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Pasta with Zucchini, Garlic and Olive Oil

Got zucchini? This simple dish of Pasta with Zucchini, Garlic and Olive Oil is packed with flavor and is easy to throw together.

Pasta with Zucchini, Garlic and Olive Oil by FamilySpice.com

“Zucchini” is one of those words that I just can’t spell right the first time. I totally depend on my computer’s spell checker to make sure I am spelling it right. I don’t know what’s so difficult about remembering it. I’ve always thought I’ve been a good speller, but I keep wanting to drop a ‘c’ and add an ‘n.’ Then there’s “portobello” – I like to mess that one up, too, by spelling it “portabella.” Maybe it’s because that’s how I pronounce it?

Zucchini cut with a mandoline by FamilySpice.com

Well, however you spell it, zucchini may be a summer fruit, but luckily for us, it’s available all year round. And I’m picky about eating this Italian Squash. If you over cook it, it becomes a soggy mess that is not very appetizing.

Browning garlic for Pasta with Zucchini, Garlic and Olive Oil by FamilySpice.com

I first saw this Michael Chiarello recipe when my oldest was my only-est and only a few months old. Mr. Chiarello made this on some morning show and I sat there mesmerized, nursing my boy, on the couch. I totally wanted to make this dish and inhale it. But, back then (goodness, I sound so old) recipes weren’t so easily available online and I soon forgot about the zucchinis, the pasta and Mr. Chiarello.

Making Pasta with Zucchini, Garlic and Olive Oil by FamilySpice.com

Fast-forward 9-1/2 years and 2 more kids later and I FINALLY find the recipe online and I’m totally ready to make this dish. It certainly was worth the wait.

You want to sauté your garlic NOT burn it. So golden brown and no more. If you burn the garlic, it tastes bitter and you have to start all over again.

Ready to toss Pasta with Zucchini, Garlic and Olive Oil by FamilySpice.com

A mandoline is really required to make the zucchini uniform and julienned to perfection. Luckily, I had one in my cupboards, purchased from our local fair 7-some-odd years ago. You can also use those peelers that automatically julienne your vegetable without slicing your finger on a mandoline.

Pasta with Zucchini, Garlic and Olive Oil by FamilySpice.com

Because the zucchini is cut so thinly, you don’t have to cook it. The warm pasta softens it beautifully and it doesn’t turn to mush.

Some parmesan and lemon zest and this simple dish is so ridiculously good. I mean RIDICULOUSLY good.

You’re very welcome.

Bon Appétit!

Pasta with Zucchini, Garlic and Olive Oil


Laura Bashar

This is a wonderful dish to highlight a harvest of summer zucchini. Recipe by Laura Bashar of Family Spice


  • 5 qt water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 lb spaghetti
  • 1 lb zucchini
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 TBS garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup basil, fresh, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 lemon, grated zest & juice
  • 2 TBS Parmesan cheese, grated


  1. In a large 8-quart stock pot bring to boil:
    • 5 qt water
    • 2 tsp salt
  2. When water in the pot is boiling, add:
    • 1 lb spaghetti
  3. Cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.
  4. While the water comes to a boil and the pasta cooks, use a mandoline with the fine French-fry cutter and slice up:
    • 1 lb zucchini
  5. If you do not have a mandoline, cut by hand into the longest, finest julienne you can.
  6. If your zucchini is very finely cut, it does not need to be cooked. Otherwise, place in a colander, suspend over the pasta pot, cover the pot, and steam the zucchini until still slightly crunchy, about 2 minutes.
  7. In a small skillet over medium-high heat add:
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  8. When oil is hot, sauté for 2 minutes, or until light brown:
    • 2 TBS garlic cloves , minced
  9. Do not let the the garlic burn or it will turn bitter and need to be discarded.
  10. Quickly sauté for 1 min:
    • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  11. Mix in and remove from the heat:
    • 1/4 cup basil, fresh , coarsely chopped
  12. When the pasta is al dente, drain through a colander, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water.
  13. Pour the pasta into a warm serving bowl.
  14. Add zucchini and garlic mixture, along with:
    • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese , grated
    • 1 lemon , grated zest & juice
  15. Toss well, adding reserved pasta water as needed to make a smooth sauce.
  16. Garnish with:
    • 2 TBS Parmesan cheese , grated
  17. Serve immediately.

Prep Time:

Yield: Serves 4

Cook Time: