by Peter Moore
I love Colman Andrews’ essay on his weight. “It is my opinion that whoever said ‘Nothing tastes as good as thin feels’ has probably never sat down with three ounces of Iranian osetra, a stack of freshly made blinis (the kind that aren’t made with pancake mix), a small bone spoon, and nobody else in the room.”
I’ve been trying to lose weight and it actually seems to be working. I don’t think I’ll ever be skinny again, but maybe my left knee won’t hurt so much if it’s not carrying around an extra 30 40 pounds. I decided to go with diet and exercise with a side of vegan before five and a bit of gluten free. I don’t have any gluteny-specific reasons, it’s just that when I’d stop at Acme I would think, I guess I should buy two baguettes because I’m going to eat one on the way home. So I’m riding my bike a lot (really a lot) and watching what I eat.
Oh, pasta, I’ve missed you so. This recipe isn’t really a pasta substitute (because really, what is?), but more of a riff on the form. The one thing you’re going to need is a mandoline that juliennes. You could cut the squash by hand, but it’s going to be a whole lot of work.
½ Large Summer squash (8” to 10” long) per person
2 Red Torpedo Onions diced
A bunch of dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes chopped
1 cup Gattonelli tomato juice (or water)
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic mashed to a paste with salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp Aleppo chile pepper or black pepper
1 cup or so of basil cut into thin chifonnade
1/3 lb shrimp per person peeled and deveined
Put a large pot with a steamer on to boil.
On a mandoline with 5mm julienne cutter slice the squash long ways into strips. You want to work around the outside as you slice it so you end up with a seedy center whole. If you get too much of the seedy part in it, it will fall apart when you steam it.
Heat the oil in a pan and add the onion and cook for a few minutes until softened and then add the garlic, oregano, pepper, and tomatoes. Cook a bit longer then add the tomato juice and cook until it’s all saucy. If it gets too dry add a bit more tomato juice or water.
Add the shrimp and stir until shrimp just turn pinkish.
Steam the squash for two minutes in the steamer and add to the pan.
Add the basil, mix well and serve.
I’ve used shrimp in this version but I’ve also made it with fried squash blossoms and basil, eggplant, and fried green tomatoes. Cheese is another option. The dry-farmed Early Girl tomatoes have finally come into the market from Dirty Girl and Quetzal or you could use roasted cherry tomatoes.
I’m using chopped basil here but you could make a pesto. I like to add a few pitted and chopped Cerignola olives to my pesto for a nice meaty flavor.
On a more serious note, there’s something you should know about shrimp. The Guardian lays it out pretty clearly that all the farmed shrimp from Asia is produced with slave labor. This includes the shrimp from Costco, Safeway and others. The Berkeley Bowl has stopped carrying this shrimp. So please buy American (or Mexican).
Peter Moore lives, shops, and cooks in Berkeley, California. A co-founder of San Francisco’s Roxie Cinema, he worked in the film world for many years until the lure of food drew him into the world of professional cooking. Shortly thereafter, the lure of day shifts and a medical plan drew him out of restaurants, but his love of cooking remained. He is currently an intern at The Crucible in Oakland and an Operations and Development Associate for the SF Silent Film Festival.