The contrast of delicate pasta with crispy batons of fried zucchini is sensational. This is not a difficult dish to make, just ensure you start with small zucchini, not watery ones.
750g (a good 1½ lb)small, firm zucchini (courgettes) Salt ½ cup standard flour Olive oil Freshly ground black pepper to taste 2 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 1 Tbsp chopped marjoram 500g (about 1 lb) dried egg pasta such as fettuccine 50g (1¾ oz) butter Handful of small basil leaves ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra for grating
1 Cut the zucchini into fat matchsticks. Put them in a colander and toss with 1 teaspoon of salt. Drain for 1 hour, then gently squeeze to push out as much water as possible. Wrap zucchini sticks in paper towels and gently rub them dry.
2 Put half the flour in a small clean bag, add half the zucchini sticks and toss until coated with flour. Have ready a frying pan with hot olive oil to a depth of 5mm set over a medium-high heat. When the oil is nice and hot, drop in the zucchini. Cook quickly until golden on both sides, then transfer zucchini to a cake rack set over a tray to drain. Sprinkle with a little salt and grind on some pepper. Repeat the process for the remaining zucchini. Add the garlic to the pan for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking, and cook until it is a pale golden colour, then scatter the marjoram over. Transfer to the rack with the rest of the zucchini.
3 Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente; if using dried pasta, put it into the water once you’ve cooked the first batch of zucchini but, if using fresh pasta, which cooks more quickly, put it in the water when the second half of the zucchini is nearly cooked.
4 Drain the pasta, then turn it into a hot serving bowl. Mix the butter, basil, black pepper to taste and the parmesan through the pasta. Toss quickly, then top with the zucchini. Toss briefly and serve immediately.