Rigatoni With Fried Zucchini
- Servings: 4.
It's thought that zucchini originated in Italy and was brought to the United States by farming immigrants in the early 20th century. We have them to thank for this popular, year-round vegetable. It's used in this simple pasta that is commonly found on restaurant menus throughout Italy.
Choose smaller, firm, glossy zucchini that have no marks or pits. You can make this recipe with any long strand or cut pasta, but I like how the larger rigatoni stands up to the rich complexity of the fried zucchini and grated Parmesan.
- 2 to 3 pounds of zucchini, about 4 medium zucchini, enough to make 6 cups when sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound rigatoni
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- After trimming off and discarding the neck and base, slice the zucchini into 1/4-inch rounds without peeling the skin.
- Add the olive oil to a large sauté pan or skillet and place over medium high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the minced garlic. Cook for about a minute or until it becomes slightly soft and fragrant.
- Add the zucchini slices, a pinch of salt, and several grinds of black pepper and cook at medium heat until they become golden brown and wrinkled. This can take about 10 minutes so be patient. The zucchini will be somewhat falling apart but don't worry about this. When deep golden brown, remove from the pan to a bowl, shaking off some but not all of the oil.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the rigatoni to al dente, according to the package instructions.
- While the pasta is cooking, fill your pasta serving bowl with hot water. This will help warm the bowl.
- Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
- Dump out the warm water from the serving bowl, and add the drained rigatoni and butter. Toss immediately to combine and to help the butter melt over the hot pasta, coating every piece of pasta. Add a little of the pasta cooking water if the pasta seems too dry.
- Add the grated Parmesan and toss again so that the cheese melts and combines with the melted butter to create a kind of sauce.
- Add the cooked zucchini slices and toss again.
- Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve immediately.