pasta and fried zucchini salad Recipes

pasta and fried zucchini salad

Every time I make an Ottolenghi recipe, I become convinced that he has finally lost his mind. Really, turmeric, black sesame seeds and parmesan together? Three tablespoons of fresh oregano? A full half-cup of tahini? And as my anxiety grows — you see, I, too, understand the bubble of time, ingredients and trust that we invest into new recipes, which, when popped, leads to the kind of frustration that can only be righted with a scalding review — I wonder if this will be it, the day I finally make an Ottolenghi recipe that’s just plain off. And, without fail, we sit down to something so spectacular in a way I hadn’t even considered before, I’m in awe of his talent and relieved that I ignored every instinct not to follow his recipe faithfully.

pasta, buffalo mozzarella, vinegar, oil, zucchini, lemon, capers, parsley, basil
strozzapreti

This was no different. It looks like a basic pesto pasta, doesn’t it? But it’s not really. Sure, there’s basil and olive oil. But it lacks the other ingredients of pesto genovese — garlic, toasted pignoli and parmesan. Instead, basil is blended with flat-leaf parsley, and the zest of a whole lemon, tablespoons of capers and torn chunks of fresh mozzarella are stirred in. The star of the show is three zucchini, cut into thin discs, fried until golden and then soaked in a bit of red wine vinegar to make something that’s neither crisp nor chip-like nor pickled but more intruiguing than all three. And then there’s the edamame, yes, the soybeans popular in East Asian dishes, here in a pasta-pesto combo. I couldn’t do it! It was too strange to me and I became bent on securing fresh shelling peas, which I think would be fantastic here, only to leave the Greenmarket in a pout (likely because I was still carrying 10+ pounds of things I hadn’t intended to buy, as always) because they’re not in yet.

zucchini in thin slices

this photo needs audio
fried zucchini
dousing fried zucchini with red wine vinegar
blending basil, parsley and oil

Now, I know that not everyone is keen on frying vegetables for a weeknight dinner. But, I would argue that it’s the easiest way to do this. Roasting a zillion thin discs would take forever, and never come out so evenly brown. And — does anyone else do this? — at least according to my measuring cup, the zucchini absorbed all of a single tablespoon of oil in the frying process. Considering how much I’d use for roasting or sauteeing, I’d consider this a good deal.

torn mozzarella, basil, fried zucchini, capers, zest

The resulting dish was one of the best things we’ve eaten in a while, a glorious green, complex and vegetal summer pasta dish that I kicked myself for suggesting that my husband take the leftovers to work, in case you were wondering if I’m actually a nice person. I mean, sometimes I am? Just not with Ottolenghi leftovers, it seems.

ottolenghi's pasta and fried zucchini salad

Two years ago: Broccoli Parmesan Fritters
Three years ago: Dobos Torte
Four years ago: Strawberry-Ricotta Graham Tartlets
Five years ago: Pickled Sugar Snap Peas
Six years ago: Breakfast Apricot Crisp
Seven years ago: La Vignarola (Spring Vegetable Stew)

Pasta and Fried Zucchini Salad
Adapted, barely, from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Serves 4

Salt and black pepper
2/3 cup sunflower or safflower oil, or any type of oil you like for deep-frying
3 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Salt
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3/4 cup frozen edamame or peas, fresh or frozen
2 cups basil leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
9 ounces strozzapreti or penne pasta
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons capers (or more to taste; my husband votes for 2)
7 ounces buffalo mozzarella, torn into chunks

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

While you’re waiting, in a medium saucepan or skillet, heat sunflower oil over medium-high heat. Fry zucchini slices in batches for about 3 to 4 minutes, flipping once, until golden on both sides. [Update to add: If your zucchini isn’t browning right away, bump up the heat until it does in just a few minutes.] Drain in colander, shaking with a couple pinches of salt, then transfer to a large bowl and pour vinegar on top. Set aside.

In the hot water, cook edamame for 3 minutes, frozen peas for 3 to 4 minutes, or fresh peas for 1 to 2 minutes (to taste). Drain and run cool water over until lukewarm. Set aside to dry. Leave pot boiling, then cook pasta until al dente in it. Drain and rinse under cold water.

Combine half of basil and all of the parsley and olive oil in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth, then season with salt and pepper.

Transfer pasta back to empty pot. Add fried zucchini and any juices, basil-parsley oil, edamame or peas, lemon zest, capers and mozzarella. Stir gently together, then season generously with salt and pepper. Right before you serve it, stir in remaining basil leaves.

Do ahead: Assembled dish keeps in the fridge for at least a day, or so I hear.

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219 comments on pasta and fried zucchini salad

  1. Ha, I feel exactly the same about many of his recipes and even when I’ve eaten at his restaurants. I’ve learnt now you just have to trust the man – he knows what tastes good. I somehow have missed this recipe in Plenty (!) but absolutely love the sound of it and will be making it asap.

  2. Amy

    I love that the big pot is actually used for 3 steps of the prep, and that it’s not necessary to dirty up everything in the kitchen. Thank you–I will try this one soon!

  3. Vanessa

    This is timely–I was just looking at the recipe for green couscous on the page after this salad. Glad to have your review –perhaps I will make this instead!

  4. Deanna

    I do the same thing with his recipes. I read them and think “there’s no way”. Then I make it and yup. It’s perfect. I even get out measuring spoons for his recipes which I never do for savory recipes. My mom has more zucchini plants than one person needs so I will have to make this for her next time I’m at her house.

  5. annabanana662002

    Do ahead: Assembled dish keeps in the fridge for at least a day, or so I hear.
    ….Maybe last one day! Recipe sounds fantastic

  6. This looks amazing and I’m not sure I would make it through this whole recipe because fried zucchinis are one of my most favorite things in the world and they would be gone before I got a chance to pair them with pasta!

  7. Wow, this looks SO right for the first scorching hot summer weekend over here in Germany. I love it. We do a pasta & zucchini salad regularly, with a mustardy red wine vinegar dressing and lots of onions – your Ottolenghi version will be a nice addition to the repertoire with its fresher notes. Thanks Deb!

  8. Leah

    Well-taken warnings about time and even browning aside, would the zucchini-parmesan crisps (from last September) work here, do you think?

