10.03.10: anniversary dinner (from Torino to the countryside of Piemonte in one meal, part one).

Orechiette alla Zucchine

Today marks our second wedding anniversary, so we spent this past weekend celebrating it in the best way we know how: through food. Saturday’s dinner was a bit of an epic meal (so much that we both feel compelled to write about it), but last night I wanted to give a nod to where we spent our honeymoon–mainly because I love any excuse to make a nice northern Italian meal at this time of year.

One of my favorite gifts from my shower was a copy of Autumn in Piemonte, a lovely travel guide/cookbook that’s filled with gorgeous photography of both the Piemonetese countryside as well as down the streets of uber-chic Torino, and while flipping through it to look for a recipe to catch my eye I was struck with the idea to have a sort of city/country dinner hybrid: a little snack to pair with a lovely sipping cocktail that would be reminiscent of what you’d get during aperitivi in Torino, paired with a more rustic dinner of a simple, hearty pasta and roasted chicken. Today, I will share with you the pasta I made, and tomorrow, the savory biscuits that preceded it.

The outskirts of Acqui Terme

With Michael handling the roasted chicken, I took care of the snacks and the pasta dish. Both, honestly, are incredibly easy and while definitely on the substantial side, totally worth the calories. This orechiettei alla zucchine is nothing more than a carbornara that replaces the bacon with zucchini and garlic, and it’s perfect for this time of year: the gently fried zucchini balances the richness of the fresh eggs and cheese, adding texture and just the right amount of lightness. It’s kind of like how it’s pretty easy to get away with walking around outside in a sweater and skirt on a sunny day and neither feel too hot nor too cold–and that’s something I did quite a bit of while walking around Acqui Terme and Torino.

What I love the most about Autumn in Piemonte is that the recipes really capture the flavor, richness and simplicity in Piemontese cooking–an easy (and decidedly cheaper) way to be taken back to that wonderful region of Italy whenever I may want or need it.

Orechiette alla Zucchine

adapted from Autumn in Piemonte, serves 2

  • 1 lb zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/2 lb orechiette
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 really fresh eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a saute pan, heat oil over medium heat and add garlic and zucchini and a little salt, frying until slightly brown but still a little crisp. Take off of the heat and set aside. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil, season generously with salt, and add pasta. While the pasta cooks, whisk together the eggs, cheese and a little salt and pepper; when the pasta is done (about 2 minutes less than package recommendations) drain and then add to the pan with the garlic and zucchini over medium heat, and then carefully add the egg and cheese mixture, stirring and tossing to coat. Serve immediately.

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6 comments
  1. Happy Anniversary! Celebrations and pasta…two of my most favorite things!

  2. Happy Anniversary! You won’t believe this but I have a painting hanging above my fireplace that looks almost identical to your picture of the hillside – a bit freaky! I can’t remember the artist’s name but will be looking for him now. And that pasta is to die for – can’t wait to see the biscuits!

  3. Jordan said:

    it’s almost midnight, and you just made me hungry for dinner #2. happy anniversary!

  4. Kim said:

    Happy belated anniversary! After we eloped earlier this year, we hopped on a flight to SF and had dinner at Chez Panisse in Berkeley. I would ALMOST go as far to admit that we might have eloped so that we’d have an excuse to fly to SF and dine at Chez Panisse. And I suspect that every year, our anniversary will mark another food-related adventure. :)

    [K]

    P.S. Mr. RGBistro’s family is from Northern Italy – so we have plenty of pictures of those hillsides too! Someday, I’d love to see it in real life.

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