About 2 C mild vegetable oil (sunflower and or olive oil can be used)
8-10 small zucchini (about 3# by my kitchen scale)
1 ½ C torn, fresh basil
Sea salt to taste
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound spaghetti
2-3 C grated parmesan cheese
Put the oil in a large pot (like a Dutch oven) and bring to almost boiling over medium high heat.
Slice the zucchini into thin rounds (1/4” or less). Fry in the hot oil until it is golden brown. Remove and set aside on a paper towel lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with torn basil and sea salt. This can be done in batches. See option to deep frying below.
Transfer zucchini mixture to a bowl and drizzle with a little olive oil, if needed, to prevent them from clumping together.
Boil the pasta in salted water until al dente. (About 2 minutes before recommended cooking time.) Strain, reserving about 2 C of the pasta cooking water.
Place the cooked pasta in a large pot over low heat along with the zucchini mixture and gently combine. Add the pasta water, a little at a time, to create a cream texture. You may not need all 2 C of the water.
Add the cheese to the mixture a little at a time and continue to combine by stirring gently and tossing.
When the mixture has a slight creaminess, remove from the heat and serve immediately.
Option to deep frying: Put zucchini rounds in a bowl and coat lightly with olive oil. Spread them out on a baking sheet and bake in a 360 degree oven until browned. Watch closely and turn them to avoid burning. You can also put the sheet under the broiler at the end of cooking to produce browning.
Note: The zucchini mixture can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days. It can also be used in a frittata, as a side dish or in a cheese sandwich. You’ll also see this recipe using shredded Provolone cheese, garlic, or butter, but this one comes from Stanley Tucci, author of “Taste”. He swears version of "Spaghetti con Zucchine alla Nerano" is the only authentic one! Sounds like a proud Italian!
You can also add zucchini to pasta salad, hot pasta dishes, as a side, in veggie kebabs, eggs, soups like Minestrone, to replace lasagna noodles, grilled and in baked goods like cookies and quick breads. See a few more “Seasoned Franciscan zucchini posts: “Zucchini Waffles and “Zucchini Brownies” 8/12/22, “Summer Squash and Onions” 8/22/22.
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Story: After a short out of town trip, we came home to a monster garden zucchini (which we'll use in waffles) and several small ones. We used then in “Pasta with Zucchini from Navaro” (a small town on the Italian Amalfi coast). It’s a yummy favorite of Stanley Tucci, who admits his life revolves around food!
Besides the recipes, what interested me in his memoir “Taste: My Life Through Food” was his Italian American upbringing and his love for all things tasty, including cocktails. Ironically, he survived mouth cancer and, gratefully, regained his ability to eat and taste solid food after the challenges of treatment.