  9. I find zucchini such a borrowing vegetable, I’d never consider this. But I think eggplant could be wonderful as a substitute. Definitely goes on the to try list.

  10. I absolutely love Ottolenghi’s books. He is certainly not a man of simplicity, but his flavor combinations are like nothing I’ve ever tasted. I’ve been meaning to try this recipe – thank you for the inspiration to take the extra effort and attempt this! It looks so delicious.

  11. Ahhh this looks so good. I’ve had the same instincts about some of Ottolenghi’s recipes (especially the huge amount of tahini he adds to hummus), but then they always turn out so wonderfully!

    I hope to try this out, despite my fiancée’s skepticism with zucchini, especially because I have a newfound love of capers and I want to put them in everything this summer!

  12. aretephora

    So, this is to be served room temperature or cold (like a traditional pasta salad), not warmed up (like traditional pasta)?

  13. Lauren

    I think I will have to double the squash. That’s the only way I will be able to eat the fried squash ( that photo is sinful) AND have the correct amount for the pasta salad. Maybe that’s the only way to see if it lasts a day in the fridge… and I will be going back to the Cauliflower thingy too…That man is amazing, what talented taste buds.

  14. Isabel

    I LOVE this recipe!! made it last summer. I agree – everything in Ottolenghi books is genius. I feel the same way about the Moosewood cookbooks. YAY

  15. Richelle

    Looks delicious.. Can’t wait to try it. Every recipe I’ve made from you I love. Thanks for all your insight and amazing food.

  16. Kat

    Oh, this looks awesome for these hot LA summer nights. I just got a bunch of squash in my CSA box this week — think they’ll be a suitable replacement for the zucchini?

  17. JP

    I would like to try this however I would be using regular mozzarella and either shredding it or cutting it into small chunks. Still with all these flavors, I bet the outcome would be tasty! Thanks for trying out an Ottolenghi recipe for me…I’ve read several of his books and the recipes seem almost too exotic to try for myself. This one now seems like a possibility.

  18. deb

    so, two questions:

    would this work without capers?
    it sounds, from your description, like this tastes pesto-y. I loathe both the smell and taste of pesto, but this looks interesting. so is it pesto-y or not so much?

  19. katherine

    please tell me you’ve made the spinach salad with toasted pita and almonds, and pickled dates and red onions from the Jerusalem book. best. salad. ever.

  20. Mmm zucchini. I love it, though I still can’t seem to spell it right. OK, going out on a limb here but would it be too much zucchini if I made this with zucchini noodles? Is that crazy?

  21. Omar

    Thanks for saying what you did about his recipes. After buying Plenty, I was not really drawn to make anything. I will do as you say and just trust the man. I’m breaking out the book tonight and will plan to make some items.

  22. I keep hearing about how amazing the Ottolenghi cookbook is but I think you have made the most compelling argument for it. And I like the trick with measuring how much oil it absorbed, will have to try that in the future just to know (for better or for worse).

  23. Elizabeth

    I’ve made this from the Plenty cookbook, edamame and all, and it was delicious. My husband’s vegetarian, so Plenty has been a go to book when I am looking for inspiration. The green gazpacho as well as the soba noodles with eggplant and mango are two of our favorites.

  24. Mai

    mmmph this looks amazing. Might have to make it tonight since all I’d need to get are the basil and parsley. Might add some of pickled ramps I have to it too…

  25. Carolyne

    Just made your recipe…looks and tastes wonderful. But I couldn’t find in the procedure where one should add the pesto. I stirred it into the pasta ahead of the fried zucchini and peas…was that right?

  26. Ottolenghi recipes are, for the most part, weekend recipes. I’ve found two so far (I have all 3 of the cookbooks) to be exceptions. One is the pasta with feta, peas (use frozen, shelling is a beast) yogurt and shredded basil with the chili oil pine nuts. The longest part is boiling a huge pot of water for pasta, but you can cook the peas at the same time. The second, and you’ll get such a kick out of this, is the wheat berries and chard recipe with the pomegranate molasses. Do it in your nifty pressure cooker. Twenty minutes.

    Those past few recipes? 1. You totally have a birthday coming up. Can’t wait to see what’s happening this year. 2. Those pickled sugar snap pea? So, so good.

  27. Nik

    Here’s an Italian cooking 101 tip: never rinse pasta. Ever. Nope. Don’t do it.

    When you rinse pasta, you remove that starchy outer layer that absorbs the sauce. So while you can put sauce on your rinsed pasta, the sauce won’t soak into and flavor the pasta.

  28. Victoria

    Just made it. Small suggestion. The directions don’t specifically mention to add the pesto mix to the the pot with the other items. Of course it is obvious, but I was looking for that instruction. It is resting in the fridge until dinner time, looking forward to it!!

  29. I love discovering new Ottolenghi recipes! Every time I try one I am totally blown away… but I tend to always stick to the same ones because I know how good they are! Definitely going to try this one out!
    :)

  30. Christine

    I panfry zucchini with similar results, in a cast iron pan with just enough oil to slick the bottom. For anyone who might be frying adverse like me. Otherwise? All over this. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  31. Rachel

    I’m so glad I wasn’t the only one who missed the adding the pesto! I thought I was going crazy.
    I made this tonight. It was pretty good, I didn’t add enough salt initially, so I’d recommend adding more than you think you need. I also added some red peppers to the fried veggies for color, and because I needed to use some up :)
    One tip: Be super careful when flipping the zucchini in the pan. If you squeeze the coins a bit with tongs to flip, moisture can get squeezed out, which makes the oil spatter. You mention that it’s less of a traditional pesto dish, but I think it could really benefit from some grated parm (in addition to the mozzarella, of course).
    A lovely summer pasta. Not wow-ing, but simple and tasty.

  32. Marcella from italy

    Hi Deb, I see you are using capers in vinegar, you might want to try the ones in salt the next time, as their flavor is soooooo much different (I used to hate them as my mother would only use the vinegar ones, but when I tasted the salt ones I was like – wow! :)
    I’m with the commenter who advised to never rinse pasta, but then you’ll have to toss it immediately with a slick of oil, otherwise the starch will glue everything up.

  33. I made this, but I found that the zucchini was too oily, and while the flavours were great, I was not down with the texture of this dish.

    On the other hand, I did make this with peas as I could not get the beans and it was fabulous.

