Temperatures are spiking and, as much as I love to cook, I’m having a hard time facing the kitchen in the summer heat. Take out isn’t the only answer. You can still get a homemade meal on the table—even in the dog days of summer—with this practically no-cook Summer Zucchini Pasta.
This satisfying vegetarian recipe is adapted from one of my current favorite cookbooks, Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson. When I first noticed the recipe, I couldn’t believe how easy it was.
Toss together with Parmesan.
Could something so extremely simple also be good?
Yes. Extremely good.
Though subtle, this dish is packed with fresh summer flavor. It’s about as light as pasta gets, and is packed with in-season zucchini that tangles with the pasta in a way that actually went over well with the kiddos. (Mine aren’t big fans of sliced zucchini. Maybe it’s the texture? Thoughts?!)
I added lemon zest and even finished the dish with a squirt of fresh lemon juice. Next time, I plan on adding crumbled feta instead of Parmesan. Doesn’t that sound good, too?!
Either way, crank up the A/C, commit to a quick cook, and give this a try.
Practically No-Cook Zucchini Pasta
Recipe slightly adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
3 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
1 pound of long pasta, such as linguine
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for finishing
1 large clove of garlic
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Zest ½ a lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
Juice of ½ a lemon (optional)
1. Put grated zucchini in a colander, sprinkle generously with salt, let sit in the sink for at least 10 minutes.
2. Cook the pasta: Bring one gallon of water seasoned with 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil. Add pasta, stir, then begin measuring cooking time; for al dente pasta, cook 2-3 minutes fewer than indicated on the package. Drain pasta saving 1 cup of cooking water. Do not rinse the pasta; set aside. (You can also cook the pasta up to 2 days ahead of time—instructions here.)
3. Heat olive oil, garlic and red pepper, if using, in a large skillet set over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Squeeze the zucchini in your hands to eliminate any excess liquid. Add it to the skillet and cook until tender, about 3 more minutes.
4. Add the pasta to the pan along with a little bit of the pasta cooking water. Toss to distribute the zucchini throughout the pasta. Add the butter and cheese and toss again. If your sauce is still a little dry, add a touch more pasta cooking water. (A tip! If you find that you’re adding a lot of cooking water, you can add a dash of chicken broth to keep from watering down the flavor of the dish.) Season with lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. If you want to add more lemon flavor, you can also add a bit of fresh lemon juice. Toss to combine and serve sprinkled with Parmesan.