Pasta con Zucchine e Ricotta Salata
Here is another recipe where you can put your zucchini to use. We made this pasta dish at the all-zucchini cooking class on Saturday.
You can prepare everything while the pasta cooks. The key ingredients are zucchini and a flurry of grated ricotta salata. I was lucky to have a nice ricotta affumicata that my parents brought back from Calabria, but either will work well with this dish. Even fresh ricotta will make this dish flavorful.
My aunt used to prepare this dish; the ricotta salata melts when it hits the pasta, and by adding a little hot water from the pasta pot, you can create an almost creamy sauce. Some people prefer to sauté the zucchini, but I think the fried zucchini have more flavor. And some would say peperoncini (hot peppers) are optional, but not in my house!
Slice the zucchini in 1/8 inch rounds:
Sprinkle them with a teaspoon of salt and toss. Fry the zucchini slices in batches until golden on both sides.
Leave a couple of tablespoons of oil in the pan when you are done frying the zucchini slices and add the garlic, fried zucchini slices and chopped basil. Cook for few minutes to infuse the flavors.
Drain the pasta and add it to the pot with the zucchini. Toss well and add the ricotta salata. Add some pasta water to make a creamy sauce.
Pasta with Zucchini and Ricotta Salata
1-1/2 pounds zucchini, sliced into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
Extra virgin olive oil for frying
1 pound spaghetti or bucatini
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
1 or 2 small fresh green or red chilies, minced (optional)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup finely grated ricotta salata cheese, plus more for garnish
Put the sliced zucchini in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat.
Heat 1/4 inch of oil in a frying pan over moderately high heat until it sizzles when you insert the end of a wooden skewer or chopstick (about 365ºF). Add the zucchini in batches and fry, turning with a fork, until lightly colored in spots. Transfer them as they are done to a plate.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
Just before the pasta is done, finish the sauce. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the frying oil and reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the garlic and chilies and cook briefly just to soften them; do not let them burn. Add the basil and zucchini, toss gently, and cook briefly just to infuse the zucchini with the seasonings.
Set aside 1 cup of pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the warm pot. Add the zucchini and the cheese and toss well, adding reserved water as needed to moisten the pasta and make a creamy sauce. Serve immediately, topping each portion with a little more grated cheese.
Serves 4 to 6
Copyright 2006, Rosetta Costantino. All rights reserved.