  34. Jessiet

    Ah, Ottolenghi! All of us who “know” him must feel the same way. His unlikely combinations, his knack at spectacular flavors, the excitement that grows as I read his books. This does, indeed, sound quite strange, but I so trust him (and you) that I’m going to run right out and do this one. Just happen to have the appropriate pasta shape, too, fresh from Whole Foods! Keep doing what you’re doing–you’re amazing! Thank you!

  35. PippaS

    I have seen this recipe loads of times when I flick through Plenty, and always thought the same as you, Oh just another courgette -pasta salad. I have never made it, in spite of always having courgette gluts from my garden every summer. Thank you for trying it out for me and eulogising! I will give it a go. I might just go for griddling the courgette rather than frying (you know, on a hot ridged griddle) or perhaps using BBQd ones If I have some left over, just because I love the flavour and I find too much fried courgette very … slithery. That might be an idea for other posters who don’t want to fry too much.

  36. Bill

    Thanks for the dinner suggestion. It was yummy. I only got puzzled at the end of the recipe when there was no instruction for emptying the food processor!

  37. I am making this! One adaptation I will make immediately is that I will double the amount of fried zucchini because I know I will be snacking on that with a glass of wine as I prepare dinner. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. deb

      ATG — I felt similarly; I have a hard time conceptualizing it outside Asian dishes, but I know not everyone agrees. That said, I think this dish was MADE for fresh peas. And in two more weeks, when they’re in, I’m going to make it happen.

  38. How did you know that I have a bag of peas in the freezer that have been staring at me, asking me why I bought them, and I have had no good answer for them until now?

  39. Hannah

    Isn’t it true about Ottolenghi?? I remember making one of my first recipes from Plenty – Moroccan carrot salad – and laughing out loud at 2 1/2 cups of cilantro! But lo and behold, that dish has made multiple appearances in my house, and I’ve never had a bad experience from him. He also introduced me to freekeh, a unique grain I rarely see or hear about. Cheers to Yotam!

  40. Danielle S

    This recipe looks delicious. I wonder if there is a good replacement for capers. I’m allergic to them. Such a unique flavor to have to replace. I’m open to any suggestions.

  41. AJ

    Yum! Would bocconcini work in place of the buffalo mozzarella?

    p.s. Last year when I was planning the Father’s Day buffet, you gifted me the Lobster and Potato salad, and now this one’s shows up as the perfect addition to this year’s menu just in time. Don’t know how you do it, but thanks!

  42. Laura

    This was delicious!! The only change I made was throwing in dandelion green pesto that has been hanging out in my freezer, instead of making the basil oil slurry, as I refuse to pay whole foods $5 for a tiny bag of basil and I forgot to buy it at the market this week. Oh and using peas :) thank you for the recipe and tips!

  43. Nicola

    A wonderful dish! And I like the edamame – something had to be done with that bag in my freezer. My son (half child, half man) asked me where I got the recipe (mum has a life that also involves being online?!?) and then asked me if I could comment on this recipe? He has gone in search of the recipe binder I made for him four or five years ago and is determined that this one will go in there. Never too soon, or too late, to start preparing for independence and superb recipes like this one reassure him that he can recreate the meals that he loves. So cool to see what he wants to preserve. It’s like pickling memories. Thank-you.

  44. Patty Cucman

    Yum, yum, yum. Fry the capers in butter before you add them to the assembled dish. You can’t believe how wonderful they are.

  45. robinvv

    Do you think grilled zucchini would also work? I often grill on the weekend and it’d be easy to grill a few more zucchini for use later in the week.

  46. rachel

    the only recipe from plenty i’ve done that wasn’t wonderful was the rice with herbs/herbs with rice. it seemed like something i would love and the directions are so odd they seemed like they must be on point. i followed them to the letter but either missed something or they were off. curious to know if you ever try to better success, everything else has exceeded expectations, particularly the carrots/chickpeas/chard with caraway – doesn’t seem so compelling, but likely is to your flavor profile. same for lentils with burnt eggplant.

  47. ciao! just to tell you that i made it yesterday evening and we’ll have tonight at a bbq, cold. thanks for sharing! can i ask from which ottonlenghi book it comes from? or is it from his blog? thank you,
    francesca from italy

  48. The one year I don’t plant zucchini in my garden you post the most amazing looking dish involving it that I need to try right away! I guess I’ll just have to buy some (or find a neighbor with a few extra…).

  49. Jenna B.

    You are right as always, Deb. I was doubting the combination of flavors even at the last moment as I was stirring everything together, but this was so delicious! Intriguing and complex and fresh all at once. FYI – I went with the edamame even though I thought it was odd, and I would encourage you to trust Ottolenghi even on that point. They reminded me of fava beans, which I wouldn’t have thought twice about adding.

  50. Nina D

    Fried zucchini disks! Love them tossed into alia e olio — it is awesome. Makes a perfect dish perfect-er. PITA to fry the little suckers, though. Especially when people tend to wander through the kitchen and munch on them when you’re still on batch #10! This is where pointy kitchen utensils come in handy…

  51. While I did curse you a little as I sweated above the frying zucchini, I forgave you when this turned out to be possibly the most delicious thing I have ever made. I went with peas because I had them, and I could have gone heavier on lemon zest and capers. I accidentally left the remains in the pot on the stove overnight, and please forgive me when I say that I took safety into my own hands and ATE IT ANYWAY.

  52. ATG

    Then we’re on the same page regarding the edamame. But here, it’s not just the Asian thing. It’s also a texture thing. Peas, though! Totally into that.

  53. Rebecca

    Made this last night and loved it (although sadly my 2.5 y/o twins did not). My only question: is there some easy way that I am missing to get the edamame out of the boiling water while preserving the water for the pasta? That turned into a bit of an ordeal (it was too hard to fish them out, so I ended up putting a colander over another pot and pouring it out) and made me wish I’d just cooked it separately.

  54. Ottolenghi is a god! Everything I’ve made from his cookbooks has been excellent. I even try new recipes on guests if they’re his, because I know everyone will love the food!

  55. Joy

    So I made this last summer and thought the caper/edamame/mozzarella combination was pretty great. the only thing that I felt was missing was some sort of spicy/ sharp flavor. Garlic might be too strong, onions too sharp….do you know what i mean, Deb? I wanted something to cut that freshness. Maybe smashing a few garlic cloves into the hot zucchini oil would do the trick. or throwing in a couple mild jalapeños in with the zucchini to fry up a little.

