Zucchini ribbons with chile, pine nuts & ricotta

At the Chile Trail, we live for danger. Don’t believe us? Try this on for size. We’ve been known to let the gas tank get down to a quarter full before filling it up again. Yep, we know – madness. Once we waited to pack for holiday a whole week before we left. Crazy? You got it. 

So when someone gave us a mandoline for Christmas we saw danger written all over it. For the uninitiated, a mandoline is a kitchen utensil with a flat frame and adjustable blades for slicing vegetables. The danger? Use it without the hand guard and you’ll find that it’s good for creating wafer thin slices of finger too.  

Zucchini ribbons sliced on the mandoline.

How could we resist? Soon we were slicing everything that didn’t move from carrots to fennel to apples and pears. We thought about it using it on butter but realized that was just silly. This I’m-a-fancy-pants-chef-like-person-dish is the result of our borderline obsession with the mandoline.

If you don’t have a mandoline, you could use a super sharp knife or even try a vegetable peeler. Or you could stop being such a cheap so-and-so and buy one. They’re – as they say in England – cheap as chips. And then you too can take a walk on the wild side.   

Ricotta is optional but you know you love it.

Serves 4

1.5 lb. zucchini – green, yellow, whatever

¼- ½ tsp. chile pequin

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

3 Tbsp. pine nuts, lightly toasted

2-3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 lemon

Ricotta cheese (optional)

Wash the zucchini and give the stem end a light trim. Slice on the mandoline to create long ribbons. Or use a super sharp knife or vegetable peeler.

Place a deep frying pan on medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When it’s warmed, add the chile pequin. The chile should sizzle and spit. Don’t be deterred – remember, we live for danger. Add the garlic, give it a quick stir and then immediately add the zucchini (if you’re busy texting your buddy you’ll find that you’ve burned your garlic). 

Season with salt and stir fry for a few minutes. The zucchini should relax but you don’t want it limp. Remove from the heat and stir in half of the pine nuts. Place the zucchini on a platter. Finely grate the lemon over the zucchini. Slice the lemon in half and give the veg a few generous squeezes of lemon juice. Sprinkle the remaining pine nuts over the top and add another hit of chile pequin and generous dollops of ricotta cheese, if you’re using.

Sit down and eat. You deserve it. You’ve faced danger and come out the other side.  

Don’t forget to add more chile. Always more chile.


Do you know the world record for biggest squash ever grown? No? We didn’t either. Thank heavens for this new fangled thing called the ‘internet’. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do. Anyway, turns out that the award goes to one Joel Jarvis from Ontario (read about lovely Joel here). His squash weighed in at almost 1,500 pounds which one news report equated to the size of a polar bear. Gosh, who knew?


Joel says it was all down to lots of fertilizer and TLC. The prize-winning specimen – so we understand – gained up to 40 lbs per day. Which of course makes you wonder how they figured that one out. Did they drag the bathroom scales out to the veg patch every day?

But I digress. Why you ask, this obsession with squash? Because dear reader, the season is upon us. Plant a squash plant – just one – and you’ll be inundated for what seems a lifetime. They grow exponentially (okay, maybe not like Joel’s but you get the idea) and if you turn your back on them, they go from cute wee things to the squash that ate Manhattan.

So as summer draws ever nearer, you’ll see people frantically searching their files for squash recipes. Remember Aunt Flo (she was the one with the rather heavy beard) and her zucchini bread? Get the ovens cranked up for that puppy. And how about that squash puree bake with cracker crumbs (on second thought, nix that one)? Or just let your fingers do the walking and go to that marvelous new thing, the ‘web’. We came up with – and we’re not kidding here – over 30 million hits in .22 seconds. Don’t you love technology?

But to get you started, here’s an old favorite. Actually, it’s not that old. We just dreamed it up about 15 minutes ago. It’s quick, easy and you’ll be thanking us for the next 3-4 months. And if you are growing squash, consider setting up a sentry schedule with family members and loved ones to keep an eye out on your crop. You may not get close to Joel’s record but you’d be surprised what squash get up to when you’re not looking.

Summer Squash with Spicy Tomato Sauce

Serves 3-4 as a side dish

1 lb yellow squash (about 2 medium)
1 cup plain tomato sauce
1 tsp Chile Pequin (or more to taste)
1 Tbsp olive oil + additional for the squash
1 garlic clove finally chopped
Chopped herbs to garnish (basil, cilantro or parsley are good choices) – optional
New Mexico Chile Caribe Green to garnish

Preheat oven to 425˚ F

Cut off the stem and tail ends of the squash and slice the rest into thin rounds. Brush two baking sheets with olive oil then place the squash slices on the pans and brush the slices with some of olive oil. Sprinkle with a bit of sea salt and place in the pre-heated oven.


Roast until cooked through but not mushy – it shouldn’t take more than about 10 minutes. While the squash is roasting, make the spicy tomato sauce. Place the chile, olive oil and garlic in a saucepan and cook gently until the oil starts to sizzle and the garlic cooks slightly (watch it like a hawk because garlic loves to burn and burned garlic is a no-no). Add the tomato sauce and cook for a few minutes. Taste and add salt if needed.


To serve, arrange the squash around a platter. Drizzle some of the tomato sauce over the top and place the rest in a serving bowl so folks can add more if they desire. Garnish with the herbs (if using) and Green Chile Caribe and serve. This is also mighty tasty with the additional of a bit of goat’s cheese or cubes of feta on top.