Food & Drink

Turn all that zucchini into a topping for pasta

Fry sticks of zucchini into a topping for pasta.
Fry sticks of zucchini into a topping for pasta. Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

This is about the time of year when everyone and his brother, mother and second cousin are trying to give away zucchini. 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 easy, fast and will get kids to (happily) eat 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 add a couple of good pinches of dry red pepper flakes for heat.

Serve the pasta with crusty Italian bread. Don’t plan on leftovers.

Fried Zucchini Pasta

1 pound small zucchini, sliced into thin 1-inch batons

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Salt

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 1 cup of cheese, 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.

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