Thursday, August 27, 2015

RECIPE: Zucchini Pesto

Difficulty Level: Easy
3/4 cup blanched almonds (4 1/2 ounces)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
Pinch of crushed red pepper
3 medium zucchini (1 1/2 pounds), half of 1 zucchini cut into matchsticks and the remainder chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
Black pepper
1 pound pasta
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano (4 ounces), plus more for serving
1/2 cup chopped mint, plus more for garnish (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden. Let cool, then coarsely chop. Reserve 1/4 cup for garnish.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the chopped zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Scrape the zucchini into a food processor and add the remaining 1/2 cup of chopped almonds; pulse to combine. With the machine on, slowly add the remaining 6 tablespoons of oil until combined but still slightly chunky. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.

In a pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain. Off the heat, return the pasta to the hot pot and add the reserved pasta water, the pesto, zucchini matchsticks, lemon zest, 1 1/2 cups of cheese and 1/2 cup of mint. Stir until well combined and saucy. Transfer the pasta to bowls. Garnish with mint (if using) and the reserved almonds.

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