Zucchini-and-Fennel Pasta

A  perfect pairing of seasoned crisp-tender zucchini and fennel makes a good mix with curly pasta.


  • 1 pound curly-edged, long-cut pasta, such as long fusilli or mafalde
  • About 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1 small bulb fennel—a handful of feathery fronds reserved and the bulb trimmed, quartered, cored and very thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 pound small, firm zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on an angle crosswise
  • 1 red chile, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fennel pollen or fennel seeds
  • Juice of 1 lemon, plus 1 teaspoon grated peel
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded or torn
  • Freshly grated Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • 1/3 pound ricotta salata cheese, crumbled


Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a ladleful of the pasta cooking water.

While the pasta is working, in a large skillet, heat the EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, over medium heat. Add the anchovies to melt into the oil completely, 2-3 minutes. Add the fennel bulb, zucchini, chile, garlic, fennel pollen or seeds and lemon peel; cook until crisp-tender, 5-6 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and the reserved pasta cooking water. Add the pasta and toss to combine; mix in the basil.

Serve the pasta in shallow bowls. Top with lots of fennel fronds, the Pecorino-Romano and ricotta salata.

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