  56. Anna

    Wow, this is really good! I only used one zucchini, since I don’t love them and never, ever fry things so was a little wary. But I did fry it, and it turned out to be delicious with the vinegar! I wished I’d used all three called for.

  57. vicky

    hey Deb, writing from Greece- there is a really disgusting ad popping up your site right under the first section of your entry.
    Something like “if you eat this you’ ll never have to go on diet again” and then a really disgusting picture of some hocus-pocus diet thing- it really has nothing to do with the aesthetics of your site.
    I don’t know if you can do anything about it, I just thought maybe you’d like to know.
    your recipes are great!

    1. deb

      vicky — Yikes. I’ll see about getting rid of it. It might just be showing in Greece or European markets; it’s sometimes hard to tell (I don’t see it here), not that it’s any consolation. Anyway, sorry for the grossness — it was unintended.

  58. Sarah

    Made this recipe last night and loved all the flavors. It would go into the weekly rotation except for the fact that frying that many batches of zucchini was a little time-consuming (around an hour). I felt it was missing a crunch of something though. Any ideas of things to throw in? Toasted pine nuts, maybe?

  59. Marie

    For Rebecca and others who, like me, would find it annoying to fish the peas/edamame out of the boiling water — just reverse the steps. Boil the pasta and add the peas/edamame for the last 3 or 4 minutes. Drain together, all at once. Voila, no fishing!

  60. Ale

    Mmm! I can’t wait to make this!
    As other commentators said, I do not like running cold water over pasta either. I know it is done to stop the cooking process, but I feel it changes the taste so I just toss with a bit of olive oil. This recipe reminds me of an Italian appetizer/side dish I like to make in the summer: zucchini “a scapece,” that is basically just fried zucchine, dressed with vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper, and some fresh mint. Heavenly on fresh crunchy bread!

  61. Kath the Cook

    hi – in the posted recipe I don’t see tahini listed – and in your narrative you mentioned your alarm about there being 1/2 a cup…. ??

    am I missing something ?

  62. Kate

    Hey Deb,
    Just thought I would let you know that I’m getting the same ad pop up (Re: comment 114) and I’m in Australia, if that at all helps you track it down.

  63. I made this last night and it turned out great. Deb, I agree that it is one of the best things I’ve had in a long time. I did include the edamame (just because I happened to have some) and I didn’t think they were out of place. I also roasted the zucchini because it was a busy night. That red wine vinegar does something magical to roasted/fried vegetables. I recently made a Tamar Adler recipe of roasted beets that are doused with red wine vinegar and the flavor was so unexpected and good.

  64. Hi Deb,

    Read your post today, and even though every aspect of this recipe sounded bizarre to me, decided to make it my Saturday night project. My feedback:

    1. YUM.
    2. Wow. That took soooo much longer to make than I thought it would. Thank GOD, it was delicious.
    3. Meat? (sidenote: my mother and sister forced me to eat at highly touted vegetarian restaurant 25 years ago, and it SCARRED ME. Since then, I consider non-meat dishes to be equivalent to eating ramen noodles. This was better – MUCH, MUCH, MUCH so many MUCHES better.)
    4. Everything was fresh and green and summery. But I wonder if my grocery store zucchini was up to the task. This might have soared higher with better sourced ingredients.
    5. One word: PANCETTA. I do believe everything IS better with pancetta, but this recipe especially. A meaty, bacon-y element would have been amazing here.

  65. Washington Cube

    I should preface this by saying every recipe I’ve made from your site and cookbook have been “wows.” This is the first one that just didn’t do it for me…and I thought it would. I love all of the ingredients. I don’t know why, but it took me a week to work up the time or desire to want to make this recipe. Just less than a week ago, I went to Whole Foods and got the exact pasta you used, some fresh basil with the roots on (which I kept going in water), ditto for the Italian leaf parsley. I also got my mozzarella there. The capers came from Trader Joes.

    In the interim, I went to the library and got three of Ottolenghi’s cookbooks and have been reading them since. I’m not going to write him off yet, but I thought this dish lacked a flavor boost to really make it zing and a keeper.

    I followed the recipe exactly, and I took your husband’s advice and used two tablespoons of capers, because I was already starting to question in my head just how bland this dish would taste. I also used fresh peas and, like another reader, I added them in the last few minutes of the pasta’s cooking. I had hoped between the capers, the basil and the red wine vinegar something would pop in this dish, but it just didn’t happen, and I’ve got a lot left over. I’ll probably make up a batch of red sauce, put a mixture of Italian cheeses on top and bake it over the next day or so.

    Oh well. Tomorrow I’ll make your blueberry muffins…still my all-time favorite recipe for that.

  66. Theo

    Hi, I made this recipe this weekend and the squash would not brown at all. I used vegetable oil in a cast iron pot, so i know it was hot. What went wrong?

    1. deb

      Theo — Did you try raising the heat? Cooking it longer? I can’t imagine how it would not eventually get brown but I may have missed something.

  67. Peggy

    I made this over the weekend. I’d put off trying Ottolenghi–reading his recipes makes me tired, but I gave it a go. Frying the zucchini was a bear and the mozzarella I could have done without. I wish I could have used edamame, but I’ve developed a soy allergy, so peas it was. All in all, I’m not sure it was worth the effort. Fried eggplant, always worth the effort, but not zucchini, for me. So the upshot: another excuse to go to London.

  68. Susan

    I really enjoyed this salad. It’s citrusy, herb-iness was a lovely combination. It is probably one of the few salads that features the flavors of the produce without attempting to boost the flavor with the use of onion or garlic as so many salads seem to do when using delicately flavored vegetables. Don’t get me wrong, I love them both, but not everything needs to have those flavors. The pesto was enough and the citrus gave it all the boost it needed. I will make this. again.

  69. Michelle Andrizzi

    Made this yesterday & it was exceptional. Once you have everything laid out, the recipe is quite simple. Really superb flavors.

  70. Laura

    I did really enjoy this dish, and have happily eaten it for lunch each of the past three days. (Cold each time. And late at night on Saturday, actually, after a very late gig when I finally had the chance to assemble the dish.)
    I liked it a lot but it had a lot of steps for me to put it in the regular rotation.
    Thanks for the deliciousness, as always!

