Inspired by Spaghetti alla Nerano (aka Stanley Tucci's favorite pasta!), this spaghetti with zucchini recipe is perfect for a night where you want to treat yourself to something comforting and delicious. It's also a great way to get your vegetables in - there is a whole zucchini in this single-serve dish!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium-large zucchini
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or grated
- 3 ounces spaghetti (other pasta shapes work too!)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2-4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Basil (optional, for serving)
- Fill a small-medium large pot with water, cover and set to boil. You want the water to be waiting for you so I always do this first.
- While water comes to a boil, slice 1 medium-large zucchini into 1/4-inch half moons. If desired, reserve about a third of the zucchini to grate into the sauce.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan over medium heat. Add sliced zucchini and a pinch of salt (about 1/4 teaspoon) and stir to coat in oil. Let zucchini "fry" in a single layer for 5 minutes, until they start to turn golden brown.
- Toss zucchini, and add 2 minced or grated garlic cloves and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. If you are using grated zucchini, add that at this time as well. Turn heat to low and let cook, stirring occasionally.
- By now your water should be boiling,. Add about 2 teaspoons of salt to water and 3 ounces dry spaghetti. Let boil for 7 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking.
- When pasta is finished cooking, increase heat under zucchini back to medium and use tongs to add spaghetti straight from boiling water to pan (turn off heat under pasta, but keep the pot nearby). Begin tossing spaghetti and zucchini to combine.
- Add 1/4 cup pasta water, 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese and keep tossing to create a creamy, emulsified sauce. Add up to 2 tablespoons (or more!) cheese, if desired, and more pasta water a tablespoon at a time, as needed.
- Once spaghetti is completely coated and there is little liquid left, turn off heat. Serve with torn basil, more cheese and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Eat immediately!