As we’ve seen before, pasta and vegetable dishes are a quick and easy solution for weeknight dinners, when you don’t have the time or the energy for anything fussy or fancy. This may be the easiest of them all: Spaghetti with Zucchini.
- 500g (1 lb) spaghetti
- 500g (1 lb) zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and slightly crushed
- Salt and pepper
- A few sprigs of parsley, finely chopped (optional)
- Olive oil
- Red pepper flakes
- Ricotta cheese
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- A few fresh basil leaves
- An egg yolk
You begin, as many of these dishes do, with an aglio e olio base: pour a generous amount of olive oil into a skillet (remember, this is going to be your sauce and you can always leave the excess oil in the pan when you serve) and in it, lightly sauté one or two crushed cloves of garlic over a lively flame.
When the garlic is just beginning to color, add thinly sliced disks of zucchini. Season with salt and pepper, and cook over high heat, tossing the zucchini slices from time to time to ensure even cooking, until they have become quite tender and lightly browned, about 5-10 minutes at most.
Meanwhile, get your pasta on the boil and, when it’s al dente, drain it (but not too well) and transfer it to the skillet with the zucchini. Add some minced parsley. Mix well, allowing the pasta to absorb some of the flavored oil.
Serve your Spaghetti with Zucchini immediately, with a some additional minced parsley as a topping.
Of course, you can dress this dish up a bit more: add some peperoncino if you want some heat (although I find that it tends to overwhelm the delicate flavor of the zucchini). One variation that I particularly like is to add a dollop of ricotta cheese, some grated parmigiano and a few shredded basil leaves at the very end and mix well. It turns the dish in an entirely different direction. (If you want a richer dish, you can add an egg yolk as well to the ricotta and basil mixture.)
Spaghetti is the classic choice, but you can really use the dry pasta of your choice. Linguine would also be nice, as would rigatoni. The dish is not really apt for fresh egg pasta.
Some recipes for Spaghetti with Zucchini will tell you to fry the zucchini disks in a single layer, and turn them individually so they brown evenly on both sides, etc. etc. If you’re like me, you’ll be perfectly satisfied with a less pignolo method mentioned above. Just be sure to keep the flame high, use plenty of oil and toss frequently, and even if some zucchini disks will turn out a bit less browned than others, the dish will turn out fine. But by all means, if you have the time and inclination to fry the disks individually, more power to you!
Back on Sunday… Happy eating your spaghetti with zucchini. Buon appetito!