Here’s something I can admit about myself — nothing sinks in the first time. I hear something, taste something, feel something, and then I store it away. Okay, there might be three people in the world who would describe me as impulsive, but most of you who know me would not. I process things slowly. I over-think, and then I think some more. About this “pasta,” if you want to call it that, I’ve been making a Michael Chiarello dish for years with spaghetti and shreds of fresh zucchini. Every time I make that dish, I think “hmm, it would be just as good without the noodles.” Now, as you’ve probably heard since I won’t stop talking about it, I’ve gone gluten-free. I’ve been experimenting with gluten-free pastas of course. Then I tried a dish with shreds of zucchini in place of the pasta from Gluten-Free Girl’s next cookbook. Her recipe is insanely good, but you’re going to have to wait a while to see it. (Sorry!) Now that summer has rolled around and zucchini is stacked up at the farmer’s market (and it’s crazy cheap too), I’ve had Shauna’s recipe on my mind. Then recently my friend Diana wrote this post with a recipe using zucchini as a substitute for Asian-style noodles. The next day I was at the farmer’s market, so of course I picked up some zucchini. I didn’t make either Shauna or Diana’s recipe — I figured I’d improvise a bit instead. It’s summer after all (or close to it), and so I went with a relatively traditional pesto-style sauce. That’s feta cheese on top. I totally borrowed that from Shauna’s recipe which is otherwise enjoyably different than mine. And though it probably wasn’t necessary, I did cook the zucchini briefly in a little olive oil because I was craving something warm.
Speaking of inspiration, I had the chance to meet Tara of Seven Spoons in person recently. It was brief, but it meant a lot to me because I’m such a big fan of her site. I asked about her photographic process, and I’m going to really paraphrase this, but she told me she doesn’t fuss with the food a lot, despite how stunning her photographs are. I’m putting words into her mouth, but she sees the natural beauty of the food. Believe me, as someone who hires some incredible food stylists on a regular basis, I have an indescribable appreciation for what they do. But as most food bloggers know, when you work alone, it’s challenging to focus on everything at once. The garnish may be wilting, the meat may be drying out, and who knows what else can go wrong after several minutes of shooting the same dish. If you learn to appreciate the natural beauty of the food, and you find a way to express that through your photography, then you might not spend as much time fussing. In fact, when you can find that natural beauty in food, posting on your blog can feel like more of an art than a chore. So I was thinking of Tara when I took these shots. I didn’t retwirl the zucchini, though I did lift it from the serving bowl with tongs to place it in the bowl. I nudged a few crumbs of feta cheese. Besides that, it is what it is, and I think it’s kind of exquisite. I’m talking about the food itself, not my photos of it. Thanks, Tara, for the inspiration.