    1. deb

      Laurie — If you’re not vegetarian, maybe some grilled sausages or a cold plate of proscuitto and some sliced salami. Plus olives, cheese. Maybe a tomato or tomato-corn salad.

  71. Christina

    I am not sure what I was doing wrong, but I could not get the zucchini to get brown!!! I fried one batch for about 15 minutes, using safflower oil at the appropriate frying temp, and no brown. It was still yummy, but I wonder what I was doing wrong?

    1. deb

      Hi Christina — It’s not just you. I was baffled by the last comment about this, but now that it’s two people, it must be a “thing.” Can you tell me more — were the zucchini especially thick or cold?

  72. Kylie

    I thoroughly enjoyed this, as did my husband and three year old and my six year old, who helped make the pesto and tear apart the mozz. It came together very easily on this Monday evening because everything can be done while you are waiting for the water to boil. We don’t eat tons of pasta so it’s kind of a treat and this did not disappoint. Thanks for yet another great recipe.

  73. Sam

    I made this [and doubled the recipe because I just KNEW I would love it!] and it did not disappoint! It did manage to sit a day in the refrigerator and it just got BETTER! Thanks for the effort Deb!

  74. I made this last night with some minor tweaks:
    1) I doubled or tripled the amount of zuchs called for (and tossed in some squash as well).
    2) After slicing said courgettes lengthwise, I grilled them because it’s summer and I’m trending on night-time grillin’ over here in Houston (head-lamp and all).
    3) I forgot the capers. Oops!
    4) I must’ve had an unconscious premonition of the aforementioned neglect because I doubled the “pesto” amount (and added most of it!).
    5) (Not a tweak) I kept the edamame because I was super curious to see how this would taste and I’m so glad I did; edamame is sturdy in a way peas might not be which means that they hold up well in the dish for left-overs the next day, and edamame has a nice nuttiness that compliments the basil/parsley pesto.

    Thanks for the post Deb, I’m going to order Ottolenghi’s book soon. Oh! And I just made the Vanilla Buttermilk Wedding Cake with Haitian Mango Curd, and Vanilla SMB this past weekend for a friend’s wedding; it was phenomenal!

    Cheers!
    Roma

  75. As for the non-browning of the zucchini, I fried mine in very hot peanut oil, and noticed that I did need to fry each batch for longer than the 4 min, flip, 4 min. To get it brown, it was more like 6-7 min, flip, 5-6 min.

  76. Jen

    Just made this. It was amazing. I had trouble with the zuichini too, I think the oil just needed to be hot enough since my zuichini was not that cold or overly wet. Even with the oil at the correct temperature I still I felt it needed at least 6-8 min. of frying on each side… But I’m also in a tiny east village aapartment, maybe my burners aren’t that powerful. Regardless, they browned with patience.
    Thanks for sharing, it was so delicious.

  77. J

    Made this last night. I thought it was fabulous. The frying went perfectly for me…must have had it on higher heat. I did notice, though, that the pesto seemed just a tad oily. Is it supposed to have that more oily finish? Or was it me not adding enough basil. Just curious. I loved the flavors together. Thanks so much?

  78. Patricia

    I made this for friends last night. I used my cheap little Kyocera mandoline set to 3mm to make the slices uniform, and they browned up very nicely and quickly, but there were a LOT of thin slices of zucchini to brown. I added a pinch of cayenne pepper—not enough to add any heat, but to accentuate other flavors. It was a hit, but wow, was labor intensive! However I will make it again, and was asked for the recipe. (I directed them to your blog. Great stuff here.)

  79. This was delicious. My husband is allergic to capers/olives, so I sprinkled some sun-dried tomatoes in. I used the fresh mozzarella from Trader Joe. This is going into the summer rotation, for sure.

  80. JT

    mmmm … great recipe! But, I really cannot follow recipes exactly except for some important things like pie crust. The attending necessary for frying didn’t work for me along, but roasting half moons of zucchini tossed with olive oil and salt+pepper till they were melty and drizzling with balsamic after sure did. Thank you!

  81. deb

    Hey all — I made this again last night in part because I finally had fresh peas and favas (wonderful here) and a ton of zucchini to use up and in part because I wanted to check again about the browning issues some have mentioned (i.e. not getting color on the zucchini when frying). It DID take longer than 3 minutes to brown on the first side, especially because this time my zucc were coming from the fridge, not straight from market where they were warm. Medium-high is relative on a lot of stoves; if you need, bump up the heat until yours are browning faster. I hope that helps. I’ll edit the recipe accordingly.

  82. AlexFS

    This was absolutely stupendous! I think I’m going to get the Kindle version of Plenty tonight. I appreciated the suggestion to turn the heat up after the first batch took a little while to brown–I’m also so tentative with hot oil after a bad beignet incident. The edamame, capers, fresh mozz, and the vinegar!!! Oh my. We’ll see how long the leftovers last.

  83. Had to add my raves to the growing list. WOW! It was delicious last night, slightly chilled, but today after an overnight in the fridge, it is incredible. Every ingredient works in concerted harmony with the others.

    Just for fun, I slipped the skins off my edamame and separated the halves of each bean — this made them more bite-sized. I also doubled the lemon zest and omitted the cheese (we’re vegan at present) and left nearly all of the basil and parsley leaves in a coarse chop. Oh, and I used gemelli, which is awfully similar to strozzapreti but twistier.

    Undoubtedly, like every job, yours must have ups and downs, but I have to say, your work has brought me so much joy over the years. I appreciate your educated voice, your relentless pursuit of perfection and your unflinching positivity. You are one of the few food celebrities who deserves every bit of her fame! From those of us who are just trying to achieve healthy culinary diversity in a reasonable amount of time, THANK YOU.

  84. Abbie

    I riffed on this recipe after finding some zucchini and parsley at the farmer’s market this morning. The notable changes were adding almonds and parmesan to the pesto, and using just a wee bit of basil (all that was ready from my plants). I left out the mozzarella, and roasted the zucchini rather than fried. I debated whether adding the capers would make or kill the dish, and it definitely made it. It was pretty good without them but very good with them, adding an unexpected briny acidity to it. I always find pesto resource intensive (so much basil!) relative to amount of pesto produced, but this was interesting enough that I may make it again before summer’s out.

