This quick zucchini butter pasta is an easy summer weeknight meal that comes together in the time it takes to boil your pasta. The zucchini pieces are cooked quickly to retain their crunch and the buttery sauce is flavoured with lots of garlic and a sprinkle of chilli flakes.
Hello! I am writing up this quick and easy buttery zucchini pasta which is the perfect mid week dinner. It's the middle of winter here but for some reason there are lots of zucchinis around so that makes me very happy.
They truly are one of my favourite vegetables ever and throwing them into a sauce at the last minute retains their lovely crunch. Cutting them into different sizes turns one ingredient into two as the rounds tend to soften down while the little cubes stay crunchy.
The butter sauce is flavoured with zingy lemon, lot of garlic and an optional sprinkle of chilli flakes. Fresh basil and lots of parmesan finish it off perfectly, as does a crisp glass of wine!
What pasta shape is best?
Use anything you love or have lurking in the cupboard. Any shape, fresh or dried will work with this sauce. I have used my one true love, homemade orecchiette, because I had some hanging out in my freezer.
It can be a tricky shape to get the hang of but once you have, life is great! My semolina pasta dough is really easy to bring together and if the orecchiette looks a bit tricky try my hand rolled gnocchi sardi. The perfect beginner shape.
Butter - Use unsalted or salted. I tend to favour unsalted so I can control the seasoning myself. Just know you'll need to add a good pinch of salt if you use unsalted.
Garlic - I LOVE garlic so I have used 3 - 4 cloves. Use more or less depending on your preference. Please use fresh cloves, jarred garlic is just not the same.
Chilli Flakes - I only use ¼ tsp as I just want a little hum and it gives just enough in my opinion.
Lemon Juice - Fresh is always best! It brightens up the whole sauce. I love to finish the top of pasta dishes with the zest too.
Zucchini - I have used two small/medium zucchini, I've given a weight to be precise. I cut one into little cubes and one into slices.
Basil - Basil is the dream summery herb to finish this plate off.
Parmesan - It should be illegal to finish a pasta dish without parmesan?!
How to make this quick zucchini butter pasta
- Get your pasta cooking in a pot of well salted water. This sauce doesn't take long so figure out how long your pasta takes to cook then start the sauce when it has 5 or so minutes left.
- Melt the butter in a frying pan and when almost melted, add the garlic and let it gently sizzle for 30 seconds.
- Add the chilli flakes and again, let them gently sizzle for 30 seconds.
- Add the lemon juice and whisk really quickly, I love to use a flat whisk when making butter sauces.
- Add the zucchini pieces and gently cook until warmed through but not soft.
- Add the cooked pasta straight into the sauce and let it gently bubble away for a minute or two.
- Take it off the heat and toss the half the torn bail through, reserving the other half for the top.
- Top with lots of freshly grated parmesan and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
Tips for success
- As always, have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go. It might seem like it makes it all take longer but the sauce is so quick so it's good to have everything laid out neatly.
- Salt your pasta water well. I use a good heaped tablespoon, it seasons the pasta.
- Don't have your heat too high. You want a gentle bubble, just a medium heat and turn it to medium low if it feels too hot.
- When mixing liquids into butter, ie here with the lemon and pasta water, you want to agitate it quite vigorously. I shake the pan and whisk at the same time. You want all three liquids to become one.
- Undercook your pasta by a minute. I like to finish it off IN the sauce for a minute or two, so undercook it ever so slightly.
- Heat your plates! I always think this sounds so boring but pasta gets cold QUICK. Have your plates/bowls heating in a warm oven while you cook.
Why do I weigh my pasta?
I like accuracy OK?! It might seem an over the top step but isn't guessing how much pasta to boil kind of stressful? With weighing out your portions it means you'll get the perfect pasta to sauce ratio and that makes me happy always. Why do I give weights for fresh and dry pasta? Simple! Dried pasta, being dry, will expand and take on water so you need less of it to start.
Fresh pasta already has liquid in it, be it fresh eggs or water so you need slightly more of it as it won't change much in weight like dried pasta will. Most people do 100g dried per person or 150g fresh per person. I sometimes do more like 110g dried per person, we all know I love big portions.
Absolutely! I tend to test for two as that is how many people are in my house and I hate to waste food.
You can use either! I tend to use unsalted as I like to control the seasoning myself. Some salted butters can be overly salty and it's not something you can take away. Just know if you use unsalted you'll have to add a nice big pinch or two of salt to sauce.
Zucchini really does shine in this recipe but you could use broccoli or green beans you might just need to cook them slightly longer in the butter.
Want some other pasta sauces to try?
If you loved this quick zucchini butter pasta then make sure you check out the rest of my butter sauces. If I had to choose the next one for you to make? My balsamic cherry tomato pasta is seriously good. As is my easy white wine and butter pasta sauce, it's an absolute classic you need in your repertoire. You can't go past my classic 10 minute brown butter for pasta.
Made this recipe and loved it?
I would love love LOVE if you could leave me a review down below and let me know what you thought! I love to hear any changes or adaptions you have made too. Also if you put a photo on instagram, please tag me so I can see, it makes my day!Print