Nicola Galloway: Zucchini Spaghetti with Chilli & Garlic


A simple yet delicious way to tackle a zucchini glut.

Summer growth is at full steam ahead. Everything was a little delayed in my valley garden, but now the weather has settled into the long hot days they love. We are enjoying regular harvests of zucchini, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and basil all making regular appearances on the dinner table.

Zucchini, aka courgette, is one of those magical plants where a few days left unchecked and the fruit grows with gusto. Add a sprinkle of rain, which we have been enjoying a few times a week, and what was previously a small fruit has grown into a large vegetable. And you have to be quick to get them before they turn to a marrow.

I don’t mind zucchini on the larger size, the stage before their skin thickens and the seeds form. Homegrown is about taking our sights off the uniform supermarket sized produce and embracing what we have on hand. Starting a meal from the basis of ‘what do I have to cook?’. Rather than that I am going to make this and shop accordingly. A style of cooking that brings more creativity to the kitchen.

The recipe I share below, is one I have been making quite a bit this summer. A meal even my zucchini-adverse children enjoy. As the zucchini and a few prized kamokamo pile up on the kitchen bench, I often make it as a lunch for two. It comes together in 30 minutes and makes a dent (albeit a small one) in the growing zucchini harvest.

Zucchini Spaghetti with Chilli, Garlic & Basil

This is as simple as it gets. A large zucchini left a few days too long on the vine, finely chopped and cooked until tender and caramelised. The result is a chunky sauce to twirl through spaghetti. Garlic, chilli and fresh basil complete the dish, which besides a few pantry essentials, is a meal gifted from the summer garden.

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The magic happens here with the slow cooking of the zucchini until it’s moisture has evaporated and the flesh caramelises. With the assistance of a good slosh of olive oil and managing the heat is key. Too high and the zucchini will catch and burn, too low it will stew. On my stovetop I use a low to medium heat but this may need to be adjusted depending on your stove’s elements. Use your senses, cued by the sizzling sound and change in colour to guide you here.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1 large zucchini or kamokamo, about 500g
¼ cup olive oil + extra for drizzling
salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, chopped
½ tsp chilli flakes (or to taste)
160g dried spaghetti (around 80g per person)
handful fresh basil, chopped
grated parmesan to serve

METHOD

First prepare the zucchini to sauté while the pasta is cooking. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise and thinly slice.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a moderate to low heat. Add the zucchini and season well with salt and pepper. Sauté over the heat – see note above – stirring often for 20-25 minutes until the zucchini has softened and caramelised.

Add the garlic and chilli and cook for another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti. Boil the water in a kettle and fill a large saucepan with around 3 litres of boiling water. Add 1 teaspoon of salt followed by the spaghetti. Keep at a rapid boil and cook for around 8 minutes until the pasta is al-dente. Drain in a colander, retaining about ½ cup of the cooking water.

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Add the drained spaghetti to the sautéed zucchini along with a splash of the cooking water. Add the chopped basil and use tongs to combine. Twirl the zucchini spaghetti into bowls, drizzle with olive oil and serve with grated parmesan.

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