Makes 6 servings
3/4 cup blanched slivered almonds, divided
3 medium zucchini (about 11/2 pounds)
1 pound favorite dry spaghetti or other pasta
1/2 cup fruity olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, peeled, thinly sliced
Generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
11/2 cups freshly grated Pecorino Romano or good-quality Parmesan, plus more for serving
1/2 cup chopped mint, plus more for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, until just golden. Be sure to keep an eye on the almonds, because they can easily burn. Remove almonds from oven, let them cool and then coarsely chop them. Reserve 1/4 cup for garnish. (You can toast the almonds several days in advance.)
2. Meanwhile, run the zucchini under cool water. Cut one in half and cut the half into matchstick-size pieces. Chop the remaining zucchini into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.
3. Bring water for pasta to a boil and cook pasta until al dente, according to package directions.
4. 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.
5. Scoop out 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Turn off the heat, return the pasta to the hot pot and about 1/2 cup of the hot reserved pasta water, the pesto, lemon zest, 11/2 cups of cheese and 1/2 cup of mint. Stir until well combined. Fold in the zucchini matchsticks, being careful not to break them up. Transfer the pasta to bowls. Garnish with mint and the reserved almonds.
6. Serve, passing additional cheese at the table.