If there’s one thing I’ve always counted on in the summer, it’s an abundance of zucchini. When I was a kid, we would have such plethora of zucchini growing in our garden that in addition to feeding it to us in various forms at dinner, my mother would bake it into zucchini bread for breakfast and chocolate-zucchini cake for dessert. This recipe, which is based on a recipe from Bon Appétit, August 2006, is a wonderful summer dinner because it actually only requires cooking the pasta. The zucchini ribbons are lightly soaked in salt (or fleur de sel if you have it) to become very luscious tender strips that coalesce beautifully with the strands of fettuccine. The walnuts and Pecorino-Romano cheese and basil round out the dish to make a perfectly delicious, satisfying and well-balanced vegetarian summer entrée.
- 2 pounds small zucchini, untrimmed
- 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt or fleur de sel
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 3 anchovy fillets, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
- 1 pound whole wheat fettuccine
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for serving
- 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Place 1 zucchini on work surface. Using vegetable peeler and firmly holding zucchini by stem end, shave zucchini lengthwise into long ribbons. Discard scraps. Repeat with remaining zucchini. Place ribbons in large colander; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Rinse zucchini under cold running water; drain well. Spread on 2 large kitchen towels or paper towels; roll up in towels to absorb excess water. Set aside.
Combine garlic, anchovy fillets, and crushed red pepper in mortar and pestle. Using pestle, crush mixture until paste forms.
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Transfer pasta to a large bowl and combine with garlic mixture. Add 1/3 cup oil and 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid; toss. Add zucchini, walnuts, 1/2 cup cheese, basil, and mint; toss. Season with salt and pepper, adding more pasta cooking liquid if mixture is dry. Drizzle with additional oil. Sprinkle with zucchini flowers, if desired. Serve with remaining cheese.