Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fusilli with Zucchini and Onion (sans the red or white sauce)

Was there a reason for my tomato question? A tiny bit of curiosity combined with wanting to know of the thousands of varieties of tomatoes what most of us were buying. It seems just a few. Seriously don't those tomatoes readily available in the supermarkets feel like squishy blobs with absolutely no taste? Something happened recently, my local supermarket starting carrying those ugly looking shapeless but expensive tomatoes. I bought some and seriously those heirloom tomatoes are darn tasty compared to the ones I regularly buy.

Red - what we are buying
Green - what we want to buy

When we were kids, tomato juice was not a vegetable juice but in the same league as most fruit juices. Tangy and slightly sweet from the added sugar and with their beautiful color was a sought after drink. These days I rarely see anybody drinking tomato juice.

The informal survey confirmed that most of us are buying those very same tasteless roma, beefsteak, big boy and cherry tomatoes. They ooze red juice but that is just about the tomato characteristic they seem to have. But sadly they are the only ones that are healthy for our wallets. But our heart is in the right place, we'd all buy real tomatoes if only we could. Number one the availability, number two affordability. The most recent purchase of heirloom set me back by $6.00 for 2 tomatoes though for the taste it was worth it. Seriously though I cannot afford to buy them every time.

On to the pasta,
A friend made pasta with olive oil, pepper and lemon juice still tasted so very good and way better than the saucey pasta.

Apparently pasta by default did not need the mandatory red sauce to taste good and the food section in the Washington Post had a recipe for just such a pasta with zucchini and onions.
I was planning on using chopped up veg. burger pieces in place of the sausage in the recipe but I used chicken instead. For a vegetarian option use sauteed veg. burger pieces.

Fusilli pasta with zucchini and onions
1. 1 1/2 cup fusilli pasta
2. 6 baby zucchinis chopped
3. 1 cup onions sliced thin
4. 1 cup chicken, cubed and marinated in chili powder and salt (substitute with veg burger pieces)
5. 1/2 tbsp black pepper
6. 2 tbsp lemon juice
7. 2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves or basil leaves
8. salt to taste
9. 1 cup of chopped (heirloom) tomatoes
10. 1 tbsp olive oil
11. freshly grated Parmesan cheese as required

1. In a flat wide mouthed pan, heat the oil and saute the chicken pieces till they are cooked and set aside. Cook the pasta as per package directions.
2. In the same oil add the onions and cook till brown
3. Add the zucchini, salt and pepper and cook till soft.
4. Add the chicken pieces and give a good mix.
5. Add the coriander leaves or basil and the cooked pasta.
6. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add more salt and pepper if required.
7. Remove from heat add grated Parmesan cheese and top with tomatoes and serve hot.


  1. I wondered why tomatoes when you could have chosen something else ;)

    Pasta looks nice ISG, good way to hide Zucchini(or highlight it)

  2. I agree with you, I cannot buy the expensive ones every time. I am planning to have some in my yard this year but not sure.
    I love pasta without the red sauce too. Looks good.

  3. Pasta without sauce is new for me...the fusilli looks yum...i am sure the lemon and the chicken pcs must have imparted agr8 taste:)

  4. Interesting recipe .Thanks for giving options for vegetarians like me.

  5. Indo, I totally agree! we dont need the red or white sauce on every pasta dish! IT is tastier even without the sauce. I used to make vendaikai pasta (really!) for DD with baby cut okras and curry powder and she loved it!!

    Have fusili, will try this dish soon.

    About the tomatoes, are you going to plant them - the heirloom ones, this yr? and like last yr's swiss chard challenge, are we having any this yr? :) My pots in the balcony are all ready to go.

  6. Thanks for the info, taste, color about tomatoes ISG, did not know about other varities. We just stick with the usual suspsects.
    DS loves pasta without sauces and this is definitely worth a try.

  7. Heirloom tomatoes are definitely so much tastier than regular ones.. wish they were a bit more affordable though. Pasta with zucchini looks delicious.. I love such pastas which don't have a lot of sauce.

  8. Pasta without sauce looks fantastic and yummy...

  9. I've not tasted heirloom tomatoes but for that price they better be good :) hope to try it sometime soon.
    The baby zucchini looks very cute and the pasta dish looks great. I enjoy a simple aglio olio from time to time so have to make this.

  10. The hybrid ones here don't cook as easily as the country varieties. They are more "plumpy" and good-looking, though! And I heard of tomato juice only as a grown-up, and can't say I like the thought of it.

  11. We made a rich creamy mushroom sauce this weekend and I think this will complement the rich sauce.

    I used to love drinking tomato juice in India, but not a big fan of the V8's. I rather make my own.

  12. a good many pasta recipes call for fresh tomatoes just cooked down a little bit..i add a bit of the chili garlic sauce to the pasta to give it a kick. haven't seen these tomatoes here, tho i get vineripened ones in the farmer's market.

  13. Light and summery is the sauceless pasta. Most of the time I love them this way.. like a salad with a crunch.

    Can't really buy the heirloom on mass scale, but two big ones for a day is very much worth it. Love the tomatoes that come out straight from the yard.

  14. here at home everyday we are getting basket fulls of heirloom tomatoes from Maa's backyard. just today we made some pickle and they taste incredibly good. the pasta looks lovely ...I like this version more than the saucy creamy things and I always put whatever veggies I lay my hands on.

  15. wooow,,,name itself sounds great dear... sure dear u r right i wont buy the expensive stuffs all time if i need at that time then only will think n buy the stuffs..pasta without sauce is also taste good we mostly cook pasta without the sauces,,,

  16. have you seen 'food inc'? in the beginning of the documentary, it talks about how a grocery store tomato is a mere "notion of a tomato". your post has inspired me to try and grow some tomatoes :)

  17. VeggieBelly, have not seen Food,Inc. I seem to be forever on hold at my local library. The documentary is being broadcast on PBS April 21. So I will watch it soon.

    You should absolutely grow tomatoes. They are in fact the easiest, a pot and a sunny spot is all you need.

  18. I loved this simple and delicious pasta.

    I am hoping to grow tomatoes this year, hope it works out well...

  19. Looks great and I have to agree with you about the tomatoes. The roma ones are nothing compared to the real deal. I do indulge myself for the ones on the vine which are expensive but tasty.

  20. Looks yumm and I love the addition of Zucchini in it

  21. Pasta Aglio Olio is my favourite - pasta tossed with oil and garlic - simple but really tasty - especially if you use some good quality olive oil. To suit our Indian palate, I also add some red chilli flakes. Try it!

  22. This is a very informative write-up ISG. I have Heirloom varietis in the past and they taste divine. That's the time you realise the difference.
    I get the on-the-vine variety for the extra tang.

  23. hey thats so great pasta without sauce, must try once..


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