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Spaghetti with Zucchini, Lemon, and Basil

A skillet filled with spaghetti with zucchini, lemon, and basil, with a fork resting in it and a bowl of Parmesan on the side.
Here’s a quick, lemony vegetarian pasta dish that can easily be adapted to other greens: try it with asparagus, broccoli or broad beans when you tire of zucchini.
Signe Johansen

Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 30 mins
2 servings
411 kcal


  • 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.