A few months ago, I discovered, via Cooking LIght and this now favorite recipe adaptation, the joy of cooking pasta in just enough liquid to bubble up over the top of the noodles. I realized as I made this dish that I was simply making sopa seca, the wonderful “dry soup” of Mexico.
There’s nothing dry about sopa seca, but there’s not a whole lot of liquid. The method defies the conventional wisdom of giving pasta plenty of room in pot as they boil, and I still cook pasta that way when it’s the right way to cook it. But this method—in which just 2 1/2 cups of broth are used for 4 ounces of pasta—behaves in an interesting way with any pasta, and particularly with gluten-free versions. I was nervous that the pasta would dissolve into mush, which can happen pretty easily when you boil it in a giant pot of water. But this pasta—I used Full Circle Gluten-Free Spaghetti, made from corn and rice—stayed stubbornly intact, which ended up tasting amazing, and also remained pleasantly “to the teeth,” as they say in Italian. Additionally, the corn and rice starch soaks into the broth, boosting it with subtle flavor. Given that both grains are closely associated with Mexican cuisine, it worked perfectly.
For the zucchini, I used Steve’s trick for even browning. He’s a stickler for getting all sides seared, so rather than cube the zucchini before hand (thus having to turn over each individual cube), we slice the zucchini lengthwise. We end up with 5 or 6 slices that are easy to turn; then we cut them afterward.
It goes together quickly. Non-vegans can add any number of protein choices to it, but it’s wonderfully filling and you really don’t need them, especially if you go a little hog-wild with the toppings. Is the vegan version of hog-wild….I dunno, avocado-wild? I kinda like that. May keep it. Or send your own nominations in the comments section. Above all, simply enjoy this lovely meal.