Penne with Zucchini

Serves 4

1 pound Penne, Mostaccioli or other medium shape, uncooked
1 pound small zucchini (about 3), plus one for garnish
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 piece Parmesan cheese (at least 4 oz.)
1 cup vegetable oil plus 3 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced, about 2/3 cup
2 cloves garlic, sliced very thinly
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp. unsalted butter
Salt to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

Wash zucchini, wipe dry and trim the ends. Slice one zucchini into rounds about the thickness of a quarter. Toss sliced zucchini in a bowl with flour until coated on all sides. Remove slices from bowl, shaking off excess flour.

Cut remaining zucchini into fine dice. Grate enough Parmesan cheese to measure 2 tbsp. Set aside. Shave enough of remaining cheese into curls with a vegetable peeler to measure 2 tbsp. Set aside separately.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy skillet. Add onion and sauté until tender and light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, cook one minute, then stir in diced zucchini. Cook until zucchini is tender and most of the liquid is evaporated from skillet, about 10 minutes. Remove zucchini from skillet and set aside.

Clean skillet, dry it well and pour in the remaining one cup of vegetable oil. Heat over medium heat until an edge of one of the coated zucchini slices sizzles when dipped in oil. Carefully slip as many of the zucchini slices as will float freely into the oil. Fry them, turning once until golden brown on both sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Keep warm and repeat with remaining zucchini slices if necessary.

Combine pasta, diced zucchini mixture, grated Parmesan, butter, salt and pepper to taste. Heat over low heat until butter is melted and pasta is coated with sauce. Divide the pasta among serving bowls and sprinkle with the shaved Parmesan. Top with fried zucchini slices.