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Spaghettini with Summer Squash and Crispy Speck

This recipe combines the sweetness of summer squash with the smokiness of speck. It is also gorgeous to look at: strands of thin spaghettini intertwined with bright green and yellow ribbons of squash and rosy flecks of ham.

Ingredients:

  • Fine sea salt, to taste, plus 1/4 tsp.
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 oz. (125 g) Italian speck, cut into small dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. (500 g) mixed zucchini and yellow summer squash, sliced
      very thinly lengthwise using a mandoline or vegetable peeler,
      then cut into thin strips
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tbs. finely shredded fresh basil
  • 1 lb. (500 g) dried spaghettini
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat.

Meanwhile, in a large fry pan over medium heat, combine the olive oil and speck and sauté until the speck is crispy, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until it just begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes.

Add the squash and toss well to coat the strands with the oil. Season with the 1/4 tsp. salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the squash is just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the basil and remove from the heat. Cover the sauce to keep warm.

Add the pasta to the boiling water, stir and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes or according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) of the cooking water. Transfer the pasta to the pan with the sauce. Using tongs or a pasta fork, toss gently to combine. Add a splash or two of the pasta-cooking water to loosen the sauce, if needed. Sprinkle with the cheese and toss again. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide the pasta among shallow bowls, spoon any remaining sauce on top and serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti (Weldon Owen, 2011).