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Let’s Eat: Fried Zucchini Pasta
Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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This is about the time of year when everyone and his brother, mother and second cousin are trying to give away homegrown zucchini squash. Yet one can eat only so much of the vegetable grilled, stuffed with meat and cheese, or baked into bread. I say fry it and use the crispy pieces as a topping for spaghetti.
This recipe is super easy, extremely fast and will get your kids to (happily) eat their vegetables. It varies from the original Food & Wine recipe in that I use ribbony pappardelle instead of spaghetti and cut the zucchini into thin batons. I like to add a couple of good pinches of dry red pepper flakes for heat; you also could add some tiny snips of fresh red peperoncino if you’ve got it growing in your garden. In the Abruzzo region of Italy, cooks keep tiny scissors on the table for just that purpose.
Serve the pasta with crusty Italian bread and a glass of Verdicchio, a crisp white Italian wine, if you can find it. Don’t plan on leftovers.
FRIED ZUCCHINI PASTA
1 pound small zucchini, sliced into thin 1-inch batons
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 pound egg pappardelle or spaghetti
1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup torn basil leaves
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch or two hot red pepper flakes
Lemon wedges, for serving
In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the flour and a pinch of salt. In a very large skillet, heat half of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the zucchini and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the zucchini to a paper towel-lined wire rack and season with salt. Repeat with the remaining oil and zucchini.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot and toss with the 1 cup of cheese, the basil and a generous pinch of pepper. Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time, tossing well to coat. Transfer the pasta to a bowl and top with the crispy zucchini. Season to taste with red pepper flakes and a couple of squeezes of lemon. Serve right away with additional lemon wedges and cheese.
– Adapted from Food & Wine