Monday, October 13, 2014


I woke up this morning and was shocked to see it's October and not August. Where did late summer go? Halloween decor has been gracing the shelves of my CVS since July 5th, so perhaps I've trained my brain to screen out all references to Fall. But I know whom to blame for my confusion: My CSA is still offering zucchini and squash, so I'm still in summer mode. You'll have to scalpel away the Haflinger cork sandals from my dead, tan feet. (Sorry, this is a horrible image.)

Today I present you with a classic Sicilian recipe that my grandmother and mother prepared many times for my sister and I when we were little girls. The main ingredient is zucchini, thinly sliced and fried until golden brown and then spooned over spaghetti and topped with grated cheese. The sweet juices from the zucchini are going to give your spaghetti a nice brown color once you mix all the ingredients, which is something I remember perfectly from my childhood.

Standing in front of a frying pan for 20 minutes, carefully turning over zucchini slices is not my ideal approach to summer heat, so maybe it's really better if we make this pasta in October, when the air is nice and cool and our sunny past is just behind us.

Fried zucchini
Fried zucchini at rest.


And here's the Garlic Rule you've been waiting for since reading this post's title. As you will see in the recipe below, the garlic is just crushed, added to the hot oil until golden, AND THEN DISCARDED. This is key concept in Italian cooking that people used to Italian-American cooking might not realize. Italians love garlic and use it often, but they like it mostly in moderation, as a small pungent accent. Heaps of minced garlic are NOT a thing in Italian cuisine. By frying the garlic for a minute, you basically infuse the oil with garlic flavor and perfume and you don't turn it into a branding tool to stamp the word "garlic" on your entire meal.

Eat me.


4 medium zucchini
2 garlic cloves, crushed 
1/4 C EVOO (or enough to fry the zucchini)
1 lb spaghetti
1/4 C grated pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano

  • Cut the zucchini in 1/4'' disks and set up a large pot with water for the spaghetti.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan.
  • Cook the garlic cloves in the hot oil for one minute, or until golden. Then discard.
  • Place the zucchini disks in one layer in the pan and fry on both sides, a few minutes per side, until golden brown. You might need to fry the zucchini in batches.
  • Remove the zucchini and place them on a plate covered with paper towels to drain the excess oil.
  • Cook the spaghetti al dente. You might want to use the technique for pasta with uncooked sauce outlined here.
  • Mix the spaghetti in a large bowl with the zucchini, the cheese, and some freshly-ground black pepper.
  • Serve immediately.

And since we're making spaghetti, let's refresh our basic pasta skills:

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