  85. Tallybalt

    I am not a big fan of playing around with recipes, especially the fabulous Ottolenghi recipes (he’s amazing, isn’t he? His restaurants are a true delight to eat at and the cookbooks really did introduce me to a new and fresh approach to food).

    But when I decided to make this recipe, I did have a jar of pesto sauce in the fridge. So I used it instead of making the basil/parsley/oil puree. And it was fabulous. The blend of pesto, buffalo mozzarella, capers and fried zucchini! Amazing! I’m sure using the cheesy pesto sauce changed the balance of flavors into something sharper rather than lighter (I couldn’t taste the lemon zest, for example), so I will have to try this again following the recipe exactly, but for those of you short on time and who have pesto on hand, it’s a great shortcut.

  86. Leslie

    The zucchini was too mushy for me, and I found the dish as a whole to be far too oily. If I try this recipe in the future, I’ll cut down the amount of oil in the pesto and perhaps roast the zucchini instead of frying it.

  87. Sarah

    Just made this tonight and, after reading the mixed reviews on the dish, I found it to be surprisingly delicious. Personally, I thought the red wine vinegar and capers gave it a bit of a pop. The only thing I did differently was I didn’t add the last cup of basil, which I’m kind of glad I accidentally didn’t get enough basil, otherwise I think that extra cup would’ve been too much. I also only had regular mozzarella cheese. Other than that, I did everything just as the recipe detailed. My husband is Sicilian, so he absolutely loved the dish, especially considering how much basil, mozzarella, and capers was in it. He couldn’t have been more happy. The only thing I might add is some form of meat because I think it tasted a little too vegan for my father, who tends to prefer the typical manly meaty dishes.

  88. Angela

    Just made this and it was delicious! Bright and summery. I was surprised to not taste the lemon zest though. Perhaps it was a background note that I would’ve missed in its absence? As far as browning – I pulled my zucchini out of the fridge a couple hours beforehand, so they would come up to room temp. I used vegetable oil for frying (not my first choice, but it was all I had). I have a gas stove top and set it at medium-high. The first batch fried up nicely in 3-4 min total. But after a couple batches, they were frying up in 2 min total (1 min, flip, 1 min). I only put 8 or so slices in at a time and used a 10″ pan.

  89. Hayley

    The zucchini frying took me FOREVER. At least 40 minutes and I was using a pan that was twice as large as the one in Deb’s photo. The idea that you could fry all the zucchini “while you’re waiting” for the water to boil as written in the recipe seems like very false advertising — my water boiled, I turned it off for 20 minutes and then reboiled! I sliced the zucchini as specified in the recipe, and I even bumped up the heat.

    The finished dish was delicious (when we finally ate at 9:30) but considering that the zucchini end up tossed with vinegar they don’t even stay crispy from frying. Deb & Ottolenghi are go-to recipe sources but this one did not seem well-thought through. Next time I’ll roast the zucchini.

  90. Rose

    This looked so good I made it last night to go with some grilled rib eyes but it really could be a stand alone dish it’s so substantial and filling. I picked up some excellent white eggplant at my local farm market so I diced and fried that and tossed it in with the yellow & green fried zucchinis. We had some little golden cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado along with it too. Delicious dinner and look forward to the leftovers today for lunch. I also used frozen peans instead of the edamame called for in the original recipe. Keeper pasta dish.

  91. Rose

    I used a 12 inch cast iron skillet with about 1/4 inch of sunflower oil in it to brown on medium high heat on a powerful range top. The first batch took about 8 min total to fry but the other batches took less, maybe 3-4 minutes. I placed the fried pieces on a paper towel set on a rack for them to drain a bit and seasoned with a bit of salt & pepper. They do not stay crop – zucchini has a lot of moisture anyway – but they still taste delicious fried.

  92. I have now made this recipe three times. Each time it’s been delicious.

    First time I baked the zuke slices with olive oil because I was afraid to deep fry. They got brown, but they were limp. I figured I should fry.

    Second time I bit the bullet and deep fried. They browned and I expected them to be crispy. But no, thhey were just brown and limp and mushy.

    Third time I put the slices under the broiler. Again they got brown. Again they were limp.

    I guess the zucchini is just supposed to be brown, llimp and mushy! It doesn’t matter, because the dish is so darn good.

  93. Martha

    I made this for dinner tonight with a few minor veggie adjustments due CSA veggies I had or did not have on hand. It was so delicious; the flavors were wonderful together. I used broccoli in addition to the small amount of zucchini I had; sugar snap peas in place of edamame; spinach in place of parsley…FABULOUS flavor, beautiful color. I will make again when the endless zucchini start arriving in our veggie boxes! Thank you.

  94. Jen (Toronto)

    I liked this! The second night we had it, I added a bit of lemon juice to increase the acidity in this dish, which is needed to counterbalance the fried zucchini. I used frozen peas as this is what was on hand; next time I will definitely get fresh peas or edamame. If you reheat leftovers, do so gently… the buffalo mozzarella turns into clumbs and crazy webs of strings when it gets too hot.

  95. Nan

    I just made this recipe, I am commenting on the amount of oil left after frying the zucchini. Do you think the reason why you had almost the same amount as when you started could be from the moisture from the zucchini releasing it’s juice. Just a thought.

    1. deb

      Nan — I definitely considered that. But, water in the oil would make it hissy/splattery and it wasn’t hissing/splattering. In the end, I do think that the zucchini picks up a tablespoon or two of oil, but that’s only a little more than we’d use to roast or saute them.

  96. Jen H.

    I really want to make this tonight, but we don’t have any mozzarella. How well do you think feta would work as a swap? Too sharp for the zucchini?

  97. Jennifer

    I randomly picked this recipe out of Plenty to make for a dinner party last night….and then lo and behold I saw that one of my favorite bloggers had made this recipe less than a month ago! :) Same experience here with Ottolenghi recipes…I’m learning to trust his brilliance though!

    I roasted the zucchini at 450 for ~25 min, and they came out perfectly for those who would rather not fry for one reason or another. Roasting is definitely less messy!

    The green couscous recipe in Plenty is also AMAZING- I make it with quinoa to increase the protein/nutrition. Sourdough and quinoa salad also fabulous! Thanks for your great blog, Deb-I love it!

