Roasted zucchini pasta is a wonderful way to use up all that summer zucchini! Bite-sized pieces of zucchini are roasted and tossed with ziti in a spicy marinara sauce along with cubed mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, and fresh basil. Easy to make in about 35 minutes, this pasta is always a huge hit in our home and we know you’ll love it too!
Summer is here and so are the zucchini!
Roasted zucchini pasta was borne out of us having an abundance of zucchini and wanting to try new ways to incorporate it into our meals.
This is a bit of a riff on the Sicilian classic, Pasta alla Norma, which is made with eggplant and ricotta salata.
In this recipe, we’ve replaced the eggplant with zucchini and used cubed smoked mozzarella and Pecorino Romano cheese in place of the ricotta salata.
And because we love spice, we added some Calabrian chili paste to the sauce; this is optional so if heat is not your thing, skip it and it will still taste great. I promise!
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Preheat your oven to 450f. Slice 5 medium zucchini in half, lengthwise, and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Slice the zucchini into half-moons about 1/2 inch thick bite-sized pieces. Mince 1/4 cup of flat-leaf Italian parsley and slice 3/4 pound of smoked mozzarella into cubes and set both aside for later.
- In a large bowl, toss the zucchini with a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil until coated.
- Spread the zucchini out on parchment paper-lined baking sheets and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast the zucchini for 20-25 minutes on the lowest oven rack or until well browned.
- Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons of kosher salt per gallon of water) to boil. Dice one medium onion and slice 5 cloves of garlic. In a very large pan, saute the onions in a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil over medium-low heat until translucent (about 5 minutes).
- Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until lightly golden. If you’re making the spicy version and using Calabrian chili paste, add 1-2 teaspoons (depending on your taste) into the oil and cook for 30 seconds more.
- Add a 28-ounce can of tomatoes (hand crushed or blender pulsed) to the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- While the sauce is simmering, cook 1 pound of ziti (or other pasta) to 1 minute less than al dente. Taste test the sauce and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add the pasta taking care to reserve at least 1 cup of pasta water.
- Add the zucchini to the sauce and give a toss to coat. Cook for 60 seconds or until the pasta is al dente then turn off the heat.
- If the pasta is too dry, add a splash of the reserved pasta water. Add a 1/4 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
- Add the cubed mozzarella and toss again.
- Add about 10 hand-torn fresh basil leaves and the parsley and toss again. Serve immediately with more Pecorino Romano and Calabrian chili paste on the side. Enjoy!
Top tips for perfect pasta with roasted zucchini
- The zucchini. We used zucchini a little larger than we would like for this recipe because that was what was available to us. Large zucchini can be used but be sure to remove the seeds and cut them into bite-sized pieces to ensure even roasting. Smaller zucchini are great for this dish as well, and with those, you can forgo removing the seeds.
- The cheese. If you can find smoked mozzarella, we encourage you to use it with roasted zucchini pasta since it adds yet another layer of flavor. If not, you can use regular block mozzarella. For the grating cheese, we used Pecorino Romano but if you prefer Parmigiano Reggiano you can use that.
- The spice. Calabrian chili paste adds flavor and heat to this dish. If you’re not into heat you can skip this ingredient. Alternatively, you can use hot red pepper flakes.
- The pasta. Any tubular pasta will work well for the recipe. Ziti, rigatoni, or penne would all be great. Just make sure to reserve pasta water when cooking since you may need it to loosen up the sauce if it dries out at all. We repeat this in almost every pasta recipe because it really is that important!
More zucchini recipes
If you love zucchini as much as we do, try these other fantastic zucchini recipes!
- Spaghetti alla Nerano – Fried zucchini discs in a butter sauce with basil and caciocavallo cheese.
- Ratatouille – French vegetable stew with zucchini, eggplant, squash, tomatoes, peppers and onions.
- Zucchini Parmesan – Like eggplant parm, but with zucchini!
- Ricotta Stuffed Zucchini boats – Lemon, ricotta, breadcrumbs, parsley and garlic stuffed into zucchini and baked.
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Roasted Zucchini Pasta
- 1 pound ziti or penne, rigatoni, et.
- 5 medium zucchini seeds scooped out and cut into half moons
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 medium onion diced
- 5 cloves garlic sliced
- 1-2 teaspoons Calabrian chili paste optional
- 1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
- 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano grated
- 3/4 pound smoked mozzarella cubed, can sub regular mozzarella
- 10 large basil leaves hand torn
- 1/4 cup flat leaf Italian parsley minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup reserved pasta water
- Toss zucchini with a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Season zucchini with salt and pepper and roast for about 20-25 minutes at 450f on the lowest oven rack or until well browned.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons kosher salt) to boil.
- In a very large pan saute the onions in the remaining olive oil over medium-low heat until translucent (about 5-6 minutes) then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more or until lightly golden. If using, add the Calabrian chili paste into the oil and cook for 30 more seconds.
- Add the tomatoes to the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer stirring occasionally.
- While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta until 1 minute less than al dente.
- Taste test the sauce and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add the pasta and roasted zucchini to the sauce and toss to coat. Cook for 60 seconds or until just al dente, then turn off the heat. If the pasta is too dry add a splash of pasta water. Add the Pecorino Romano cheese and mix together.
- Add the cubed mozzarella cheese, parsley, and basil. Toss once more and serve immediately with more Pecorino Romano and Calabrian chili paste on the side. Enjoy!
- 5 medium zucchini will equal about 5 cups after removing seeds and cutting into half moon sized pieces.
- Ziti was used, but any tubular-shaped pasta works well.
- If you can find it, smoked mozzarella is even better than regular in this pasta.
- Calabrian chili paste can be subbed with hot red pepper flakes.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.