Zucchini-Glazed Pasta (Pasta Glassata)
I got my first taste of pasta with zucchini sauce a few years ago at Chez Black, a charming seaside restaurant in Positano, Italy. I immediately was hooked, and not just because I was dining lungo la spiaggia on the Amalfi Coast. There's something about zucchini that just tastes so fresh.
This modern take on that dish is easy and delicious: The vegetable serves as both cooking liquid and sauce. Cooking the pasta in green zucchini "juice" adds a wonderful lusciousness -- my daughter Catherine, famously picky, has asked me to make it at least a half-dozen times in the past two weeks.
For added flavor, sprinkle a few red pepper flakes on top before serving. And be generous with the cheese.
6 small or 3 large zucchini
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound spaghetti or any long pasta
Parmesan or other hard aged cheese for serving
Red pepper flakes
Line a colander with cheesecloth and place it in a big bowl. Grate the zucchini on the smallest holes of a cheese grater into the colander. (I used the small hole side on a box grater.) Toss with a pinch of salt and the garlic and let rest at room temperature for an hour.
Squeeze the zucchini to extract all the liquid. You should have about 1 cup of juice (it will be very green). Set juice and grated zucchini aside.
Boil the pasta in salted water for half the time suggested on the package, then drain it. In the empty pasta pot, bring the zucchini juice to a boil. Toss in the pasta and cook it, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente. Raise the heat to high at the end so any remaining juice is absorbed into the pasta and creates a nice glaze.
Now you can either toss the pasta with the raw grated zucchini and top with a drizzle of olive oil, or you can fry the zucchini in a skillet on high heat with 2 tablespoons oil until crispy, then toss it into the pasta. (This is how I prepared the dish and it was terrific.)
Serve the pasta with shaved or grated cheese and red pepper flakes
-- Adapted from "Pasta Modern: New & Inspired Recipes From Italy" by Francine Segan (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, Oct. 15, 2013, $21)
Gretchen McKay: email@example.com, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay. First Published October 15, 2013 8:00 PM