When bumper crops of zucchini roll in, you need ideas. Here’s how I created a fresh-from-the-garden zucchini pasta bursting with Italian flavors.
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They say if you have to buy zucchini, you don’t have any friends. I was pretty good at being friendless—or rather, good at having non-gardening friends—until we started our local community garden. Now we get lots of zucchini!
Zucchini pasta is one of my favorite ways to use this vegetable. First, I’ll walk you through my recipe. Below you’ll find more recipe ideas for using up your bumper crop.
Make Your Own Italian-Inspired, Grain-free Zucchini Pasta
I think zucchini pairs especially well with Italian flavors like tomatoes, garlic, and herbs such as basil and oregano. Thoughts of Italian flavors somehow seem to lead to pasta, and this bumper crop seemed like the perfect opportunity to experiment with making zucchini pasta. These noodles are sometimes playfully referred to as “zoodles”.
The Vegetable Spiralizer
While I have one friend at the community garden who pushes her extra zucchinis on me (to my delight!), another dear garden friend supported my grain-free lifestyle in another way—by gifting me with a spiralizer!
Here is my review of the Veggetti: It’s a simple design with no moving parts. It is easy to figure out how to use, and easy to clean. I imagine it will last a long time, making the low price extremely appealing. The downside is that the opening is only about 2 1/4 inches wide. Because of this, any zucchinis that have a larger diameter don’t fit through it.
I ended up slicing the larger zucchinis by hand into small matchsticks. Half of my pile of zucchinis went through the spiralizer, while the other half sliced into matchsticks.
The spiralizer does quick work of smaller-diameter vegetables that can fit through it. On the other hand, making matchsticks by hand with the larger zucchinis significantly increased the overall processing time. This makes me wonder how using the Veggetti compares to using the Paderno or another brand of spiralizer. If you have a veggie spiralizer, I’d love to hear more about the model you use in the comments below.
Roasting Zucchini Noodles
Most vegetable pasta recipes will have you either saute them, or simmer them in sauce until they are al dente. I wanted zucchini pasta with a little more oomph, so I played off of this recipe that suggested roasting them.
Zucchini has a high moisture content, and zucchini will be more flavorful if you get rid of the extra moisture.
Consequently, I roasted the noodles for 30 minutes at a low temperature and squeezed out the moisture. Then I added olive oil, increased the oven temperature, and roasted them again until they started to brown.
I was really happy with how they turned out. If you think you’ll miss the pasta, think again! Bonus: Use your extra carb credits on a glass of vino!
Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic
Tomatoes and garlic both have a rich flavor when roasted, and are irresistible together. Zucchini is a blank canvas with a mild flavor that is just waiting for this colorful combo to bring it all together. I tossed chopped tomatoes with minced garlic in olive oil and salt, then roasted them until browned. Delicious all by itself! Or add roasted tomatoes and garlic to any Italian-inspired meal. I suggest using it to top omelettes, any protein source, or even salads.
I’ve included detailed instructions for roasting both zucchini noodles and tomatoes with garlic in my recipe below.
Recipe: Zucchini Pasta with Roasted Garlic and Tomatoes
- 2 pounds zucchini or other summer squash, spiralized or sliced thinly
- 2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
- couple handfuls of fresh basil, chopped (optional)
- parmesan cheese, freshly grated (optional)
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Cover two cookie sheets with paper towels and divide the zucchini noodles between them. Spread the noodles evenly, then sprinkle with salt.
- Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the cookie sheets from the oven.
- Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
- Transfer the noodles to a cheesecloth or lint-free pastry towel, then squeeze the noodles over the sink to release the extra moisture.
- In a mixing bowl, use your hands to “fluff” the noodles, then mix in 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. Transfer back to the two cookie sheets (without paper towels this time).
- In a 9-x-11-inch casserole dish, mix tomatoes, minced garlic, and the remaining 2 Tbsp. of olive oil. Spread evenly, then sprinkle with salt.
- Place the cookie sheets of zucchini noodles and the casserole dish of tomatoes and garlic in the oven and roast for 30-45 minutes, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned.
- Return the zucchini noodles to the mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes and garlic, and gently mix together. Add salt to taste.
- Top with fresh basil and parmesan before serving.
Rounding out the Meal:
Zucchini pasta with roasted tomatoes and garlic makes an excellent side dish topped with a handful of chopped basil leaves and grated fresh parmesan. We rounded out the meal by adding roasted chicken breast with melted mozzarella cheese.
A Note on Preserving Zucchini
I freeze extra zucchini for use throughout the winter. Shredded zucchini will be used in baking, while the matchstick zucchini will be frozen for use in soups, stews, quiches, and stir-frys. Just thaw it before using and squeeze out the extra moisture.
Zucchini can also be dehydrated. Shredded, dehydrated zucchini is easily added to soups and stews. I also like to make seasoned, dehydrated zucchini chips—like cucumber chips—which make a delicious and healthy alternative to potato chips.
How to Use Zucchini? Let me count the ways.
Here are a few of my other go-to recipes:
- flourless chocolate zucchini muffins
- grain-free lasagna
- zucchini pancakes
- zucchini & carrot crustless quiche
More amazing zucchini recipes:
- Cheesy Garlic Zucchini Bread
- Chevre Cheese & Grilled Zucchini
- Crisp Onion & Zucchini Pizza
- Healthy Breakfast Muffins
- Zucchini Bread or ‘Simply the Best’ Zucchini Bread
- Zucchini Fritter in a Cast Iron Skillet
- Zucchini Gummy Candy
Zucchini is obviously a really versatile vegetable. The cookbook From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce suggests trying it, “…raw, broiled, steamed, fried, grilled, sauteed, or stir-fried.”
Does that get your creative juices flowing? What’s your favorite way to use zucchini?