Whole-Wheat Pasta with Zucchini

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Zucchini
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whole-wheat pasta with zuchinni
Dinner cooked in about 10 minutes!

Summer squash: those plants that keep on giving. Everyone has stories about summer squash (or zucchini, if you will); some of them are even funny, although most are more of “oh, no, not more squash,” variety. Since we pretty much get what we get from the CSA, during the summer we have zucchini. And, just as when you grow it, we have our struggles finding ways to use it.

But, this week, we had a copy of The Little Book of Lunch, by Caroline Craig and Sophie Missing, that we’d borrowed from the library, and we found this recipe that they suggested as a dish to bring to lunch. Now, we’ll fully admit that, for most meal-like dishes, we use the recipes as guidelines; a suggested lunch might end up as dinner, or vice versa. And, that’s the way it should be; after all, we’re the ones eating it, right?

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Zucchini

Yield: 2 large servings

Whole-Wheat Pasta with Zucchini


  • 1 batch whole-wheat pasta dough, shaped into chitarras (or spaghetti)
  • salt
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 large zucchini, cut into thin strips
  • Zest and juice from half a lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • Green tops from 1 scallion, sliced
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or Grana Padano)

Abbreviated Instructions

Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. When boiling, add chitarra and cook according to directions, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water when draining (if you're using homemade pasta, test for doneness often and remember it might take only 2 to 3 minutes). Try to time everything so the pasta will be done at the same time the squash is cooked.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until tender, about 2 minutes. Add zucchini, lemon juice, zest, and black pepper. Cook until squash is tender, about 2 minutes, then add walnuts and green onion.

Add pasta and reserved pasta water, sprinkle dill on top and cook, stirring, until broth thickens, about 1 minute.

Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese.


Ingredient discussion:

mise en place
This dish is fast to make, so do all your prep work in advance.

For our pasta, we used half white whole-wheat flour and half all-purpose. We find that the texture is better than trying to make pasta with all whole-wheat flour. For the lemon, if you can, buy one that’s organic, as you’ll be eating the zest. You know, the part that’s sprayed with stuff that kills insects. Otherwise, wash with soap and water to remove the wax coating. The walnuts are our addition; we happen to love them in almost any dish, savory or sweet, and a handful will never go amiss. Try it.

Procedure in detail:

boiling pasta
Time your pasta so it’s pretty much done when the squash is done. Either will hold for a few minutes while the other one finishes, so don’t sweat it too much.

Boil pasta. Bring a large kettle of salted water to a boil. How much salt? We add about 2 teaspoons for a half gallon of water. Now, you’ll have to think about timing for your dish. You want the pasta cooked and drained about the time the squash is finished cooking, and that takes only a few minutes. Plus, you’ll need to reserve a half-cup of the water in which the pasta cooks. We find it easiest to scoop out a half-cup of water right before draining the pasta. So, with those two things in mind, once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook, until it’s done to your taste. We like it with just the slightest bit of chewiness left in the center of the noodle.

Sauté garlic. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, until tender, about 2 minutes. You don’t want the garlic to burn, as burnt garlic doesn’t taste very good, so watch closely.

adding squash and lemon zest
There’s a lot of flavor in the zest of citrus; don’t let it go to waste by throwing it away.

Add squash, juice, and zest. When the garlic is ready, add the zucchini, lemon juice and zest, and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the squash is tender, but not so long that it’s falling apart. It should take only a couple of minutes. If your pasta has a while to go, reduce the heat to a minimum to keep the squash mixture warm.

adding walnuts and onions
Walnuts are a great addition to nearly everything. Toss some into your next dish!

Add walnuts and onions. Now that the pasta is almost done, add the walnuts and green onions and stir to coat.

adding pasta
The pasta water will thicken, making a light sauce.

Add pasta and water. Scoop off that half-cup of water and set it aside, then drain pasta. We just used a fork to scoop out the pasta directly into the skillet; it brought along some pasta water, so we adjusted accordingly. Once the pasta is in place, add the reserved water, sprinkle the dill on top, and stir and cook until the liquid thickens.

Serve. Divide between two heated bowls, topping with grated Parmesan cheese.

The only thing we didn’t like about this dish was the dill. To us, it seemed odd and out of place in an otherwise Italian-style dish. But, other than that, this makes for a nice quick dinner, one in which you don’t even realize that you’re eating zucchini, since it blends right in with the pasta — that’s one of the reasons it’s nice to use spaghetti shapes. We’ll be making this again, albeit without the dill, so four stars, and thanks to The Little Book of Lunches for the recipe idea.

Worth the trouble?

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