Olivia Piepmeier

Zucchini Pasta

Categories: pasta main veggies
A watercolor illustration of a frying pan of zucchini slices getting browned from above. It says 'zucchini pasta' above the illustration.

inspired by New York Times Cooking


  • 1/2 pound short curvy pasta (I like rotini with this. The original recipe calls for fusilli. Do what you will with this information.)
  • 2 pounds zucchini and/or yellow squash (but I’m going to say zucchini throughout), halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces
  • 5? garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • red pepper flakes
  • at least one lemon, both zest and juice
  • 1 cup parmesan (you really don’t need to measure, I think just saying ‘1 cup parm’ means A LOT)
  • a couple handfuls of chopped herbs, like mint or basil (if you have to skip this, fine, but it really makes a difference!)


  1. Bring a big ole pot of salty water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Cook until just under al dente, so likely a minute before the package says it will be done.
  3. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
  4. While the steps above are happening, heat a large skillet over medium.
  5. Add olive oil (enough to cover the pan without drowning the zucchini) and warm it up
  6. Add zucchini in one layer (you will definitely be doing multiple batches).
  7. Salt and pepper it.
  8. Let it sit undisturbed for around 3 minutes, then flip/mix it around to sear the other side. The goal is to get both sides browned (but not too quickly, because we do want them cooked all the way through!), so don’t pay attention to the time as much as getting that sear.
  9. Transfer the lovely browned zucchini to a bowl and do the same thing as many times as needed to get it all done.
  10. Once that’s all done, in your hot and now-empty pan, add a little bit more olive oil and let it warm up.
  11. Add the garlic slices and however much red pepper flakes as you want.
  12. Stir often and cook until the garlic becomes translucent, somewhere between 30 seconds and a minute.
  13. Put all the zucchini back in the pan along with lemon juice and zest, stirring to combine.
  14. At this point, the pasta has most certainly been done and separated from its one cup of water. If it’s not already there, put the drained pasta back in the pot you cooked it in.
  15. Add everything in the skillet to the pasta pot in addition to the cheese with a little bit of the pasta water to start.
  16. Stir well, and add the herbs.
  17. Add more pasta water if you think it needs a little more sauciness.
  18. Taste and adjust as needed with salt, pepper, parmesan, maybe more herbs, maybe more lemon juice.


It’s truly zucchini season, y’all. That means we play ‘how many different ways can I use up zucchini?’ To me, the hardest part about this is the batches of zucchini to brown - it just feels a little tedious - but it’s absolutely worth the effort. That plus the herbs make this very satisfying. I don’t have much to say about this. It’s a perfect summer pasta!