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Zucchini-and-Fennel Pasta

October 2010
Zucchini-and-Fennel Pasta

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This dish is based on my filling andflavoring for zucchini flowers. I stuffthem with anchovies and ricotta, thencoat them in breadcrumbs mixed withfennel pollen and pecorino-romano.Fennel pollen is a spice harvestedfrom the flowers on a fennel plantitsflavor is like an intensely sweet versionof fennel seed (you can order it fromkalustyans.com).

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients
  • 1 pound curly-edged, long-cut pasta, such as long fusilli or mafalde
  • About 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1 small bulb fennela handful of feathery fronds reserved and the bulb trimmed, quartered, cored and very thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 pound small, firm zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on an angle crosswise
  • 1 red chile, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fennel pollen or fennel seeds
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus 1 teaspoon grated peel
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded or torn
  • Freshly grated pecorino-romano cheese
  • 1/3 pound ricotta salata cheese, crumbled
Directions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a ladleful of the pasta cooking water.
  2. While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the anchovies to melt into the oil completely, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the fennel bulb, zucchini, chile, garlic, fennel pollen or seeds and lemon peel; cook until crisp-tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and the reserved pasta cooking water. Add the pasta and toss to combine; mix in the basil.
  3. Serve the pasta in shallow bowls. Top with lots of fennel fronds, the pecorino-romano and ricotta salata.