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!

Hands holding white plate with spicy roasted zucchini pasta.

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!

Ingredients shown: plum tomatoes, mozzarella, garlic, onion, Pecorino, ziti, zucchini, basil, and parsley.

How to make it

Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.

  1. 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.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the zucchini with a 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil until coated.

Roasted zucchini pasta recipe process shot collage group number one.

  1. Spread the zucchini out on parchment paper-lined baking sheets and season with salt and pepper.  
  2. Roast the zucchini for 20-25 minutes on the lowest oven rack or until well browned.  
  3. 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).  
  4. 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.

Recipe process shot collage group number two.

  1. Add a 28-ounce can of tomatoes (hand crushed or blender pulsed) to the pan and bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.
  4. If the pasta is too dry, add a splash of the reserved pasta water.  Add a 1/4 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese.  

Recipe process shot collage group number three.

  1. Add the cubed mozzarella and toss again.  
  2. 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!

Large pan of roasted zucchini pasta with a lot of basil on top.

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!

Overhead shot of roasted zucchini pasta in white plate with large pan and basil on the side.

More zucchini recipes

If you love zucchini as much as we do, try these other fantastic zucchini recipes!

If you’ve enjoyed this roasted zucchini pasta recipe or any recipe on this site, give it a 5-star rating and leave a review.

We strive to satisfy a number of learning styles.  If you are someone who prefers to learn by watching, you can find most of our recipes on YouTube and our Facebook Page.

Roasted Zucchini Pasta

5 from 7 votes
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 35 minutes
Servings: 4
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. 

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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!

Notes

  • 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

Calories: 719kcal | Carbohydrates: 99.4g | Protein: 21.3g | Fat: 30.1g | Saturated Fat: 5.2g | Cholesterol: 7mg | Sodium: 419mg | Potassium: 701mg | Fiber: 7.5g | Sugar: 11.9g | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 5mg

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

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17 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Hi Jim and Tara. Made this recipe last night and at it came out great! Easy to prepare and delicious. The smoked mozzarella was worth tracking down. It made the dish! My Italian husband had two helpings. I love all your recipes. Everyone I’ve made so far as been spot on.

  2. 5 stars
    Just made this for the first time last night and it was a HUGE hit. My husband went back for seconds and thirds and couldn’t stop raving about how good it was. I couldn’t find any smoked mozzarella locally so we had to go with regular, but it was so delicious! This one is going into our permanent rotation!

    1. Hi Crystal, thanks for the comment! I’m so happy you and your husband enjoyed the recipe and you’re adding it to your rotation!

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe was great! They don’t have Calabrian chili paste at my grocery, but I made some by blending whole chilis that were in a jar. Thanks, I will make this again.

    1. Hi Jo, if you can’t find it in a local grocery store, you can find it in my shop which is linked here on the website from the home page under “shop” in the ingredients section.

    1. Hi Salina, thanks for the comment. The pan I used in the video is a Vigor but is expensive to ship. I have a very similar pan in my shop, made by Winco, that’s linked here on the site.

  4. 5 stars
    OMG I made this with homemade cavatelli pasta and it is so good! Perfecto! Thank you Jim. I grew up in Flushing, Queens and moved away 42 years ago. Your recipes remind me of dishes I grew up having but haven’t had in a long time. It’s been great to make your recipes and all have been delicious so far. Thank you!

    1. Not a fan of smoked mozzarella. Can I substitute 12 ounces of shredded mozzarella? Cannot wait to try this recipe,

        1. 5 stars
          This recipe was incredible. Substituted shredded mozzarella and crushed red pepper. Definitely adding to one of my go to meals. Your r pies are easy to follow and so tasty. Just like mom used to make,

    1. Hi Leslie, the parsley can be added at the same time as the basil at the very end. I updated the recipe to add this step. Thanks for letting me know!