Who doesn’t love trying a new pasta recipe?  Lemon Spaghetti with Fresh Raw Zucchini – delicious, crisp and perfect for summer.

Lemon Spaghetti with Raw Zucchini featured image.

The zest from the lemons, the garlic base of the sauce, the extra virgin olive oil, and the freshest summer zucchini make this a dish you will crave all year long.  Let’s go make it!

That Garlic Lemon Spaghetti Flavor

A few things.  The garlic and the fresh lemon zest are bold flavors.  Lemon zest is such an unassumingly powerful ingredient.  To me, it just screams freshness.  When the zest combines with the extra virgin olive oil and garlic, magical things begin to happen.

That magic is further enhanced when the zucchini is added.  This dish works so well because of the thin slices of zucchini.  Basically, the heat from the pasta cooks the zucchini ever so slightly, preserving its crispness.  Some chopped parsley and the dish is done.

Ingredients: zucchini, lemons, and garlic.

Vegetable peeler being used on the zucchini.
The vegetable peeler makes perfect slices.
Lemon zest and zest tool.
Lemon zest is so important in this dish.

Lemon Spaghetti With Zucchini Ingredients:

Get some fresh zucchini – you can tell zucchini is fresh if it is firm to the touch.  Green or yellow would work fine but I prefer the color contrast the green provides.

Grab about ten cloves of garlic.  What can I say? Garlic is awesome.

2-3 lemons juiced and zested. I have two different types of zesters – one that acts more as a grater, and this one which gives nice long strands of zest which works best for this dish.

Extra virgin olive oil, some fresh chopped parsley and of course salt, pepper, and pasta water.

That’s right – before draining the pasta, reserve 3 cups of pasta water.  The starchy water will be used to make the sauce.  Without it the pasta would be dry, so it’s essential to save it.

Finally, unless you are preparing a vegan meal, you’ll want to serve a bunch of freshly grated, good parmigiano-reggiano on the side.  You can never go wrong with cheese on pasta.

Lots of chopped garlic.
Chop up about ten cloves of garlic.
Garlic being sauteed in pan.
Get the garlic golden, but don’t burn it.
The spaghetti and garlic mixed together in the pan.
Mix all that garlic together with the spaghetti, salt and pepper.

Lemon Spaghetti Process:

This pasta dish has only a few steps.  The most important thing is to prep the ingredients while bringing the pasta water to a boil.  By doing this the whole dish can be made very quickly.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of kosher salt.

Shave zucchini into strips with a vegetable peeler.  A mandoline would work even better if you have one.  After all the shaving is done cut most of the pieces in half.  Four inch pieces are perfect.  A few long stragglers add to the visual interest.

Zest and juice two lemons.

Coarsely chop 10 cloves of garlic and saute in 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat until golden.

Reserve 3 cups of pasta water when spaghetti is finished cooking.  I like to reserve in a large coffee mug.

Add drained spaghetti to the pan with the garlic and saute for 30 seconds mixing all the garlic with the spaghetti.

Add 2 cups of pasta water, stir, then add the zucchini.  Mix it all around to incorporate.  Turn off the heat and add lemon zest, half the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and parsley.

Bring pan to the table and cover with a lid for 2 minutes.  This will allow the sauce to absorb a little bit into the pasta making it even better.

Before serving add 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and stir it all together.  Adjust salt and pepper if needed.  Also you still have 1 cup of pasta water and half the lemon juice to adjust the sauce if needed.

All done.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti, lemon zest and fresh zucchini are shown in the pan.
The fresh zucchini and lemon zest are added.
Lemon Spaghetti with Raw Zucchini plated up.
Plated up and ready to be devoured.


Drink Pairings:


Give it a star rating.

Lemon Spaghetti with Raw Fresh Zucchini

4.50 from 2 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Lemon Spaghetti with Fresh Zucchini. A perfect summer meal!  Bold flavors from garlic, lemon juice, zest, and extra virgin olive oil.  The fresh raw zucchini is cooked ever so slightly at the end to finish this delicious pasta dish.


  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 2 large lemons
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cups pasta water
  • 3 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 10 cloves chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt


  • Cook Spaghetti according to directions.
  • Peel zucchini into strips with vegetable peeler or mandoline.  Cut strips in half.  Keep a few full length for visual interest.  Zest and juice 2 lemons and set both aside.
  • Chop 10 cloves of garlic coarsely and saute in large pan on medium heat with 2 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.  Saute until golden brown.  Do not burn garlic, turn heat down if necessary.  If garlic is finished before the pasta, turn off burner temporarily.
  • Reserve 3 cups of pasta water before draining.  Once drained add pasta to pan with garlic and mix together.  
  • Add zucchini, lemon zest and half the lemon juice.  Stir for 30 seconds and turn off heat. Remaining lemon juice can be used at the end if more lemon flavor is called for.
  • Add 2 cups of the pasta water, salt, pepper, and parsley.  Stir and cover at table for 2 minutes.  This will help the sauce stick to the pasta.
  • Remove lid and taste pasta.  Adjust salt and pepper if required.  If pasta is a little dry add some more of the pasta water.  If it needs a little more lemon flavor use some of the reserved lemon juice.
  • Finally add a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil onto the pasta, stir it together and serve.  Can be served with grated parmigiano-reggiano, hot pepper flakes, and some lemon wedges.  Enjoy!


Calories: 460kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 16g | Sodium: 250mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. Mary Garlanda says:

    4 stars
    You didn’t say how much pasta. I used l lb. Served 4 generously. Thanks for a great recipe.

    1. James says:

      Thanks for that. I just updated the recipe and yes it calls for 1 pound of spaghetti.