Recipe: Pasta with Zucchini Sauce

Pennette with Zucchini Sauce

Today on the Market Report, Laura Avery interviews Amelia Saltsman, author of the Santa Monica Farmers Market Cookbook about using up the bounty of summer squash. Amelia likes to make a simple Pasta with Zucchini Sauce by sauteeing some onions, garlic and diced zucchinis in olive oil until the squash begin to melt. She says if you have good zucchinis and good olive oil that this is a winning dish. You can also add clams to this for a heartier dish. Keep reading for her full recipe…

Pasta with Zucchini Sauce

(Makes 6 to 8 servings.)

Zucchini is such an everyday food that it’s easy to forget how delicious a starring ingredient it can be. Simply sautéed in good olive oil with onion and garlic, summer squash melts into a luscious sauce that coats each noodle in creamy goodness. Because there are so few ingredients in this dish, the quality of squash, pasta, and olive oil make all the difference. Use tender, medium-sized green zucchini or pale-green marrow squash (also called Lebanese zucchini). This is a delightful vegan dish as is, or you can stir in a handful of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Or, skip the cheese and add a pound of small clams during the last 5 minutes of cooking for a classic southern Italian pairing.


1 onion

2 large cloves garlic

2 pounds medium zucchini or marrow squash (4 to 5 per pound)

4 to 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black or white pepper

1 pound small or regular penne, farfalle, or other pleasant shape short pasta


Finely chop onion and mince garlic. Cut squash into ½-inch pieces for faster cooking. Here’s how to make quick work of this: Cut the zucchini into quarters lengthwise. Gather up the “zucchini sticks” and cut crosswise through as many sticks as you can easily manage at once.

Put a large pot of water on to boil. In another wide pot large enough to accommodate all ingredients, sauté the onion over medium with a little salt in 1 to 2 tablespoons of the oil until onion is soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook 30 to 60 seconds. Add zucchini and 2 tablespoons oil. Add about ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook uncovered until color of skins deepens and mixture starts to get shiny, about 3 minutes.

Cover the pot, lower the heat, and cook until zucchini are extremely tender, even melting in places, and have released their liquid to make a sauce, 15 to 20 minutes. Check the pot from time to time just in case you need to add a little water (I’ve never found this necessary when I have fresh young zucchini). Uncover pot, raise heat to medium and cook about a minute to thicken the sauce slightly.

Meanwhile, generously salt boiling water and add pasta. When pasta is almost done, remove about a half cup of the cooking water and reserve. Loosely drain pasta and stir into the zucchini-onion mixture. Turn heat to medium, stir in 1 to 2 more tablespoons of olive oil and about ¼ cup pasta water, salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat until pasta is nicely coated with sauce, about 2 minutes.

© 2012, Amelia Saltsman.

  • AllieX

    Thank you for the recipe!

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  • RedTail Rubin

    The Zucchini Pasta was sooo tasty! I added some seasoned chicken and it was delicious!

  • Nikki

    I tried this recipe tonight and my husband and I both loved it! I halved the recipe but otherwise pretty much followed the instructions. I did top with some freshly grated romano, some feta crumbles, some chopped fresh tomato and some torn basil leaves. Next time I will also add pine nuts. Thanks for the great recipe!

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  • Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Very useful info specially the last part 🙂 I care for such info a lot. I was seeking this particular information for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.

  • This pasta dish is so good that I've enjoyed with a wine from the cellar of Castelmaure Vin en vente :

  • Rudy A

    Came across your lovely recipe yesterday – it made a perfect meal for the night before Thanksgiving.