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Rach makes a quick + simple spicy spaghetti with zucchini and lemon that comes together fast—her secret ingredient? 'Nduja, a.k.a. Calabrian sausage paste. Rach likes to use La Quercia 'Nduja or Tempesta 'Nduja.
For a vegetarian adaptation, instead of the 'nduja, whisk up 2 tablespoons Calabrian chili paste (a jarred product widely available in large markets or online) with ½ to ¾ cup boiling pasta water.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 3 medium zucchini (or 10 to 12 baby), thinly sliced on a bias or cut with a mandolin (for medium zucchini, halve lengthwise and remove seeds with spoon before slicing)
- 1 preserved lemon, trim the cheeks and very thinly slice, discard membrane and seeds, OR the zest of a lemon and juice of ½ lemon
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or chopped
- ¼ to ⅓ cup 'nduja (Calabrian or Calabrian-style sausage paste, domestic or imported — Rach likes La Quercia or Tempesta), or 4 to 5 ounces
- 2 tablespoons Calabrian chili paste (for vegetarian preparation)
- 1 pound spaghetti or lemon spaghetti
- About 1 cup loosely packed chopped herbs, such as mint, parsley and small leaves of basil
- 1 cup loosely packed grated pecorino (sheep's milk) and/or Parmigiano-Reggiano (cow's milk) cheese
Heat a large pot of water to boil for pasta, 4 to 5 quarts.
Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add EVOO, 3 turns of the pan, add zucchini and season with salt, lightly brown 3 to 4 minutes, add preserved lemon or zest of 1 lemon and garlic, toss and reduce heat by half.
Place 'nduja in a bowl and add about ¾ to 1 cup of boiling water from the pasta pot, whisk to loosen the sausage paste and create a spicy sauce or bath for the pasta. For a vegetarian preparation, whisk a couple of tablespoons of Calabrian chili paste with boiling water.
Salt the boiling water and add the pasta. Cook the pasta 1 minute less than pasta cooking time on package, reserve another ½ cup water, then drain, add to zucchini along with herbs and cheese and spicy liquid. Use a splash or 2 of the water if the pasta gets too tight or dry while tossing to combine.