If you’ve never fried basil before (not sauteÃ©d, FRIED), you’re in for a real treat. When fried (which only takes a few seconds), the basil leaves turn bright green and become beautifully translucent. They’re crisp and crunchy and practically melt in your mouth. Mmmm!
Just a warning: it pops. Big time! Use a pot with tall sides, and a splatter guard if you have one. Only fry them a couple leaves at a time, and as soon as you drop them in the oil, stand back!
We also didn’t want to waste a whole cup of good olive oil… so we took it after the basil had been fried and the oil had cooled, and poured it into a bottle. The oil took on the flavor of the basil (basil oil, yes?) and tastes delicious drizzled on bread or potatoes. Yum!
Next time we make this (and we will make this again), we’ll actually sautÃ© the zucchini in olive oil rather than butter. I think it gives it a much nicer flavor, and since there is so much olive oil left over already, why not?
Fettucine with Zucchini and Crispy Basil
Makes 6 servings. Recipe from The Essential Pasta Cookbook.
1 cup olive oil
a handful of small, fresh basil leaves
1 lb fettucine
2 tbs butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb zucchini, grated
3/4 cup grated parmesan
To crisp-fry the basil leaves, heat the oil in a small pan, add 2-3 leaves at a time and cook for 15-20 seconds, or until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining basil leaves.
Cook the pasta in a large pot of rapidly boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter in a deep heavy-based pan over low heat until the butter is foaming. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occaisionally, for 1-2 minutes of until softened. Add to the hot pasta. Add the parmesan and toss well. Serve garnished with the crisp basil leaves.