An added perk to my job this year is that I get to spend lots of quality time with my good friend Buff Strickland, the incredibly talented photographer that’s shooting my entire book. Buff’s laid-back vibe makes every shoot day a fun one, and since she also shares my love of simple, seasonal cooking, we typically spend our shoot breaks discussing what we’ve been cooking up in our kitchens that week. The other day, Buff mentioned this late-summer pasta dish that’s become her go-to for simple family dinners as well as casual entertaining, and I begged her to share it with us. Keep reading for the drool-worthy images as well as her recipe. Thanks, Buff!
First, a little insight into how my meal planning typically goes: I start by thinking of the flavors I’m in the mood for, then consider what’s in season and how much time I have. Then, I end up scrapping that plan to adjust it all to what our 4-year-old son George will actually eat. Since I prefer that he eats whatever my husband and I are eating, it means I have to be open to slightly adjusting my preferences to accommodate his. Thankfully, this is one of those dishes that he’ll eat and that we love. It’s loaded with texture from the raw zucchini and toasted walnuts, and it’s got a great salty bite with a kick of garlic and the freshness of mint. You can leave the mint out if you want, but I wouldn’t recommend it! It’s really this unexpected flavor that makes this dish one of our favorites.
Fettuccine with Zucchini ribbons and walnuts
- 2 1/2 pounds small zucchini
- 1 teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse kosher salt
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed
- 1 tablespoon anchovy paste or 2 anchovy fillets, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon (scant) dried crushed red pepper
- 1 pound fettuccine
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for serving
- 3/4 cup walnuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, divided
- 1/2 cup (packed) thinly sliced fresh basil
- 1/4 cup (packed) chopped fresh mint
Using a Mandoline on the thinnest setting shave zucchini lengthwise into long ribbons. You can also use a vegetable peeler, but in that case don’t trim the zucchini so you can hold onto the stem end. If you can’t find small zucchini then cut them in half lengthwise before shaving. Place ribbons (about 10 cups total) in large colander, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Spread on 2 large kitchen towels; roll zucchini up in towels to absorb excess water and salt. Set aside.
Combine garlic, a sprinkling of salt, anchovy paste, and crushed red pepper in very large serving bowl (I like to use a wooden salad bowl). Using a pestle, fork or wooden spoon, crush mixture until paste forms.
Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Transfer pasta to bowl with garlic mixture. Add 1/3 cup oil and 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid; toss. Add zucchini, walnuts, 1/2 cup cheese, basil, and mint; toss. Season with pepper, adding more pasta cooking liquid if mixture is dry. Drizzle with additional oil. Serve with remaining cheese.
(adapted from this Epicurious recipe.)
*all photos by Buff Strickland.