Cookbook author Katie Parla makes a light and fresh-tasting zucchini pesto for spaghetti, but she also adds raw zucchini matchsticks to give the dish a bit of crunch. Slideshow: More Spaghetti Recipes
Preheat the oven to 375°. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden. Let cool, then coarsely chop. Reserve 1/4 cup for garnish.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the chopped zucchini, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Scrape the zucchini into a food processor and add the remaining 1/2 cup of chopped almonds; pulse to combine. With the machine on, slowly add the remaining 6 tablespoons of oil until combined but still slightly chunky. Season the pesto with salt and pepper.
In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain. Off the heat, return the pasta to the hot pot and add the reserved pasta water, the pesto, zucchini matchsticks, lemon zest, 1 1/2 cups of cheese and 1/2 cup of mint. Stir until well combined and saucy. Transfer the pasta to bowls. Garnish with mint and the reserved almonds.
Serve, passing cheese at the table.
The zucchini pesto can be refrigerated overnight.
Pair this pasta dish with a fragrant, tart, apple-scented northern Italian white.