 1 cup of the soaking liquid.  Add your lemon/lime juice, garlic, basil, nutmeg, pepper flakes, salt and pepper and puree everything until it makes a pasty sauce.  It may look thin at this point.  Pour this into the skillet and heat it through to mix all the flavours, let it simmer for a few minutes--it will thicken.  If it gets too thick, add some of the nut water.  At the last minute, add your parmesan.  If it makes the sauce too thick, add a tiny bit more water.

Remove from heat and stir in your zucchini noodles, cherry tomatoes, ham and green onions.  Serve with extra parmesan and hot pepper flakes.

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