Zucchini Pasta is perfect for making in the summertime! Freshly squeezed lemon juice, zucchini, shallots, garlic and more come together to create the most vibrant flavor. What really sends this dish over the top are the butter-roasted pine nuts that perfectly compliment the creamy parmesan sauce!
There’s a very fine balance that we’re mastering here – the best combination of comfort food and light, summery flavor! I don’t like to eat anything too heavy on a summer evening, which is why recipes like this easy zucchini lemon pasta come in handy. It’s loaded with bright flavors from the fresh lemon juice and sliced zucchini, but still features plenty of tender pasta all tossed together in a decadent creamy sauce. It’s truly the best of both worlds! It’s made from scratch in just a few easy steps and is so much better than buying any jar of pasta sauce.
What Else Can I Add to Zucchini Pasta?
I love adding chopped sauteed asparagus or a handful of spinach to this creamy garlic pasta. You can also add grilled chicken, salmon, or shrimp. You can really add anything you like to this pasta. Don’t forget about freshly cut-up tomatoes or even sundried tomatoes.
How to Make Zucchini Pasta
Toast the pine nuts. Melt butter in a pot over medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts to the pan and mix until golden brown. Once toasted, remove the pine nuts and set aside.
Cook the pasta. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Before you drain the pasta, be sure to reserve a cup of the water.
Cook the veggies. Add more butter to the pot and toss in the garlic and shallots. Cook until translucent, then add the zucchini. Cook until just golden brown.
Toss it all together. Add the pasta to the pot along with the heavy cream, pasta water, parmesan, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt. Stir until the cheese is melted and the pasta is heated through.
Serve and enjoy! Garnish the pasta with fresh parsley, cracked black pepper, and toasted pine nuts. Serve immediately.
Storing This Pasta For Later:
I don’t recommend storing this pasta. It doesn’t do very well when reheated – the pasta tends to turn out a little dry and the lemon flavor is very minimal once it’s no longer fresh. If you do need to refrigerate it, place your leftovers in an airtight container. When you choose to heat it up in the microwave or on your stovetop, add a few tablespoons of heavy cream, parmesan cheese, and a squeeze of lemon juice to help add some moisture back into the dish. I do NOT recommend freezing this summer pasta recipe.
Ingredient Notes for Zucchini Pasta
Parmesan – Fresh parmesan is a must here! Buy a block of parmesan and grate it yourself for the very best flavor and consistency.
Zucchini – Be careful not to over-cook your zucchini. Once it starts to turn golden brown in color, it’s good to go! You want it to still have a light crunch to it, and if it’s over-cooked, it’ll be mushy.
Fresh Herbs – Feel free to get a little creative here. You can use fresh herbs such as basil or mint instead of parsley if you’d like.
Pasta Water – Remember to reserve a cup of the water that the pasta was cooked in before you drain it. This starchy water helps the sauce reach the thickest consistency that really clings to the pasta. You can stir in more or less of it to reach your desired consistency.
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- ½ Cup Pine Nuts
- 3 Cups Dried Penne Pasta
- 1 Tablespoon Salt
- 3 Garlic Cloves finely diced
- 1 Shallot finely diced
- 1 ½ Zucchinis sliced ¾ inch thick
- 1 Cup Heavy Cream
- ½ Cup Pasta Water reserved
- ½ Cup Parmesan Cheese grated
- ¼ Cup Lemon Juice
- 2 teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
- 2 teaspoons Black Pepper
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Parsley Fresh or dried
- In a large pot melt 1 tablespoon of butter on low to medium heat. Add the pine nuts to the pan and continually mix for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown. Mix continually and make sure they don’t get too brown.
- Remove the pine nuts and set aside.
- In a separate large pot bring your pasta water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of salt. Cook your pasta according to the directions on the package. Usually 7 minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoons of butter with the garlic and shallot to the large pot. Cook for 5 minutes or until translucent.
- Add the zucchini to the pan and cook for an additional 5 minutes until you start to see them go a little golden brown. Don’t cook them any longer, as they will lose their crunch.
- Reserve a cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the pot along with the heavy cream, pasta water, parmesan, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, black pepper, and salt. Stir for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the pasta is heated through.
- Place in a serving dish.
- Top with fresh parsley, cracked pepper, and toasted pine nuts.
- Serve immediately.