Wednesday, July 4, 2012


It's been incredibly humid and hot these past few days in The Hague. The forecast isn't good either. Tomorrow, it will be even hotter. I hate it. I hate this weather. It paralyzes me. It makes me want to lie down and have a very long nap and wake up when temperatures are normal again.

I was like that in Greece too, when the heat was reaching forty degrees Celsius, the only thing I could cope with doing was taking cold showers every couple of hours. I remember the time when I didn't have air conditioning in my room yet and I would drop handfuls of ice cubes on my bed before going to sleep at night. They would of course evaporate in a matter of minutes but they were a temporary and much needed relief. I'm on the verge of doing the exact same thing now in Holland. It'll be unheard of!

The worst thing in times like these, as anyone who dislikes heat can attest to, is having to cook. I have been living on salads these past few days and even though I love salads, I had to switch it up.

I don't eat a lot of pasta, I've always preferred rice or potatoes when it came to starchy foods, but S can practically eat pasta every day of the week. I cooked this dish though without having S in mind, because he would most definitely prefer a chunk of red meat on top of it rather than dainty little strands of courgette.

But you know what? He enjoyed it. He really did. I think the addition of boukovo (Greek dried hot chilli) was the redeeming factor. He loves spicy foods so keeping the boukovo on hand at the table was a good thing.

If you too are struggling with the heat and the summer high temperatures, do make this. It's a slice of summer and an excellent, fresh-tasting dish that will not keep you in the kitchen for too long. What more can you ask for on a hot summer day?
Okay, it wouldn't hurt if we were all at some beach, swimming in clean, blue waters, preferably in Greece but, what can you do?

Spaghetti with Courgette, Olive Oil and Garlic

This dish is inspired by my spaghettini with mushrooms. The idea behind it is the same. Simple, elegant and quick dish with simple ingredients. Again, you don't have a sauce per se, but a light "sauce" is created from the courgette and pasta cooking liquid, along of course with the olive oil. Extra-virgin if you please.

If you don't have a mandoline or a julienne peeler to make the beautiful courgette strands, use a sharp knife. First cut the courgette into thin slices and then into strands. It will take longer but you'll get the job done.
If you manage to cut them super thin and you enjoy the texture, you can also add them to the dish raw instead of sauteéing them with the garlic.

Yield: 2 main-course servings

200-250 g dried spaghetti
3 Tbsp plus 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
2 courgettes, about 600 g, cut into strands (almost as thin as the spaghetti)
1 tsp boukovo or dried chilli flakes (or as much as you can handle) plus extra for sprinkling on top
Zest of 1 lemon
A handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
Pecorino Romano, Parmesan or Kefalotyri cheese for grating over the top

Special equipment: mandoline (optional yet preferable), grater, colander

In a medium-sized skillet, heat 3 Tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat and add the garlic. Sauté for 30 seconds, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the courgette strands along with the boukovo or chilli flakes and some salt, and sauté for 2-3 minutes. You're aiming at softening the courgette strands a bit but you don't want all the juices to evaporate. You need them in order to make up the "sauce".

In the meantime, prepare the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to the boil over high heat and add the salt, followed by the spaghetti. Cook until al dente (firm but not very hard), or cook to your liking, stirring every so often so the strands of spaghetti don't stick together.
Reserve 60 ml (¼ cup) of the pasta water and drain the spaghetti in a colander, discarding the rest of the water. Return pasta to the pot and add the courgette strands, making sure you scrape every last drop of the liquid out of the skillet and into the pot. The starch from the pasta and the courgette juices will create a light "sauce".
Add the lemon zest and mix well with a large fork or a pasta fork. Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil, and if you find the pasta to be too dry for your liking, add some, or all, of the 60 ml of pasta water you reserved earlier.
Toss the pasta well and serve while it's hot on two dishes.
Sprinkle with some finely chopped parsley, a little boukovo or chilli flakes and grate a generous amount of cheese on top.

Eat some more later, straight from the pot. It'll be delicious still. I can attest to that.


  1. MMm love these kinds of pastas.. .maybe now you will convert and forget those 'taters :P

  2. It is really hot here and no A/C, so I know what you mean. Especially because your ice cube tip kept me thinking: didn't they melt onto the sheets and make a wet mess? I need details! I am willing to try anything! This pasta of course is a welcome way to fight the heat.

  3. Anna — hmmm perhaps...

    Nuts about food — you haven't experienced the heat in Athens that's why you're wondering. Well, the ice cubes wouldn't exactly melt, but evaporate leaving a cold sensation. When it's hot in Greece, it's reaaally hot!

  4. That sounds wonderful, Magda! I guess we were both in courgette mode this week! The hot pepper really appeals. ~ David

  5. Ha, what serendipity. I just finished eating a bowl of pasta w/ zucchini. It was not as pretty as yours, but it was quite delicious.

  6. David — during the whole summer I'm in courgette mode. I love their flavor so much.

    Denise — thank you for your flattering words.

  7. We've been having hot and humid weather here in Athens the past days and it will reach 40C next week. I can cope with the heat, it's winter I hate. To be frank I bake a lot during summer. The past week I've been baking every day but a pasta dish is always welcome. Your pasta dish sounds delicious.

  8. It is hot and humid in Beirut too and the only respite is plenty of AC or heading to the mountains for some coolness! Love your pasta, I could eat this lots, plus more garlic of course!

  9. What a lovely pasta dish! Zucchini and summer squash have just started showing up here in NYC, along with overwhelming heat and humidity, so this recipe will be just the thing for the steamy nights ahead.

  10. your pasta looks so appetising. I could so with it just now:) as it is hot here in Jordan. will give this one a try Magda.

  11. A beautiful pasta dish! So summery, refined and delicious looking.



  12. I love pasta with zucchini! I want some too!

  13. I just made this tonight! Delicious - I especially liked the lemon accent. I will make this again for sure. :)

    1. Hi Christina! I'm very happy you enjoyed it!