The ways we love to eat zucchini are numerous—sliced thin and served raw, halved and grilled, cut into coins and sautéed, just to name a few—but one of our favorite ways to enjoy this versatile squash is grated and slowly cooked in olive oil. The zucchini turns sweet and silky with a lusciously tender texture ideal for tossing with pasta.
In this weeknight-ready dish, lots of garlic and briny anchovies provide the perfect foil for the sweetness of peak-season summer squash. But, wait...it gets better. Everything is finished with crispy, crunchy, lemony hot pepper breadcrumbs, adding a burst of heat and freshness that'll keep you coming back bite after bite.
Recipe, food styling and photography by Asha Loupy
This recipe was originally published June 2019.
Bring a large pot of abundantly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, according to the package, until just al dente.
While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, make the zucchini and anchovy sauce. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the extra virgin olive oil and the garlic and cook until the garlic just starts to turn golden brown, about 45 seconds to a minute. Add the chopped anchovies and continue to cook for another 30 seconds. Add the zucchini and stir to coat in the garlic, anchovy and olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the zucchini is tender and cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and keep warm until the pasta is cooked.
While the zucchini is cooking, make the hot pepper breadcrumbs. Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and hot peppers to the skillet and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium and add the breadcrumbs and salt and stir to coat the breadcrumbs in the spicy olive oil mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the breadcrumbs turn golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer the toasted hot pepper breadcrumbs to a small bowl, stir in the lemon zest and set aside.
To finish the pasta, drain the cooked pasta, reserving 1 1/2 cups of pasta water. Increase the heat under the zucchini to medium high and add the cooked pasta and a 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water, tossing to coat the pasta in the sauce. Continue to cook until the pasta is al dente, about 1-2 minutes, adding more pasta water a quarter cup at a time if the sauce appears too dry.
To serve, transfer the pasta to a serving bowl or indidivdual bowls and sprinkle with half of the reserved hot pepper breadcrumbs. Serve the rest of the breadcrumbs alongside the pasta at the table.