This is one of those things that looks a bit daft on paper, but is surprisingly good, and rather easy to cook. A fairly minimal sauce like this will show off or be let down by the pasta, so I’d get some of the fancy artisanal stuff, like giant penne.
Do not chicken out on the garlic.
To feed four as a main, you will need:
- 500g dried pasta
- 800g zucchini, courgettes if you must, washed and scrubbed, but certainly not peeled
- 4 level teaspoons chilli flakes (peperoncino)
- 16 large cloves of garlic
- 100g butter
- 4tsp balsamic vinegar
- loads of Parmesan
In a large pan, fry the chilli flakes in a little groundnut oil for about a minute, whilst you’re peeling and slicing up the garlic. Add the garlic and keep frying for another minute or two, until the garlic starts to colour. Whilst that’s happening, shred the zucchini using the rough end of a cheesegrater, being careful not to catch yourself on the sharp spines. Add the zucchini, the butter, the balsamic, a pinch of salt and a generous grind of black pepper. It will need around ten minutes on a medium heat, stirring from time to time. The zucchini will lose bulk as it yields up some of its water, and the mixture will get a little sticky and threaten to catch. This is good, but don’t let it actually catch or go brown.
Meanwhile, you’re doing the pasta. You’re a grownup, so you can work out how long the pasta will take and count backwards, so the pasta is done at the point the sauce is done. Reserve a cup of the cooking water, and then drain the pasta, and stir furiously into the zucchini mix, maybe loosening up with a splash of the reserved cooking water.
Serve with the aforementioned loads of parmesan.