As with most of my French (home-)cooking repertoire, I learned it from JL's mother. The only difference is the choice of pasta. She uses mini ravioli stuffed with cheese that would be so cute for kids, but unfortunately, I have yet to see it here in Kuala Lumpur. Thus the next best thing: bow-tie pasta, or farfalle (butterflies in Italian) as it is also called.
Serves 4 to 6
500 g zucchini
250 g dried farfalle
250 g smoked ham (in a 6-mm thick slice)
100 g mozzarella, shredded
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
250 ml whole cream
Finely shred the zucchini using a mandolin. Place the shredded zucchini on a strainer resting on a plate. Sprinkle some salt over the zucchini and set aside while you work on the rest.
Boil the farfalle in salted water two minutes less than the cooking time specified on the packaging. Do this in a large 30-cm saucepan, you'll find out why later. Meanwhile cut the ham into large cubes. When the farfalle is done, drain off the water, leaving the pasta in the saucepan.
Back to the zucchini. Its water content would have been extracted by the salt. Squeeze handfuls of the zucchini lightly and add them to the farfalle. You may want to pull the shreds of zucchini apart to loosen them, so that it can mix more thoroughly later. Add the ham cubes, nearly all of the shredded mozzarella, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Pour the cream over and, using a spatula, fold the mixture evenly.
Preheat the oven at 200°C. Drizzle some olive oil in a large baking dish, then use your finger to rub the olive oil over the base and sides of the dish. Transfer the farfalle mixture into the dish. Scatter the remaining mozzarella on top of the mixture. Bake for 30 minutes.
Also, it doesn't help for you to mix everything in the baking dish. Because either the mixture will not be homogenous, or you'll have to clean up bits and pieces that fell out of the dish when you do the mixing. Take it from someone who's been there before.
Like I've said, it is a very forgiving dish. If you use two zucchinis, you can even have a mix of both green and yellow varieties. Pork ham, chicken ham, turkey ham, the choice is yours. But more importantly, ask the deli counter to cut you a thick slice. You want the ham cubes to be visible for better aesthetics.