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Spaghetti Alla Nerano

I was predisposed to like Stanley Tucci's show on CNN about Italy; I think he is a fine actor and I always like a fellow foodie. Unfortunately, I made it only part way through the first episode before shutting my TV off. The scenery was beautiful and the food looked lovely, but I found the fact that he never ran out of superlatives to describe anything very annoying as it somehow made me distrust what he was presenting.

That being said, I was intrigued by a lot of the press that came out of the show referencing the zucchini pasta that changed Stanley Tucci's life. I made it this evening (skipping the deep frying and the overnight rest period for the zucchini which seemed unnecessary) and, while the dish did not change my life, it certainly made for a very easy and delicious four ingredient supper. Next time I make it I will double the quantity of zucchini as it melts away to nothing.

1 zucchini, washed and ends removed (quite frankly, I would make two)

1 portion spaghetti (I find portion size, especially where pasta is concerned, completely subjective so make what works for you)

2 Tbsps grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp butter

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 ladleful of the pasta water

A few hours before you plan on making the pasta dish, cook your zucchini. Slice the vegetable into thin coins. Heat the olive oil in a skillet and fry the zucchini in batches so that each coin is a deep, rich golden brown on both sides. This will take a couple of minutes per side over medium-low heat.

Remove the zucchini coins to a plate as you cook them and set aside until needed. You will end up with some of the frying oil on the plate with the zucchini but not all; let the zucchini marinate in the oil that was transferred from pan to plate and discard the oil remaining in the pan.

When you are ready to eat, bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook your pasta for one minute less than the directions on the package. Remove one ladleful of the cooking water from the pan before draining the pasta into a colander. I put the ladleful of pasta water in my pasta serving dish so that it would heat the plate before I served the spaghetti.

Place the empty pasta cooking pot back on the hob over medium-low heat and add the butter and the zucchini to the pan, breaking up the zucchini with the back of a spoon as the butter melts.

Add half of the pasta water that you set aside and the Parmesan to the pan and stir together with the zucchini until the cheese has melted and a thick sauce develops - this will take thirty seconds, if that. You can add more water if the sauce is too thick.

Add the spaghetti to the pan and cook for the remaining minute, stirring and lifting the pasta up from the bottom of the pan so that the sauce adheres to every strand of spaghetti.

Drain any pasta water you may have from your serving dish and serve your pasta on the now hot plate.

A dish that is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

Inspiration recipes, here and here.


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