zSo it’s the end of a long hot summer – you really don’t want to cook but have a craving for pasta. Bucatini, sometimes referred to as Perciatelli has been a favorite of mine since childhood. The cylindrical spaghetti like tubes of about 10 to 12 inches in length have a tiny hole, or buco, running through them. Bucatini with Zucchini, Lemon & Pecorino combines lengths of raw zucchini, lemon, fresh herbs and sharp pecorino to create a simple yet flavorful pasta dish, ideal for entertaining a crowd.
Zucchini is prolific this time of year; just wander through neighborhood gardens, the local supermarket and of course the farmer’s market. If you have ever had a backyard vegetable patch and hosted a zucchini plant, you know only too well that one day a delicate blossom appears then suddenly a monster of a zucchini emerges; let me be clear – this is not the zucchini to use when preparing Bucatini with Zucchini, Lemon & Pecorino. Select smaller zucchini about 6 to 8 inches in length with shiny unblemished green skin; often the base of the squash will reveal dried remnants of the original flower.
This dish is as straightforward as putting a large pot of water to boil while you organize the other ingredients. The trick to preparing the raw zucchini is to slice it 1/4 inch thick lengthwise before cutting the slices into strips. A brief salting of the zucchini strips rids them of any excess water that would diminish the flavor of the finished pasta dish. Essentially, grating the pecorino, juicing a lemon and preparing some fresh herbs is all that is left to do.
Bucatini with Zucchini, Lemon and Pecorino can be served immediately or sit at room temperature to present as a side or pasta salad. Whatever you decide, this dish provides the host the gift of freedom to enjoy the party.
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- 1 pound of bucatini dried pasta
- 6 small zucchini thinly sliced lengthwise and then sliced into ¼ inch strips
- 1 Tbs. Kosher salt, plus additional for the pasta water
- 4 to 5 fresh zucchini blossoms, sliced lengthwise into strips
- ½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup of freshly grated Pecorino cheese and more for passing
- Place the prepared zucchini strips in a colander set over a large bowl or in a clean kitchen sink. Sprinkle the 1 tablespoon of kosher salt over the zucchini and mix thoroughly with your hands. Allow the salted zucchini to sit for 10 minutes. After ten minutes, rinse with cool water, gently squeeze dry, then lay on a clean cotton towel to absorb any residual water.
- Fill a large pot with cold water, cover and place on the burner, turn the flame to high.
- Select a serving bowl to accommodate the pasta and zucchini. Add the 2 Tbs. of lemon juice, ¼ cup of the extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper and ½ cup of the Pecorino to the serving bowl; mix together thoroughly. Add the prepared zucchini strips and stir well to combine.
- Once the pot of water comes to a roaring boil, add a handful of Kosher salt along with the one pound of bucatini pasta, give the pasta a good strong stir and bring the pot back to a boil. Cook the pasta for 3 minutes less than the package directions recommend; for example the pasta brand I used suggested 12 minutes, however I removed the pasta from the water at the 9 minute mark.
- Add the drained pasta to the serving bowl at once, combining with the sauce using the help of the tongs. Add the mint, parsley, and zucchini blossoms and gently combine. Top by drizzling the remaining ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil and ½ cup of grated Pecorino, give the pasta a light turn. If you prefer the pasta to be a bit more "saucy" add a ladle of the pasta water.
- The Bucatini is ready to serve or may be presented at room temperature. Accompany the dish with additional Pecorino. *the finished pasta dish is not salted as Pecorino is an especially salty cheese, naturally if you would like to add additional salt please do.