“Zucchini” is one of those words that I just can’t spell right the first time. I totally depend on my computer’s spell checker to make sure I am spelling it right. I don’t know what’s so difficult about remembering it. I’ve always thought I’ve been a good speller, but I keep wanting to drop a ‘c’ and add an ‘n.’ Then there’s “portobello” – I like to mess that one up, too, by spelling it “portabella.” Maybe it’s because that’s how I pronounce it?
Well, however you spell it, zucchini may be a summer fruit, but luckily for us, it’s available all year round. And I’m picky about eating this Italian Squash. If you over cook it, it becomes a soggy mess that is not very appetizing.
I first saw this Michael Chiarello recipe when my oldest was my only-est and only a few months old. Mr. Chiarello made this on some morning show and I sat there mesmerized, nursing my boy, on the couch. I totally wanted to make this dish and inhale it. But, back then (goodness, I sound so old) recipes weren’t so easily available online and I soon forgot about the zucchinis, the pasta and Mr. Chiarello.
Fast-forward 9-1/2 years and 2 more kids later and I FINALLY find the recipe online and I’m totally ready to make this dish. It certainly was worth the wait.
You want to sauté your garlic NOT burn it. So golden brown and no more. If you burn the garlic, it tastes bitter and you have to start all over again.
A mandoline is really required to make the zucchini uniform and julienned to perfection. Luckily, I had one in my cupboards, purchased from our local fair 7-some-odd years ago. You can also use those peelers that automatically julienne your vegetable without slicing your finger on a mandoline.
Because the zucchini is cut so thinly, you don’t have to cook it. The warm pasta softens it beautifully and it doesn’t turn to mush.
Some parmesan and lemon zest and this simple dish is so ridiculously good. I mean RIDICULOUSLY good.
You’re very welcome.
- 5 qt water
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 lb spaghetti
- 1 lb zucchini
- 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 TBS garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup basil, fresh, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 lemon, grated zest & juice
- 2 TBS Parmesan cheese, grated
- In a large 8-quart stock pot bring water and salt to a boil. Add spaghetti noodles and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.
- While the pasta cooks, use a mandolin with the fine French-fry cutter and slice up the zucchini. If you do not have a mandoline, cut by hand into the longest, finest julienne you can. If your zucchini is very finely cut, it does not need to be cooked. Otherwise, place in a colander, suspend over the pasta pot, cover the pot, and steam the zucchini until still slightly crunchy, about 2 minutes.
- In a small skillet heat extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat.
- When oil is hot, add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, or until light brown. Do not let the the garlic burn or it will turn bitter and need to be discarded.
- Add red pepper flakes and quickly sauté for 1 min.
- Remove from the heat and add in basil.
- When the pasta is al dente, drain through a colander, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
- Pour the pasta into a warm serving bowl.
- Toss zucchini and garlic mixture into the pasta, along with 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, parmesan, and lemon zest and juice. Toss well, adding reserved pasta water as needed to make a smooth sauce.
- Garnish with Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.