  98. Sara Eagle

    Hi Deb!! I just made this (to bring to the Philharmonic in the Park tmr night!) and…wow!

    As it turns out, this is the first time I’ve fried anything (!) so I was a bit unclear about A) How much oil to add to my pan, because mine was bigger than yours, and B) When to add the zucchini to the oil. It all worked out in the end, though, and I appreciate the learning experience you provided :)

    1. deb

      Oh hello, Ms. Eagle! So, I use the 2/3 cup suggested by Ottolenghi but mostly all that matters is that you can submerge the zucchini in it without it touching the bottom of the pan (which might make it scorch a little). I like to test to see if oil is hot enough by flicking a droplet of water in; you want it to hiss and sputter. I hope this helps for next time!

  99. Courtney

    Hi Deb! You have transformed me into a lover of cooking. I cook for 6 friends every tuesday, and we are all truly smitten with smitten kitchen. They claim I’m a fantastic cook. I always laugh because it’s just following your recipes! I often look for the recipes that say “do ahead” since I work full time, and then have to host by 7pm, but want a fantastic meal for friends. I’m curious with this recipe if I can make this ahead of time, keep all in large pot, but then what? Re-heat? Serve chilled? What would you suggest so the Zuccini doesn’t lose it’s crunch?

  100. Aarthi

    Deb, a cookware question. Are you using a saucier to deep fry here? I am trying to
    pull the trigger on a pan for frying and I think I need ;) a saucier.

  101. Aarthi

    Thank you. Can I just say I can’t wait for your next cookbook? We live on your black bean soup in winter and love your tomato one as well. Gah I will pre order now if I can.

  102. Just made for the second time tonight. Cranked the heat up, and the zucchini browned much faster. Also, this time added toasted pine nuts, which my household gave enthusiastic thumbs up to.

  103. David Duncan

    I stumbled across your site and this recipe by serendipity and decided to try it. What good luck.

    We had it with grilled salmon and fresh corn, pink, yellow and green. Heavenly. Add a glass of riesling, a blue sky and a cool evening and it doesn’t get much better.

    I would send a picture if I could, but you’ll have to imagine.

    Thank you

  104. Katie

    Made this last night. Followed the recipe exactly, except we added sliced turkey Italian sausage and red heirloom grape tomatoes to make it a one pot meal. It was divine – best thing I have had in a long time!

  105. Kris

    I know what you mean about Ottolenghi – I have Plenty and when I first got it I was a bit disappointed. Not by his weird combos of ingredients, but by the fact almost every recipe seems to contain an expensive (at least in Canada) dairy product – yogurt, cream, or a particular cheese. It’s not like you can’t leave them out, but some recipes seem to depend on them, and I was hoping more for a “here’s how to make amazing vegetables using spices and technique” type book. It’s pretty easy to make something taste good using melted taleggio or unripened goat’s cheese!

  106. kate

    This might be a stupid question but, when you added fresh peas to this dish, did you cook them first or leave them raw? I only ask because I love snacking on raw fresh peas :)

  107. Kirstin

    On the browning issue that Theo and others have mentioned, I have noticed several similar recipes for fried zucchini dressed with vinegar that have additional steps in them for prepping the zucchni:

    – Sometimes whole zucchini are soaked in ice water first
    – then they are cut to shape and sprinkled with salt, which starts to bring the natural moisture out of the zucchini
    – they are patted dry with a clean tea towel or paper towel before frying
    – sometimes they are also coated with a little flour before frying

    It seems to make sense to me that zucchini slices would brown better if some of the natural moisture was removed first – I know I always squeeze the hell out of my zoodles before I fry them into fritters. I might give this one a go tomorrow and report back :)

  108. Nat

    This looks amazing. I am planning on making this tonight but I don’t have any red wine vinegar…I do have both balsamic and apple cider vinegar. Just wondering what a better substitute would be?

  109. Kelly

    Can you tell me what frying the zucchini does? Does it make it crispy? I worry high water content frying would just mean it would brown, not crisp and lengthy time in the oil would mean it absorbs too much liquid. I’m wondering if it might be better/healthier to salt it, let it drain in colander for an hour and then crisp in a high-heat oven. What do you think?

  110. becca

    From the comments it seems like the vinegar really makes the dish. Sadly, though, I have an allergy and can’t use it (or wine)! Any suggestions for a substitution that will give the same “pop”? I usually use lemon juice in place of vinegar, but I can’t tell what that might do in this case. Thanks for any tips!

  111. Wendy

    Cynthia: I think that’s a reference to another recipe–not this one. But your question popped this page up in my feed–and I’m SO happy it did. This is what’s for dinner!

  112. deb

    Cynthia — There’s no tahini in this. I was referencing his hummus, which I’ve adapted on this site (linked from that line in the post).

  113. Tina

    I’ve been on a Smitten Kitchen kick since I made the pasta salad with roasted tomatoes (twice in one week). I have to agree with Washington Cube though, this is one of the few recipes that I did not particularly care for.

    To be fair, the SO and I don’t really like capers so I substituted them for olives (diced into caper-sized chunks). I also used the frozen peas instead of edamame (as written).

    The final result was beautifully green but it turned out pretty bland. I think the recipe is lacking more acidic ingredients, so I’d imagine it would be better if I had used the capers. Still, even 2 tablespoons does not seem like it would be quite enough… The SO was expecting a more traditional pesto flavor so he was disappointed as well.

    I think I may have to douse this in grated parmesan and red pepper flakes and just power through… Oh well, maybe I’ll have better luck with the next recipe.

  114. Adrea

    I love everything about this recipe. Especially that I have most of the main ingredients in my garden. The flavors are wonderful and fresh! Has anyone found a way that the zucchini doesn’t get mushy? It was so delicious just out of the oil, then when I mixed it in the pot it became kinda slimy. Still tasted great. I will make this again. Maybe add the zucchini on too?

  115. Coming back to say that since I first made this recipe last summer I have eagerly anticipated the return of my local farmer’s market and fresh zukes and basil. Since the market opened I have made this every single week – four times, now – and I expect to continue making it once a week throughout the summer. It’s just that good. I roast the zucchini slices in the oven and since my husband doesn’t like capers, I sub sundried tomatoes. Otherwise, everything the same. Seriously, this is the best summer dish EVER. Even with mushy zucchini.

