I guess you could say this dish is my take on a Southern-Italian fusion. This is a quick pasta dish I whipped up for my sister last night for a light summer time meal. This pasta is also a great new way to use up all of that extra squash and zucchini you have. I’m always amazed how much a squash and zucchini plant can produce.
I called this dish “Southern” because here in the South we like our squash fried. I toss my squash and zucchini in a little seasoned flour dredge then shallow fry them in my trusty cast iron skillet in about a ¼ inch of olive oil until golden brown. Be sure to make extra of these mouth watering, crispy, little bites of fried squash and zucchini because you will not be able to resist the temptation to snack on them while you prepare the pasta sauce.
The sauce for this pasta cooks in a flash and packs quite a punch in the flavor department with sautéed onion, fresh basil, and a little kick from red pepper flakes, black pepper and garlic. Toss in the hot pasta and add the salty parmigiano reggiano cheese and then this sauce is all brought together by little of the reserved starchy pasta water. Voila, instant pasta sauce. Here’s my little secret… The best part of this sauce is it’s all done in the same seasoned cast iron skillet that the squash and zucchini was fried in. Oh so good! There’s a reason cast iron skillets are family heirlooms.
This is a great dish to make for any of your vegetarian friends and the carnivores will not be disappointed either! I hope you enjoy this pasta dish and it becomes one of your summer time favorites.
Mel’s “Southern” Italian Summer Squash Pasta
1 Yellow Summer Squash, cut in 1-inch cubes.
1 Zucchini Squash, cut in 1-inch cubes
2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 medium sized Onion, chopped
1 Bunch of fresh Basil, roughly chopped
1lb of Fettuccini Pasta
1 cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Seasoned Flour Dredge:
¼ cup all purpose flour
¾ teaspoon black pepper
¾ teaspoon onion powder
¾ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prep all the veggies.
Pre-Heat a large cast iron skillet with about ¼ inch of olive oil, over medium high heat.
Toss the chopped squash and zucchini with a tablespoon of olive oil.
Mix up all of the ingredients for the flour dredge in a small paper sack or a zip top plastic bag. Drop in all of the chopped zucchini and squash, close the bag and shake until everything is well coated with the seasoned flour.
Shake off any excess flour then in small batches in a single layer place the zucchini and squash carefully in the hot oil. Flip them over once they have turned golden brown and fry on the other side. Once browned, remove from the pan and place on some paper towels to drain off excess oil. Sprinkle a little pinch of salt over the squash and zucchini pieces while they are still hot. Repeat until you have fried all the pieces of squash and zucchini.
After you have fried all the squash and zucchini pieces drain the excess oil out of the cast iron skillet and carefully wipe clean with a paper towel. Then add in ½ cup of fresh olive oil.
Drop the pasta in the boiling salted water. Cook the pasta to al-dente, according to the package directions.
In the same cast iron skillet sauté the chopped onion until tender, then add in the minced garlic, half the chopped basil and the red pepper flakes with a small pinch of salt. Cook until fragrant, over low heat.
Once the pasta is done reserve 2 cups of the pasta water then toss the pasta directly into the cast iron skillet with the onions, garlic, basil, and red pepper flakes. Immediately top the hot pasta with ¾ of the grated parmigiano reggiano cheese and give everything a good toss. Then add one cup of the reserved pasta water and 15- 20 cracks of fresh black pepper tossing again until everything is well combined. If the pasta looks a little dry add in a little more of the pasta water. Add in the remaining basil and all of the fried zucchini and squash. Toss well to combine then serve in a big bowl topped with the remaining grated parmigiano reggiano cheese.