Lemon Zucchini Pasta

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Lemon zucchini pasta is a light and flavorful dish that combines tender pasta, fresh zucchini, and a tangy lemon sauce. This dish is perfect for a quick and easy weeknight meal, and the combination of flavors is sure to please everyone at the table.

a hand holding a bowl of bowtie pasta with browned zuccini slices, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and herbs on a table next to a fork and a lemon cut in half
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Bowtie Zucchini Pasta with Lemon Butter Sauce

This pasta is also versatile, and can be easily adapted to suit different dietary needs or preferences. It can be made with a variety of pasta types, and the addition of protein such as shrimp or chicken can also be added. Lemon zucchini pasta is a delicious and healthy dish that is perfect for any occasion.

bowtie pasta with browned zuccini slices, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and herbs in a bowl on a table next to a fork and a lemon cut in half

How to Make Lemon Zucchini Pasta

  • Bowtie pasta: It is the main ingredient of the recipe and provides the base for the dish. It has a chewy texture and absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients well.
  • Olive oil: It is used for cooking the zucchini and garlic, adding flavor and moisture to the dish.
  • Zucchini: It is a type of squash that is used in the dish to provide a fresh and slightly sweet flavor. It also adds a nice texture to the dish.
  • Garlic: It provides a pungent and slightly sweet flavor to the dish, and is a staple ingredient in many pasta dishes.
  • Fresh thyme: It is an herb that adds a savory and earthy flavor to the dish. It pairs well with zucchini and garlic.
  • Crushed red pepper: It adds a spicy kick to the dish, and can be adjusted to taste.
  • Butter: It adds richness and flavor to the dish, and helps to create a creamy sauce.
  • Lemon juice: It provides a bright and tangy flavor to the dish, and helps to cut through the richness of the butter and cheese.
  • Parmesan cheese: It is a hard and salty cheese that adds a nutty flavor to the dish. It also helps to thicken the sauce and add richness.
  • Fresh parsley and toasted pine nuts: These are used for garnish and add a nice texture and flavor contrast to the dish.

After gathering your ingredients, we will use the following process:

  1. Make pasta. Bring a large pot of very salty water to a boil. Cook the bowtie pasta until al dente, according to the package directions. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water. 
  2. Brown zucchini. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the zucchini. Cook the zucchini for 2 minutes, then stir and cook for an additional 2 minutes. We want a hard sear on the zucchini so make sure not to stir it too much. 
  3. Make sauce. Next add the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for an additional minute. Next add the butte??r, lemon juice, and ¼ cup of reserved pasta water. Stir until the butter has melted. Next add ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and stir it into the sauce. Add the pasta and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the sauce becomes too thin, add another splash of reserved pasta water. 
  4. Serve. Serve the pasta with the remaining grated parmesan, fresh chopped parsley, and toasted pine nuts. Enjoy immediately.
  5. Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. 
a hand holding a fork scooping up pasta with zucchini and herbs in a white bowl

Tips and Tricks to Perfect Lemon Zucchini Pasta

Cook the pasta al dente: Cook the pasta until it is tender but still has some bite to it. Al dente pasta will give the dish a nice texture and prevent it from becoming mushy.

Don’t overcook the zucchini: Cook the zucchini until it is just tender but still has some crunch to it. Overcooking the zucchini will cause it to become mushy and lose its flavor.

Use fresh ingredients: Use fresh zucchini, garlic, and thyme to ensure that the dish has the best flavor.

Adjust the spice level: Adjust the amount of crushed red pepper flakes to your taste. If you prefer a milder dish, use less pepper flakes.

Add some extra flavor: Toasted pine nuts and fresh parsley add a nice crunch and flavor to the dish. Sprinkle them on top before serving.

Add some protein: If you want to make the dish more filling, you can add some protein such as grilled chicken or shrimp.

FAQs

Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?

Yes, you can use any type of pasta you prefer. However, bowtie pasta works well with this recipe as the grooves in the pasta help to hold the sauce.

Can I use dried thyme instead of fresh?

Yes, you can use dried thyme instead of fresh. However, you may want to use less as dried herbs are more potent than fresh.

Can I make this recipe vegan?

Yes, you can make this recipe vegan by substituting butter with vegan butter and parmesan cheese with a vegan parmesan alternative.

Can I add other vegetables to this recipe?

Yes, you can add other vegetables to this recipe such as cherry tomatoes or asparagus. However, make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

While it’s best to serve the lemon zucchini pasta fresh, you can make the sauce ahead of time and reheat it when ready to serve. However, the zucchini may become mushy if cooked too far in advance.

bowtie pasta with browned zuccini slices, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and herbs in a bowl on a table next to a fork and a lemon cut in half

What to Serve With Lemon Zucchini Pasta

Bread: A classic easy bread recipe like Yeast Rolls, No Knead Bread, or Khachapuri Georgian Cheese Bread is a perfect side that pairs well with any pasta dish, including lemon zucchini pasta.

Grilled vegetables: Grilled vegetables such as asparagus, eggplant, or bell peppers make a great complement to the fresh and light flavors of the pasta.

Salad: A crisp salad with a simple vinaigrette dressing like our Salade de Chèvre Chaud can help balance out the richness of the pasta dish.

White wine: A light and crisp white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc can be a refreshing accompaniment to lemon zucchini pasta.

Lemon tart or sorbet: For dessert, a lemon tart or sorbet – or some Lemon Bars – can be a refreshing way to end the meal while keeping the lemon flavors consistent.

bowtie pasta with browned zuccini slices, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and herbs in a bowl on a table next to a fork and a lemon cut in half

Lemon Zucchini Pasta Recipe

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bowtie pasta with browned zuccini slices, parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and herbs in a bowl on a table next to a fork and a lemon cut in half

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bowtie pasta in a white bowl with zucchini slices, pine nuts, herbs
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Lemon Zucchini Pasta

This bowtie pasta bowl is packed with meaty zucchini, tart lemon, and salty parmesan.
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Keyword cheesy pasta, pasta salad, salad, veggie pasta salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 410kcal
Author Courtney O’Dell

Ingredients

  • 1 pound bowtie pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups zucchini cut into ¼” thick half moons
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ lemon juiced
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh parsley and toasted pine nuts for garnish

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of very salty water to a boil. Cook the bowtie pasta until al dente, according to the package directions. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of starchy pasta water. 
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the zucchini. Cook the zucchini for 2 minutes, then stir and cook for an additional 2 minutes. We want a hard sear on the zucchini so make sure not to stir it too much. 
  • Next add the garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for an additional minute. 
  • Next add the butte??r, lemon juice, and ¼ cup of reserved pasta water. Stir until the butter has melted. 
  • Next add ¼ cup of parmesan cheese and stir it into the sauce. Add the pasta and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
  • If the sauce becomes too thin, add another splash of reserved pasta water. 
  • Serve the pasta with the remaining grated parmesan, fresh chopped parsley, and toasted pine nuts. Enjoy immediately.
  • Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 410kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 26mg | Sodium: 277mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g

About Courtney

Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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