So I may have found a new favourite pasta.
... For this week, at least.
But seriously. This felt like an elegant pasta I'd empty my pockets for at a fine restaurant. In fact, had I been served this by a culinary genius at an award-winning joint, I would have been tickled pink. Instead, I whipped it up in my kitchen, for next to no money, in like half an hour. You sold yet?
I got the recipe from my newest cookbook, Gwyneth Paltrow's My Father's Daughter. Before I took a peek at this book, I would have never imagined myself buying a cookbook written by Gwyneth Paltrow. I mean, I totally thought she was all into macrobiotics and juice cleanses and vegan, raw awfulness. But I opened it out of curiosity one day and found it full of gorgeous pictures of yummy (and not-too-healthy) recipes and beautiful writing.
Gwyneth credits her late father for not only teaching her how to cook but also instilling in her a passion for food, and a line in her introduction reminded me so much of my own dad that it gave me goosebumps.
"My father was a master pancake maker. To the point that anyone who ever tried them would vouch that they were the best they had ever had. They still will to this day. They were thin and light and had that perfect subtle tang from fresh buttermilk. The pancake making started as a casual weekend breakfast thing and became a ritual. [...] Not only would we, his children and wife, delight in the taste of those mini stacks with warmed up maple syrup, but our extended family of friends would as well, the size of the group often swelling to twenty or so. I think he started to feel the impact of making people so content and relaxed and sated with those pancakes. He was, after all, the most loving and nurturing of all men."
Anyways, I had to buy it.
And once I read it, I had to make this pasta.
The most complicated step in this whole operation was chopping some zucchini into super-thin slices, tossing them with flour and throwing them into a deep-set pan of hot olive oil (which actually turned out to be slightly dangerous - more on that later.)
The zucchini slices came out light and crisped and delicious. We sprinkled them with lots of coarse salt (be warned - in order to taste its best, this dish does need a lot of salt) and kept them on a plate until they were ready to be tossed with the pasta, but man, was it hard not to eat them like chips. (Now these trump kale chips as a "healthy alternative" in my books, any day).
The sauce is a light mix of good-quality parmesan, olive oil and a splash of reserved pasta water and it wins Best Supporting Role in this masterpiece of a dish. The flavour creates a perfect and simple backdrop for the fresh basil and sweet, crisp zucchini.
Oh my god, you guys. I was digging around in the bottom of the pan for more of those crispy little slices. I just never... wanted them... to end.
Treat yourself to this pasta. It feels special and simply divine, and you don't have to tell whoever you're cooking it for that it took you less than half an hour and you made it with stuff lying around your fridge.
Oh, and watch out for the burning oil. Gabbs got some on her finger and now has the CREEPIEST FINGER EVER. Won't go into more detail than that.
Fried Zucchini Spaghetti
(from My Father's Daughter cookbook)
- 3/4 pound (3/4 box) spaghetti
- Coarse salt
- 3 zucchini, very thinly sliced (but thicker than paper or they will just burn)
- 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour (we used more than this, as we needed)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
- 1/4 cup pasta water, to thin
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Handful fresh basil leaves, roughly torn
Boil the spaghetti in salted water until just al dente.
Meanwhile, toss the zucchini with the flour. Heat the 1/4 cup olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan over high heat and add as much zuchinni as will fit in a single layer. Cook, stirring and flipping occasionally until well browned and a little crispy, about 4 minutes. Remove to a plate and sprinkle with coarse salt. Repeat until you've cooked all zucchini.
Meanwhile, whisk the cheese with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and whisk in 1/4 cup of the pasta water until you've reached a creamy consistency. Drain spaghetti and add to bowl with the parmesan mixture.
Toss together, season with salt and pepper and fold in two-thirds of the fried zucchini and all of the basil.
To serve, portion pasta into four shallow bowls and evenly distribute the rest of the zucchini on top of each, along with a couple of gratings of the the parmesan.
Make, make, make this!