Fried-Zucchini Spaghetti


This quick and easy spaghetti is tossed with torn basil and Parmesan, then topped with crispy, golden slices of zucchini and a sprinkle of lemon juice.

Close-up of a blue ceramic bowl of fried-zucchini spaghetti.

John Kernick

Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
30 mins

This simple pasta dish is an ode to the mountains of fried zucchini Gwyneth Paltrow ate at Elio's, an Italian restaurant on Manhattan's Upper East Side, when she was growing up. First, she shallow-fries zucchini slices in extra-virgin olive oil until golden brown and crisp. Spaghetti is simmered until al dente and then tossed with shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, freshly ground black pepper, and torn basil leaves. Some of the starchy cooking water is gradually stirred in until the cheese is emulsified and the spaghetti is coated with a creamy sauce. The fried zucchini slices are scattered over the top, and the pasta is showered with more Parmesan. Squeezing a lemon wedge over each serving at the table adds a bright burst of acidity, which helps balance the richness of the crispy, olive oil-infused zucchini. Paltrow's spaghetti makes for an ideal summer dinner, especially when paired with a Classic Caesar Salad or a platter of Tomatoes with Herbs and Almond Vinaigrette.


  • 1 pound small zucchini, very thinly sliced crosswise

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • Kosher salt

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 12 ounces spaghetti

  • 1 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving

  • 1/2 cup torn basil leaves

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. In a medium bowl, toss the zucchini with the flour and a pinch of salt. In a very large skillet, heat half of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the zucchini and fry over high heat, turning once or twice, until browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the zucchini to a paper towel-lined wire rack and season with salt. Repeat with the remaining oil and zucchini.

  2. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid. Return the pasta to the pot and toss with 1 cup of cheese, the basil, and a generous pinch of pepper. Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time, tossing well to coat. Transfer the pasta to a bowl and top with the crispy zucchini. Serve right away with lemon wedges and additional cheese.

Suggested pairing

Fresh, zippy California Sauvignon Blanc.

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