Just ask Stanley Tucci.
Zucchini pasta
Credit: Getty / OatmealStories

One of the first vegetables to appear in spring and then stick with us all summer long is zucchini. I love how flexible this tender healthy vegetable is: You can eat it raw or cooked, and it has a mild delicate flavor that is wonderful on its own but can stand up to other bolder flavors. It's no wonder that it features in so many world cuisines, from fried slices dunked in fiery garlic skordalia in Greece to the ubiquitous ratatouille in the South of France.

If you have watched Stanley Tucci eat the famous Pasta Alla Nerano on his show Searching for Italy, (and if you have not I strongly recommend you do), you know that zucchini and pasta can be a match made in heaven. For me, as a type 2 diabetic who needs to eat low-carb, zucchini and pasta are even more of a godsend. Because I can use zucchini to effortlessly bulk up all my pasta dishes, allowing me to eat more volume without risking my health.

And you can do it too!  Whether you want to lighten the calorie load on your favorite pasta dishes, get more vegetables into your diet, or just add a bit of freshness to some old favorites, now is the perfect time to embrace all that zucchini has to offer your pasta recipes. And the best part? It is super simple to do.  


Swap in between 1/3-1/2 of the volume of pasta in your recipe with zucchini.

Yep. Just that easy. 

How to add zucchini to any pasta shape 

From spaghetti and linguine to wagon wheels, here are all the ways to prepare and add zucchini to your pasta plate. 

Making any long noodle like spaghetti or linguine?

Use spiralized zucchini to replace a portion of the noodles. And here's the easiest part: Just line the bottom of your colander with the zucchini noodles and drain your cooked pasta over them; the heat from the water and noodles will cook the zucchini just enough to make it tender but not mushy. Then sauce however you like, and those zucchini strands will twirl up with your pasta adding a bit of volume but no carbs and minimal calories. For someone like me, for whom pasta maxes out at a paltry one-cup serving, being able to bulk it up with zucchini gives me back my full-bowl entrée feeling.

Working with a short shape like ziti or penne?

Cut the zucchini into little batons the same general size as your noodle and add them to the pasta in the last minute of cooking.

Having orecchiette, wagon wheels, or farfalle?

Go with either thin rounds or half-moon shapes to mimic the size and shape of your pasta and use the same method as for spiralized noodles.

Making pasta salad?

Don't worry about cooking the zucchini at all! Toss it in with the hot pasta and the dressing and it will absorb the flavor and be a wonderful addition.

Once you start swapping in zucchini for some of your pasta, you'll find you like how much lighter the dishes land on your tummy, and your body will thank you for the bonus fiber and nutrients.

Great pasta recipes perfect for swapping in zucchini

Want some inspiration for great spring pastas that might get some benefit from a zucchini swap-in? Try one of these great recipes!