Special Guest Post: Zucchetti

After several weeks of traveling and vacation, Graham and I have made it to our new home in North Carolina!  And while I am super-excited to try out our new kitchen, the moving van just dropped off all of our stuff yesterday, so we haven’t had time to do much cooking, let alone writing blog posts.  But because we know you are all dying for a new tasty, easy, healthy, and green recipe, we were thrilled when our good friend Suzanne offered to cook and prepare a post for us.  Graham and I know Suzanne from grad school (she was actually responsible for introducing us!), and our friendship has thrived in part because of our common love of yummy vegetarian fare.  We can’t wait to try out the recipe that she prepared!


This recipe captured my attention back in May, when my little zucchini plants were just starting to grow.  It was hard to imagine that from such humble beginnings, so much summer harvest would soon appear.  But now it has — and it doesn’t get any more local than your own backyard!

It was also intriguing to imagine zucchini ribbons replacing pasta, which we eat more than our fair share of in this house.  My brother had raved about a squash-based pasta he’d had at a raw foods restaurant in NYC, so I had high hopes that this would be similarly successful.  And few flavor combinations say “summer” like tomatoes and basil; with olive oil, garlic and lemon zest too, it sounded like a winner.

I used a vegetable peeler to achieve the “papardelle-like” shape described by the recipe author.  I wasn’t too impressed by the looks of the zucchetti in the bowl at this stage, fearing I might end up with an unattractive pile of shreds on our plates.

However, by the time it was sautéing on the stove with the olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes, it was looking much more appealing.  It was very quick to make – less than 15 minutes from start to finish.  The perfect timeframe to get a pot of water boiling for the porcini and truffle ravioli we had along with it.  Yes, I said we eat plenty of pasta around here!  The recipe described it as a “vegetarian main dish,” but for people who can’t eat nuts (allergies here) it is really more of a vegetable side dish.

Once it came out of the pan and was mixed with the chopped basil, lemon zest, with tomatoes and cheese sprinkled on top, it looked quite beautiful.  And the taste was similarly striking: bright and fresh with the lemon and basil, with a nice “al dente” bite to the zucchetti, and a savory parmesan finish.  The freshness and acidity of the tomatoes and lemon made an excellent counterpart to the earthy richness of the ravioli we paired it with.  It’s definitely something I will make again!


Adapted from The San Francisco Chronicle Food Section, May 29, 2011.

(2 large side-dish servings)

  • Olive oil for sautéing
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • ½ – 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 medium zucchini
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped basil (I used about 20 leaves)
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped mint (I didn’t have any, but imagine it would be great as well)
  • Zest of one small lemon
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
  • One small tomato, chopped or several cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Thoroughly wash and dry the zucchini. Cut off the ends, and using a mandoline with a julienne attachment, slice the flesh into thin spaghetti-like strips. You can also use a knife: Cut 2 or 3 slices from each side, stack them together, then julienne.  Or, use a vegetable peeler to create thin papardelle-like ribbons.  Be sure to cut only down to the core – you do not want to include any seeds.  (I did include some seeded portions to avoid wasting so much zucchini, and they taste fine, but don’t hold their shape well).

Heat the olive oil in a medium-size pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic slices and cook until fragrant but with no color, about 1 minute more.  Add the red pepper flakes.

Add the zucchini, along with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until just tender, about 7 minutes.

Remove from the heat, add remaining ingredients, and toss. Serve warm, or refrigerate overnight and serve as a lunch salad.

Per serving: 188 calories, 8 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 13 g fat (3 g saturated), 5 mg cholesterol, 126 mg sodium, 4 g fiber.

Tasty Easy Healthy Green Recipe Ratings:

Recipe Report Card Notes About Recipe Ratings

Tasty Rating


Four Chefs (Delicious!)

We loved the brightness of the flavors; a summer recipe to make again for sure.

Easy Rating


Four Easy Chairs (“ABC, Easy as 123…”)

Easy-to-find ingredients and quick preparation.  I did simplify the recipe a bit from the original, but don’t think it suffered taste-wise.

Healthy Rating


Four Apples (Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise)

Simple, healthy ingredients.  We used a decent amount of oil to sauté, but not much cheese was needed to perk up the flavors due to the tasty lemon zest and basil.

Green Rating


Four Leaves (Mother Earth Approved)

The zucchini, basil, and tomatoes were local and organic.  The olive oil, garlic and lemon were organic, but may not have been local.  The parmesan was not organic, but it was made with hormone-free milk.
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8 comments to Special Guest Post: Zucchetti

  • Marta

    You made it to North Carolina! Hooray!

    I love the looks of this recipe, especially since zucchini is so in season.

    Just this weekend I tried making zucchini flowers. I stuffed them with one of those small round fresh mozzarella pieces, dipped them in egg and flower, and fried them in olive oil. Then I squeezed lemon juice on top and salted them… so, SO good!

  • Looks delicious! I have lots of zucchini from the garden and will most likely have this tonight with dinner. Thanks for the great idea.

    Glad to hear your move went well!

  • Glad you made it to NC safely! This zucchini pasta sounds so good – I’ve been wanting to do that with vegetables for so long!

  • I love the idea of adding basil and mint…I will definitely try this dish to get my husband to eat zucchini ;-)
    Hope you are having a wonderful week Sally!

  • So, how is the weather in NC ? I am assuming pretty humid. I am seeing so many zucchini dishes made with such different ideas and this too looks lovely and sounds yummy.

  • I love basil and tomato, thanks for the recipe cant wait to try it. keep up the great blog…

  • I’m glad to hear you got there safely! This dish looks delicious and I love the fresh flavours and beautiful colours!

  • [...] being a student!), and has written a guest post for us before.   I am a big fan of her previous recipe, and can’t wait to try out these yummy (and relatively healthy) fall treats [...]

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