Recipe: SPAGHETTI ALLE ZUCCHINE

Linguine with basil 2

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All right, East Village hipsters and those of you scattered in enclaves around the world, what is up with the crazy mustaches?!  Mustaches have overtaken beards with the cool boys for a while now, but the ones I’ve noticed over the last few days are reaching new heights, lengths and structural proportions.  Huge, wide and curled up at the ends like a cat’s tail.  The handlebar mustache, or the “spaghetti mustache” as it was once referred to, is taking over.  In case you were wondering how on earth this look is achieved, check out the website The Art of Manlinesss http://artofmanliness.com/2012/11/01/how-to-grow-a-handlebar-mustache/ with an entertaining, yet informative how to.  With all that mustache wax, what happens when there is a hot and heavy make out session?  Does it all kinda crack and collapse?  I don’t know if I love it, or hate it, but I appreciate the irony and the commitment to the growth, grooming and maintenance of sculptural works.  So guys, in honor of all your hard work to achieve the spaghetti mustache, I will cook up a Spaghetti with Zucchini and Basil from my winter garden, i.e. East Village windowsill, just for you.

I’m half Italian and have been living and spending time off and on in Italy my whole life, so as all of my friends know I love cooking pasta.  With all the gluten free rage these days I have cut down a bit on bread, but there is something about pasta, like I was born to eat it.  I feel great when I eat a vegetarian pasta dish, I don’t associate it with something heavy at all.  My best friend in Rome, Micol, taught me this Spaghetti alle Zuchhine dish years ago.  I love it because it’s simple, fresh and on top of that you don’t see it on the menu of every other Italian restaurant you come across in the United States, so it feels special when you make it for friends.  It’s also a great pick me up in winter.

Wintergarden 3

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Spaghetti

Coarse Salt

SPAGHETTI ALLE ZUCCHINE (SPAGHETTI or LINGUINE WITH ZUCCHINI AND BASIL) 
The combination of zucchini and basil in this dish tastes like summer in every bite, but can easily be made year round.  Don’t be afraid of the carbonara style egg in the dish, when it all comes together the dish is very light.  I happen to love long pastas and really like De Cecco as a major brand, but feel free to use penne, or another short pasta if you prefer.    

Serves 4-5 

1 large handful coarse sea salt
1 lb box of dry spaghetti or linguine
4-5 zucchini, thinly sliced into rounds
16 oz canola, grapeseed or any other light vegetable oil for frying (do not use olive oil it will become too heavy)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup grated Parmigiano cheese
1 cup shredded basil, plus some leaves for garnish
freshly ground pepper & salt to taste

Fill a large pot at least half full with water and bring it to a boil.  Add coarse salt and pasta and bring it back to a boil, stirring a couple of times to keep the pasta from sticking to itself later.

While the water is heating up and the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large pan.  Test the heat of the oil with one of your zucchini slices, when it sizzles to touch you are ready to start frying the zucchini until golden.  Do this in batches, be careful not to overcrowd the pan or the zucchini will not turn that beautiful golden color.  Pull the zucchini out of the oil with a slotted spatula or spoon as it’s ready and let it drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs lightly, add a ¼ cup of the parmesan to the eggs, a few grindings of black pepper and a pinch of salt, stir and set aside.

Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water.  Once the pasta is al dente, drain it in a colander.  I usually take a look at the cooking time written on the packaging of  the dry pasta and undercook it by at least a minute, because it will continue to cook even after you drain it.  Transfer the pasta to a bowl while it is still dripping with some of the cooking water.  Pour the egg mixture over the pasta stirring quickly so the egg does not cook.  Add the drained zucchini and stir.  If the pasta seems dry, it should be a bit wet, add a bit of the reserved cooking liquid, stir.   Add the shredded basil, half a cup of Parmigiano, stir.   Serve topped with lots of freshly cracked pepper, a few sprigs of basil and if desired, extra grated Parmigiano.