This zucchini linguine calls for pasta to be tossed with summer squash (zoodles, actually), capers, garlic, pepper flakes, mint, dill, parsley, and cheese for an easy vegetarian pasta dinner.
I remember my dad serving spaghetti with steak in his restaurant, and it was always a real treat. I spent nine months working in Tuscany several years ago, and that totally sorted my pasta cravings out. This zucchini linguine recipe is exactly the kind of thing I like to throw together on a weeknight—quick, simple, vegetable-based, and something that uses up produce that I tend to have an abundance of. You can jazz it up with the addition of fresh prawns or serve as a side to a grilled fish dish.–Maria Elia
☞ Table of Contents
- 12 to 14 ounces zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini or summer squash), ends trimmed
- 10 1/2 ounces fresh linguine or 8 ounces (227 g) dried linguine
- Sea salt to taste
- Extra-virgin olive oil to taste
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons capers, preferably salt-packed rinsed and dried
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- Pinch dried red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
- 3/4 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter diced
- 1 1/4 cups freshly grated kefalotyri*, Parmesan, or pecorino cheese
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until just al dente (usually a little less time than the package instructions indicate).
- While the linguine is cooking, heat a glug of olive oil (as little as 1 teaspoon or as much as 1/4 cup) in a large skillet over medium heat, add the capers, and cook until crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the capers to a paper towel-lined plate, then pour another glug of oil in the pan, if needed, and cook the zucchini, garlic, and pepper flakes, if using, just until tender. (You may need to cook the zucchini in a couple of batches, depending on the size of your skillet.) Remove from the heat.
- Drain the linguine in a colander, reserving a little of the pasta cooking water. Return the linguine to the pot, add the zucchini mixture, the capers, herbs, and pepper, and gently toss. Add the butter, 1/4 cup reserved cooking water, and half the cheese and mix well. Taste and, if desired, season with salt. (You may want to go easy with the salt as the dish gets ample from the capers and the cheese.) Sprinkle the zucchini linguine with the remaining cheese and serve immediately.
*What is kefalotyri?A hard, salty, white cheese made from sheep or goat’s milk, kefalotyri is made in Greece or Cyprus. It’s most popularly used as the cheese in saganaki, the olive oil-fried cheese appetizer. It’s also used grated into pasta, salads, and meat dishes. As it’s a drier cheese, it doesn’t melt particularly well but can be used anywhere you’d want a hard Parmesan or Romano.
Variation: Zucchini Linguine with Shrimp and LemonToss some peeled shrimp into the skillet when you’re crisping the capers and finish the pasta dish with a little freshly grated lemon zest along with the cheese or omit the cheese entirely if you prefer.
Variation: Quicker Zucchini LinguineFor an even quicker weeknight pasta dinner, cook the zoodles with the pasta rather than in the skillet. Just add the slices to the boiling water about 4 minutes before the linguine is due to be done.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This zucchini linguine recipe was quite different from any pasta dish I’ve ever had but in a really good way. Butter and cheese will always work with pasta, but the zucchini, capers, and herbs added a lot of texture and flavor.
I used 2 zucchini that were each on the larger side—they weighed a total of 2 pounds. I cooked the capers in 1 tablespoon oil until they became slightly crisp, about 2 minutes over medium heat. I added another 1 tablespoon oil to the pan to cook the zoodles, garlic, and pepper flakes.
This is a great recipe to make as-is or to riff on when you want to satisfy a pasta and veggie craving.
Ever since I discovered crisp fried capers, I’ve been looking for ways to use them! After a tiny plea from me, my dill-avoiding mate agreed to try this herb-rich recipe and had no issue at all as the dill worked so well with the other ingredients. I used a nice Parmesan. We finished the dish in silence, wishing there was more of it.
Next time, I’d love to try adding fresh oregano, especially if I have good Kefalotyri on hand. I could also substitute all zucchini for the pasta for a low-carb version, which would give me an excuse to get out my Zoodle toy. If I was cooking just for myself, I’d swap out the parsley and dill for cilantro and fresh oregano, keep the mint, and maybe substitute Aleppo for the red pepper flakes.
Originally published June 22, 2018