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Zephyr Zucchini with Opal Basil, Pine Nuts, and Parmigiano-Reggiano

(recipe, Deborah Madison)


With their slender pale yellow bodies tipped in pale green, Zephyr zucchini are far too pretty to chop. Instead, halve them lengthwise to retain their pretty markings, cook, then shower them with purple basil, freshly grated Parmesan, and pine nuts β€” the elements of pesto but brought together in the mouth rather than the mortar. The plum-colored opal basil is especially gorgeous here. Of course you can use other basils β€” or summer squashes for that matter β€” to make this dish. Regardless of varieties used, this is easy, attractive, and very good.


  1. 1 lb. or more Zephyr or other zucchini, each 6 to 8 inches long
  2. Salt and pepper
  3. ΒΌ cup pine nuts
  4. Extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  5. 10 large opal basil leaves, torn into pieces
  6. Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


  1. Slice the squash lengthwise in half, then steam or simmer in salted water until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden.
  3. When the squash is done, arrange it on a platter, cut side facing up. Drizzle olive oil over it and season with salt and pepper. Grate a veil of cheese over the squash, add the pine nuts and basil, and serve.


Read more about summertime gardening in Deborah Madison's "The limits of vegetarianism."