Rating: 4.5 stars 4.6
51 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 39
  • 4 star values: 6
  • 3 star values: 5
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 0

After listening to Stanley Tucci lose his mind about this pasta and calling it life-changing and one of the best things he's ever eaten, I decided I'd give it a try. The results were amazing and the key to getting the toasted sweet taste of the zucchini was deep-frying it!

Recipe Summary

20 mins
35 mins
8 hrs
8 hrs 55 mins
2 servings

I get a fair number of video ideas watching food travel television shows. During these productions, it's not uncommon for the host to heap praise on the local offerings, but Stanley Tucci (in his new show, Searching for Italy) took this to another level, calling the dish, "life changing," "unbelievable," and "one of the best things I've ever eaten." I love a good vegetable-based pasta, so I decided to give this a try. But there was one small problem: It requires the zucchini to be deep-fried first.

I'm certainly not against deep-frying and have posted many videos featuring the technique, but if there's a way to make a recipe without forcing someone to set up a fry station in there kitchen, I always try to figure out what that is. This time, there was no way. I tried to broil, bake, and pan fry, but none of the methods worked as well as the "authentic" cooking method shown in the show, which was to fry the sliced zucchini in sunflower oil until golden brown.

Please trust me when I tell you that the results are well worth the effort. This really was a truly amazing spaghetti, and while I've sauced pasta with zucchini before, I'd never done so by frying it first, and I was sort of shocked what a difference it makes. So, whether you need to go to the market to buy your summer squash or you're a gardener and have way more than you can ever use, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

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Original recipe yields 2 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place sunflower oil in a deep fryer and heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Slice zucchini into 1/8-inch rounds.

  • Add some zucchini to the hot oil and deep-fry until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a single layer on paper towels to drain and repeat to cook remaining zucchini. Let zucchini cool to room temperature.

  • Transfer cooled zucchini to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate, 8 hours to overnight.

  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally, until it's 2 minutes away from being tender yet firm to the bite, 9 to 10 minutes.

  • As you are cooking the spaghetti, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to release juices, soften, and break down, 3 to 5 minutes. Add a couple splashes of the pasta water to the zucchini, but don't overdo it. Break zucchini into small pieces with the edge of a spoon or spatula. Reduce heat to low and toss in basil and butter; stir until butter melts.

  • Grab spaghetti with tongs and transfer it right into the sauce; stir until coated. Mix in Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses. Add a final splash of pasta water and adjust salt if needed.

  • Serve with more grated cheese and fresh basil.

Chef's Notes:

Use any zucchini from your garden, different types and sizes are fine.

If your deep fryer is small, you can use a Dutch oven instead and fry more at a time.

You can add a clove of minced garlic when making the sauce if you want.

Use grated Provolone del Monoco cheese if you can find it. I used 1/2 Parmesan cheese and 1/2 Toma cheese.

Editor's Note:

We have determined the nutritional value of oil for frying based on a retention value of 10% after cooking. Amount will vary depending on cooking time and temperature, ingredient density, and specific type of oil used.

Nutrition Facts

1016 calories; protein 23.3g; carbohydrates 62.5g; fat 78.1g; cholesterol 56.5mg; sodium 479.3mg. Full Nutrition