Spaghetti with zucchini, lemon, and basil combines some of the summer veg you most often have on hand. A simple recipe with bright flavors and layers of texture that make the most of your farmer’s market haul.
I firmly believe there is no shame in taking shortcuts now and then, and make sure you sit down and eat a meal rather than always rushing around. Savouring your food is as important to a solo cook and eater as it is to a family, or when you’re cooking for a crowd. And good cooks always keep a few staples handy for quick meals like this one–we don’t go out and buy new ingredients every day!— Signe Johansen
Spaghetti with Zucchini, Lemon, and Basil
- Sea salt
- 3 1/2 ounces spaghetti, linguine, or pasta of choice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium (3 oz) banana shallot or 2 to 3 smaller shallots finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove finely chopped
- A pinch of chile flakes
- 1 medium (8 oz) zucchini roughly grated or chopped
- Leaves from a few sprigs of fresh basil
- Grated zest* and juice of 1/2 small unwaxed lemon preferably organic
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Parmesan cheese grated, to serve
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts toasted, to serve
- Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water and drain the pasta.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-low heat, warm 1 tablespoon olive oil, add the shallot and cook until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and chile flakes and cook for 1 minute more.
- Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the zucchini, season with salt and pepper, and cook just long enough for the zucchini to soften and absorb some of the flavor from the garlic, shallot, and chile, 4 to 7 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, add the basil leaves and allow the basil to wilt slightly. Add the lemon zest and juice.
- Add the pasta to the skillet. Stir, adding a little pasta water, if necessary to thin the sauce.
- Serve hot, with plenty of grated Parmesan and pine nuts scattered on top.
*What's the best way to zest a lemon?Some people have big opinions on this—on this very site, you might not be surprised to learn. But what our fearless leader says is true—most of us are using our zesters wrong. The problem is that we're holding the zester upside down. That's right...You should be holding the lemon beneath the zester and the zester above it, with the channel facing up (grates facing down). That way, you're not continually having to check how much zest you've removed. Use your lower hand to rotate the lemon as you zest to your heart's desire.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
I was having company for dinner and had planned to make grilled lemon basil chicken. I hadn't decided on side dishes and then I saw this recipe for spaghetti with zucchini, lemon, and basil. I know it sounds like a lot of lemon and basil for one meal but it actually worked out very well.
I like the idea of having my starch and vegetable in one dish, makes things easy. I used rotini pasta because that is what was in my pantry. I think a small pasta like this might be a better choice because it is easier to get a complete bite without the sauce slipping off. This pasta dish is light and fresh. The lemon flavor was understated, the toasted pine nuts gave it a nice crunch.
The recipe says to grate or chop the zucchini. I chopped mine rather small but I think I'd leave it in bigger pieces next time for more texture. This dish would be great with many different vegetables. I'll be trying it again with asparagus, yellow squash, eggplant, and/or tomato. There are so many possibilities. I doubled the recipe for the 4 of us and I'm glad I did as there wasn't much leftover. I served the grilled chicken sliced on top of the pasta with a Caesar salad and my guests raved.
I LOVED this easy pasta with very few ingredients but loads of flavor! The spaghetti with zucchini, lemon, and basil comes together in no time, looks and tastes great and it's made with ingredients I usually have on hand. What more could you want? Easy enough for a weeknight, tasty enough to serve to company.
Orginally published June 28, 2021