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Fusilli with Zucchini Sauce

I’m not sure why, exactly, but we got zucchini in the CSA box this week.  Since the farmers seem to be looking forward to summer, I thought I’d preview it too.  This deliciously sweet, summery sauce was just the thing.  Next time, though, I’d double the amount of zucchini the recipe called for, and increase the bechamel base accordingly.

Recipe

Source: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

1 lb. zucchini (I’d double it, though)
1/3 c. milk (I ended up using more like 1/2 c. and if you double the zucchini you’ll need to double the milk)
1 tsp. flour (if you double the milk, double the flour)
1 egg yolk (if you double the milk, you might want to use two egg yolks)
3 tbs. butter (double if you double the milk)
2/3 c. chopped parsley or basil (I used parsley and it was delicious)
1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 c. freshly grated romano cheese
salt (I used about 1/2 tsp. + 3-4 tbs. for the pasta water)
1 lb. pasta (fusilli is what the recipe recommends, it was good, but I think this would be fabulous on fresh fettucine, too)
vegetable oil (I like to grapeseed because it has many of the healthy properties of olive oil but is flavorless and can stand up to high temperatures)

Clean the zucchini thoroughly, cut off the ends and cut the zucchinis in half the short way (so you end up w/pieces about 3 inches long).  Julienne the zucchini (cut it into little strips about 1/8 in. x 1/8 in. x 3 in. ).  Put 1/2 in. of oil in a large frying pan and heat over high heat.  Pat the zucchini as dry as you can with paper towels then fry the strips.  Don’t put too many in the frying pan at once or you’ll cool the oil down too much and have a greasy, soggy mess.  I have a 12 in. frying pan.  I did 1 lb. of zucchini in 3 batches and that seemed to work pretty well.  When the zucchini starts to turn a pale gold color, lift it out of the oil and spread it out on some paper towel to drain.  You can do the zucchini a couple of hours ahead if you want to.

Whisk together the flour and milk, making sure to break up any lumps of flour as best you can.  Beat the egg yolk with a fork.  If you’re using boxed pasta, put it on to cook in well salted water (if you’re using fresh, it cooks so fast you’ll want to get the sauce going first – I’d put the pasta in about the same time you put the zucchini in to the pan with the milk mixture).  About 5 minutes before the pasta is going to be done, melt 2 tbs. of the butter in a large frying pan on medium heat.  Once it has melted and the foam starts to subside stir in the milk mixture a little at a time.  It should end up quite thick and creamy.  Add a generous pinch (I used more like 1/2 tsp.) Put the fried zucchini strips in and stir to coat with the milk mixture.  If the milk mixture has cooked down so much that it doesn’t thoroughly combine with the zucchini, add a little more milk.  Take the pan off the heat and add the rest of the butter.  Once it has started to incorporate add the egg yolk and stir vigorously.  When you add the egg yolk, try to pour it on the zucchini and avoid pouring it directly onto the pan surface.  This will help decrease the chance that it will curdle.

Drain the pasta and toss it with the zucchini mixture.  Mix in the parsley and cheese.  Enjoy.

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