On my super fun 1-hour-and-10-minute commute to my new job, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. My current selection is Patience Gray’s Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades, and Apulia. Her beautiful and descriptive writing on the food and culture of the Mediterranean has me craving Italian-influenced dishes full of fresh vegetables, herbs, and olive oil.
Recently, since I’ve been both training for a marathon and learning the ropes of my new job at an innovative senior center that is equally frenetic and wonderful, my focus has been more on “how quickly can I consume as many calories as possible and get on with my day” than on making mealtime into a mindful sensory experience. Ms. Gray’s book and its celebration of fresh, simple food has been a reminder to me to slow down and pay attention to the food I’m preparing and eating, and to enjoy the experience. I created this zucchini dish with that in mind, and making and eating it this weekend was a much more memorable experience than many of my hurried, sad lunches were this week, scarfed while hunched over my desk.
In a few days I will have the great privilege to travel to Oslo and Copenhagen for a vacation, and there, without the daily distractions of work and other obligations, I plan to give my senses priority and pay attention to each taste and sound and view as it happens. And afterward, as much as I can, I plan to carry that awareness back into my day-to-day routine.
. . . And, just a side note of triumph: one of the seniors at the center where I work told me today that I look like an Olympic athlete—a runner. I was so pleased! Now, . . . a runner who spends more time tasting her food.
Zucchini with Cannellini Beans, Feta, and Basil-Parsley-Mint Pesto
serves 3 to 4
for the pesto
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil, packed
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, packed
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint, packed
- 3 large cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 cup shredded pecorino romano cheese
- 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Combine first six ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend, add a small amount of the olive oil, then blend again until combined. Repeat this until you’ve used all of the olive oil (all of the olive . . . ha ha ha!). Add salt and pepper to taste.
for the zucchini
- 3 medium zucchini, halved and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 15-oz. can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- squeeze of fresh lemon juice
- 3 oz. feta, crumbled
- salt and pepper
- In a large sautee pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, then add the zucchini slices and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until beginning to brown and soften. Add the water, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, lifting lid to stir occasionally.
- Add cannellini beans and stir to heat and evaporate any remaining water, about 5 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Top with feta and a large dollop of pesto.
This is delicious served with my favorite, the baguette, but you can also mix everything together with some pasta (add chicken if you’re feeling meaty) and it’s also good. You will have leftover pesto no matter what. You know what to do.