Zucchini penne pasta is a vegetarian dinner option perfect for fresh summer squash. It's tangy and perfect for hot summer days when you want to eat a lighter meal.
This zucchini penne is the perfect light dinner on any hot summer evening. Enjoy it with a glass of wine from the back porch and watch the sunset in the distance.
Modified from my Lemon Garlic Butter Pasta, this recipe harnesses a wonderful balance of savory, tangy, and buttery flavors in every bite.
While we usually turn zucchini into delicious quick breads like Amish Zucchini Bread and Old Fashioned Zucchini Bread, sometimes we take a more savory route. This dish is one of our Delicious Summer Squash Recipes that we come back to year after year.
🍯 Why This Recipe Works
- It's easy to make. Boil pasta in one pot and saute some veggies in another, and by the time the pasta has finished cooking, you can toss everything together and serve.
- It goes great with lighter side dishes. Pair your meatless pasta dinner with some toasted air fryer garlic bread and a simple green salad for a complete meal experience. You can even serve some Chocolate Crockpot Lava Cake for an easy after-dinner dessert.
- It's a frugal recipe. This dish is great for helping to trim down the grocery budget. At less than $1 per serving, this recipe is perfect for meatless Mondays.
Pasta- You'll need a box of dry pasta for this recipe. I recommend using penne pasta, but any pasta type or variety should work just fine.
Pasta Water- Before draining your pasta, reserve some water. This will help to make the sauce stretch and adhere to the pasta better.
Parmesan cheese- I recommend using shredded parmesan cheese (from the cold deli section of your grocery store) as it will melt and taste better than the dried parmesan from a can.
Cherry Tomatoes- Using cherry tomatoes will give us a vibrant burst of color and tangy flavor to bring the recipe full circle with complementary flavors. We love adding cherry tomatoes to savory dishes like Scrambled Eggs with Spinach and Tomatoes and Tilapia and Spinach with Cherry Tomatoes.
For specific ingredients and measurements, please see the recipe card below.
For a meaty variation, you can add in some sliced turkey sausage. Slice them into coins and add them to the pan with the zucchini so they can cook and become caramelized. Yum!
By swapping out the reserved pasta water for heavy cream, you can get a creamy pasta variation.
🔪 Instructions for Zucchini Penne Pasta
Step 1: Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in your penne pasta.
Step 2: Cook as directed on the product packaging until al dente.
Step 3: While the pasta is cooking, prepare the zucchini mixture.
Step 4: Wash your zucchini and slice it in half. Remove the ends.
Step 5: Chop each zucchini half into ¼ inch thick slices. Set aside for now.
Step 6: In a large pan, add your olive oil, butter, and minced garlic.
Step 7: Sautee together until the butter has melted and the garlic is fragrant.
Step 8: Add in the zucchini, salt, and pepper.
Step 9: Cook for about 8 minutes until softened.
Step 10: Add in halved cherry tomatoes during the final minute or two of the zucchini cooking.
Step 11: Cook for the remaining time and allow the cherry tomatoes to soften.
Step 12: Reserve ½ cup of pasta water before draining the pasta into a colander. Add drained pasta to the pan with the zucchini and tomatoes.
Step 13: Add in the lemon juice and water. Mix well to combine.
Step 14: Add in the shredded parmesan cheese.
Step 15: Mix well until the pasta is evenly coated.
Serve warm and enjoy.
🍴 Recipe Tips
Adding salt to your pot of boiling water will help to make the pasta taste even better.
You'll want to heat the zucchini over medium heat (about 350F). Too hot will cause it to burn, and too low won't cook it fast enough to be finished when the pasta is ready.
If you finish your zucchini before the pasta is finished, you can turn the heat off and let the pan rest on the warm burner until you're ready to combine everything.
This pasta is very easy to reheat in the microwave. We like to add a serving or two of it to a plate and heat it for about 1-2 minutes.
For larger serving sizes, I'd recommend placing the pasta in a large pot over medium heat on the stove with a few tablespoons of water or butter. Reheat until warmed through.
⏲️ Make Ahead Instructions
You can precook the pasta and rinse it in cold water before storing it in a gallon sized zipper topped baggie in the fridge overnight.
You can chop the zucchini the night before too. Just keep it in an airtight container in the fridge.
Then when you go to make your meal, you can have it on the table in about 10 minutes.
Keep any uneaten pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat again before serving.
💭 Recipe FAQs
Thanks to the smooth skin of zucchini, they are one of the easier veggies to clean. Just run them under cool running water and brush your hand or a soft brush along the sides, tops, and bottom to remove any dirt.
Yes! Zucchini skin is where most of the benefits like to hide. While you can peel the skin, there's no reason to because it's so thin and will easily soften as it gets cooked.
Yes, a zucchini and courgette are the same thing. The term "courgette" is commonly used in British English and some other parts of Europe, while "zucchini" is the preferred term in American English. Despite the difference in names, they refer to the same summer squash, which is a versatile and mild-flavored vegetable.
❤️ More Delicious Pasta Recipes
If you tried this zucchini penne pasta, please leave a ⭐️ star rating and share your feedback in the 📝 comments section below. I would truly appreciate it!
Zucchini Penne Pasta
- 16 ounces Penne noodles ($0.98)
- ½ cup Reserved pasta water ($0.00)
- 2 large Zucchini, chopped ($1.78)
- 4 Tablespoons Butter ($0.37)
- 1 Tablespoon Olive oil ($0.14)
- 4 teaspoons Garlic, minced (4-5 cloves) ($0.32)
- 1 teaspoon Salt ($0.01)
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper ($0.04)
- 1 cup Cherry tomatoes, halved ($2.98)
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon juice ($0.06)
- ½ cup Shredded Parmesan cheese ($0.74)
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add in your penne pasta.
- Cook as directed on the product packaging until al dente.
- While the pasta is cooking, prepare the zucchini mixture.
- Wash your zucchini and slice in half. Remove the ends.
- Chop each zucchini half into ¼ inch thick slices. Set aside for now.
- In a large pan, add your olive oil, butter, and minced garlic.
- Sautee together until the butter has melted and the garlic is fragrant.
- Add in the zucchini, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 8 minutes until softened.
- Add in halved cherry tomatoes during the final minute or two of the zucchini cooking.
- Cook for the remaining time and allow the cherry tomatoes to soften.
- Reserve ½ cup of pasta water before draining the pasta into a colander. Add drained pasta to the pan with the zucchini and tomatoes.
- Add in the lemon juice and water. Mix well to combine.
- Add in the shredded parmesan cheese.
- Mix well until the pasta is evenly coated.
- Serve warm and enjoy.
- Try sliced turkey sausages for a heartier version. Cook with zucchini for a meaty addition.
- For a creamy twist, replace pasta water with heavy cream.
- Add salt to boiling water for better pasta flavor.
- Heat zucchini at medium heat (350°F); avoid burning or undercooking.
- Rest zucchini on a warm burner if ready before pasta.
- Microwave for 1-2 minutes or warm on the stove with water/butter for larger portions.
- Precook pasta and refrigerate in a bag. Store zucchini separately.
- With these steps, dinner's ready in 10 minutes.
- Keep leftover pasta airtight in the fridge, good for 5 days. Reheat as needed.