For part two of my quest to use up a mountain of zucchini from my garden, I considered making a simple pasta dish – saute squash with garlic and throw it on spaghetti. But I decided to make it more of a nutritious meal by adding chickpeas, and more interesting by adding crispy breadcrumbs with the ingredients of gremolata: parsley, garlic and lemon zest.
Between the sweetness of the zucchini, the tartness of the lemon and the crunch of the breadcrumbs, this dish is the perfect intersection of flavor and texture. So go pick your squash – either out of the ground or at the farmer’s market. Just don’t try to give your extras away to me. I’m still drowning in the stuff.
Pasta with Zucchini, Chickpeas and Gremolata Breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
4 cloves garlic, divided
1 cup freshly made breadcrumbs from good-quality whole wheat or other bread
Grated zest of one lemon
2-3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 medium zucchini (I used one small and one huge), sliced lengthwise and then thinly sliced into half-moons
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
Juice of ½ lemon
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
¾ pound whole wheat or whole grain blend spaghetti
To make the gremolata breadcrumbs, heat 2 t. olive oil in a skillet, add half the garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the bread crumbs, lemon zest and parsley and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until bread crumbs are browned and crispy. Set aside.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet. Add the zucchini and red pepper flakes, and cook over medium heat, turning frequently with a spatula, until the zucchini is starting to turn golden (about 10 minutes). Add the remaining garlic during the last 3 minutes of cooking time. Stir in the chickpeas, lemon juice, salt and a generous amount of black pepper.
Meanwhile, heat a large pot of water and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the reserved liquid to the zucchini mixture and cook for 2 additional minutes. Combine the pasta and squash, and stir gently. Serve topped with the breadcrumbs and a drizzle of olive oil.