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Lemony Pasta with Zucchini and Fresh Herbs

This simple pasta comes together quickly and makes use of zucchini which is in abundance this week at Dandenong Market. Browning the zucchini in two batches is the only semi-fussy request and it pays off by giving the zucchini an almost crunchy texture.

Lemon and an abundance of fresh herbs provide brightness to this soon-to-be summer staple. Serve it with a tomato and onion salad dressed with plenty of grassy olive oil.

INGREDIENTS

500 grams fusilli or other short curvy pasta
750 grams zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 cm thick pieces
Salt and black pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
½ cup grated Pecorino or grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1 ½ cups roughly chopped herbs, such as mint, basil, chervil, Italian parsley, plus more for garnish
Flaky salt, for serving (optional)

 

PREPARATION

Bring a large pot of well-salted water (two heaped tablespoons salt to about one litre to a boil.) Add pasta and cook until it is just under al dente, one minute less than package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, prepare the zucchini. Season chunks with salt and pepper. Heat three tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the zucchini in one layer (you may need to do this in two batches) and cook undisturbed until it begins to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes.

Flip and cook two to three minutes more. Remove from the pan and set aside. 

Taste and season again, if necessary.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and cook until the garlic becomes translucent about 30 seconds. Add the squash back to the pan along with lemon juice and half the lemon zest. Toss to combine.

Add the pasta to the frying pan and toss to combine. Add a 1/4 cup of the pasta water and the grated cheese and toss until the cheese emulsifies and is silky. If needed, add an additional 1/4 cup pasta water or more to loosen.

Add the fresh herbs and toss again. Top with additional herbs and the remaining lemon zest. Serve in bowls and pass grated cheese at the table. Season with flaky salt, if desired.

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