  116. Caroline

    Just finished eating this. Even without the capers and mozzarella, which I sadly didn’t have, still very tasty!

    I found that the frying oil needed to be about 370°-375° F for the zucchini slices to brown and crisp up properly. It took a solid 30 minutes for the oil to get up to temp — I recommend checking with a quick-read thermometer. The first batch, before the oil was hot enough, eventually browned but was soggy and greasy, so I re-fried them to crisp them up once the oil had gotten hot enough. They got a little extra dark brown, but it was better than soggy. I didn’t salt or squeeze the zucchini — just sliced it using the food processor and got to frying.

    Adrea, I found if the fried zucchini is as crisp as potato chips, it doesn’t get mushy when tossed with the vinegar or the rest of the dish.

    Tina, I’m a bit surprised that you thought it lacked acidity — I found that the vinegar provided bright acidic flavor. Maybe try a bit more vinegar or lemon juice?

  117. Sara

    Well, I found this to be very lacking in flavor! Doesn’t help that I’m already not a very good cook and decided on this complicated Ottolenghi dish as one of my first lol…geez. But what could I have done wrong? Maybe not browning the zucchini enough, or putting enough salt/pepper? Also I realized at the end when it was too late I used the whole bag of pasta (16 oz) instead of 9 oz, maybe next time double the other ingredients or half the pasta?

  118. Shan

    No garlic? I want there to be garlic. Nope. Just triple checked.

    I will NOT add it I will NOT add it.

    I have food trust issues.

    I noticed dobos torte was three years ago. My time flies. I enjoyed that post AND that eating of said torte. Now I have to go see if you had that baby yet. I’ve been at sea. Literally. I can’t remember how far along you were when I left. I know you, yet you are a stranger. Funny how you grow to care about such things. If you had… her? , bless her and your family!

  119. Shan

    I resisted adding in garlic. I resisted squirreling around with the recipe round one. Yum. Second time I subbed in early favas done on the grill and then swirled in the herbs oil… and garlic. I also doubled the capers and splashed in the caper brine. Godda say – I preferred round 2. We ate like wild hogs. Fab with grilled lamb, fresh slabs of tomato, and lamb chops.

    Anyone thinking about roasting or broiling them – rethink it. Fried, they keep their integrity a bit better. Speaking of – the fried zuke with vinegar and salt. Delicious!

  120. Vidya

    I also found this a bit bland – which sucks because I love everything involved! As much as I love Ottolenghi, a few of his recipes have turned out to be disappointments. And also inaccessible – the buffalo mozzarella called for in this recipe is way out of my poor struggling grad student budget. I used cow’s milk mozzarella, which probably added to the bore factor. One thing I have really learned from Ottolenghi is his techniques – like frying every vegetable known to man. And stuffing every vegetable known to man. Having said that, the only Ottolenghi book I love to bits is Jerusalem. Really fantastic recipes with slightly humbler roots that are versatile and work with what you already have.

  121. demelza

    I feel so guilty to be the nay-sayer! I made this recipe for a Memorial Day party last weekend. I am an experienced and accomplished cook, from a long line of experienced and accomplished cooks. Maybe this recipe failed from trying to double it. I’m not sure. For me, it was tasteless and bland, and certainly not worth the time and effort.

  122. I’m back to say Thank You again for this dish! I am once again making it every week now that summer’s here. Trader Joe fresh mozzarella is what I use, and man, this salad is THE BEST!

  123. Liz

    I made this. It was insanely good. I didn’t want to fry the zucchini so I broiled it after tossing with a bit of olive oil. The capers really are a special touch.

  124. Vanessa

    Frying the zucchini took much less time that I thought it would. It was really tasty. I did leave out the capers, because they’re too salty for me. I’m a wimp when it comes to salt. I added the juice of half of a lemon, because I thought it would go bad before I got to use it, if I left it in the fridge. I really like the combination of lemon and zucchini, so I didn’t mind a stronger lemon flavor.

  125. Judith

    There won’t be any leftover at my house! I plan to bake the zucchini to cut calories. Wont be as great but if you spray it with oil it should work.

  126. Eliza Kramer

    YUM! I used the recipe for inspiration, skipped the peas, added broc, skipped the parsley, added extra basil. It’s a great recipe for lunch (it took me just 30 minutes start to finish and I had to pick all the veggies first).

  127. Sandy Lentz

    This was outstanding! Used peas ( because I had them), regular mozzarella (because the buffalo was ‘way too expensive) and cut the squash too thin (not paying close attention to the food processor disc I was using because I was in a hurry, making a double batch to share with a friend whose husband is in the hospital).
    A double batch of the recipe I’m making for the first time…to share…does that tell you how much I trust your recipes, Deb?

  128. I made this last week as my contribution to a cookout and have been dreaming about it since then. It’s excellent and I will so definitely be making it again.
    This is the first Ottolenghi recipe I’ve ever made. I feel like half the cookouts or dinner parties I’ve been to in the past year had at least one of his recipes on the table and they were all so incredibly good, but I haven’t gotten around to getting the guy’s books so until last week I hadn’t tried any of the recipes myself. I didn’t even realize that you’ve had a bunch of them on the blog for a couple of years now! I’ve been living in the dark!

  129. slaterlicsw

    Ah! I desperately want to make this today bit (sin of sins I know!) neither my husband or I like capers OR olives. What to do??? Just more salt?

    1. deb

      It’s not an exact science — has more to do with how deep the dish, if you’ve let it warm up or are putting it in right from the fridge. In general, I like to rewarm things between 300 and 350 and give it at least 20 minutes. A cold, dense dish will take longer.

  130. kat

    This is a fantastic dish! I’ve made it few times with modifications, after making it faithfully, as per Deb. So, fantastic, yes. But, a bit laborious – I’d do it on a weekend, more so than the weeknight. Further, I am not a fan of deep frying, so I sauteed the zucchini with butter and mint instead and it worked beautifully. Do follow Deb’s direction and use half a basil in the sauce and half sprinkled on top – when I put it all in the oil, it lost some flavour. Finally, if you can, do not skip the peas/edamame – I used edamame every time – oddly it’s the best thing in the dish, in terms of texture and taste. Yum yum.