This easy family dinner is made with simple ingredients and perfect for a summer weeknight meal. Pasta with Zucchini is made with fresh zucchini, tender spaghetti and ground Italian sausage in a creamy Alfredo-style sauce.
Zucchini is plentiful during the summer months and one of my favorite ways to serve it for dinner is this easy zucchini pasta recipe. Skip the jarred sauce tonight and make this simple recipe. It requires little effort and is ready to eat in about 20 minutes. Talk about an easy dish!
So take advantage of zucchini season and use them up in your family’s dinner recipes (or desserts, too!). This easy meal reminds me a little of my mom’s recipes. She often included zucchini in our dinners when I was growing up. I wasn’t much of a fan back then, but now I can’t get enough.
If you have your own garden, use other fresh vegetables in addition to the zucchini. The more, the merrier! Just make sure they are veggies that can be cooked in the same amount of time as the zucchini or cut in smaller pieces than you normally.
Why You’ll Love Creamy Zucchini Pasta
- Easy recipe to make when you want to get dinner on the table quickly
- The creamy sauce has the best flavor with hints of fresh garlic and lots of zucchini
- A flavorful dish for your summer meals
- Great way to use up zucchini from your garden or the farmer’s market
- Simple, fresh ingredients
- Can be made meatless for Meatless Mondays
- Spaghetti pasta
- Mild ground Italian sausage
- Yellow onion
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Chicken broth
- Heavy cream
- Salt – I like kosher salt!
- Black pepper
- Lemon – I use half a lemon squeezed, but you can also use 1 tablespoon of bottled lemon juice.
- Fresh parsley (for garnish)
- Parmesan cheese (for garnish)
How to Make Pasta with Zucchini
- Step One: Prepare pasta according to package directions. Set aside.
- Step Two: In a large skillet over medium heat, break apart the Italian sausage into small small pieces while it cooks. Cook until no longer pink (about 5 to 6 minutes) and set aside.
- Step Three: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Saute zucchini, onions, and garlic until the zucchini is golden brown on both sides (3 to 4 minutes). Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Step Four: Lower the heat to low and melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until combined, about 1 minute. Slowly add the chicken broth continuing to whisk to avoid lumps forming.
- Step Five: Whisk in the heavy cream and allow to simmer, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
- Step Six: Squeeze the lemon in the sauce and add the salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked pasta, sausage and zucchini mixture. Garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese and serve.
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Tools you’ll need
What to Serve with Pasta with Zucchini and Sausage
Variations and Substitutions
- Any kind of medium-sized pasta shapes will work for this recipe. Try penne, rigatoni, angel hair or fettuccine.
- For a spicier version, use hot Italian sausage. You can omit the sausage for a meatless version.
- Substitute meatballs or ground beef for the mild Italian sausage.
- Make it low carb by substituting zucchini noodles in place of the spaghetti. I make mine with a Paderno spiralizer. Sometimes the grocery store will have it already spiralized for you.
- Substitute 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder for the minced garlic.
- White wine can be substituted for the chicken broth.
- Half and half or whole milk can be used instead of the heavy cream for a lighter sauce. You may need to use extra flour or allow to simmer longer to thicken the sauce.
- Add some fresh herbs like chopped fresh basil.
- Brighten the flavor with a 1 teaspoon of lemon zest.
- Add some heat with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
- Add cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes for a pop of colour and freshness. Bonus points if they are from your garden.
- Garnish with roasted pine nuts.
- Use 1/2 teaspoon of dried parsley before simmering to replace the fresh parsley.
- Use yellow squash (or any summer squash) instead of zucchini. You could also add them in addition to the zucchini if you like.
Store leftover zucchini pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave for a couple of minutes when you’re ready to enjoy.
Can I Freeze?
Yes, you can! This recipe freezes well. Store in a freezer safe container or freezer bags for up to 3 months. Reheat in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes or until hot. Note: the texture of the zucchini may be slightly affected by freezing, but it should still taste good.
Recipe Tips & Tricks
- Use fresh zucchini for the best flavor. It has a sweeter and more delicate taste than older zucchini. Choose a firm, smooth-skinned zucchini that feels heavy for its size.
- Cut the zucchini into half circles about a half inch thick. Depending on the size of the zucchini, it can be cut into circles or quarters.
- Cook the zucchini separately from the sauce and pasta to ensure it doesn’t get mushy or release too much water.
- You can use the same pan used to cook the sausage to cook the zucchini if you like. After you remove the cooked sausage, add a little water and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any cooked on sausage. I like to use a separate pan to save time and cook my sausage and zucchini at the same time.
- Don’t overcook the pasta. Al dente pasta is the best (firm to the bite) so it doesn’t break apart or become too mushy and soft when the sauce is added.
- Use freshly squeezed lemon juice if you can. Fresh is always better!
- Adding Parmesan cheese at the end gives a nice salty nuttiness and helps the flavors blend together better.
FAQs about pasta with zucchini
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Pasta with Zucchini
- 8 oz spaghetti
- 8 oz mild ground Italian sausage
- 1 zucchini chopped
- ½ yellow onion chopped
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
- ½ lemon
- Fresh parsley chopped, for garnish
- Parmesan cheese grated, for garnish
- Prepare pasta according to package directions. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, break apart the Italian sausage into small small pieces while it cooks. Cook until no longer pink (about 5 to 6 minutes) and set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil. Saute zucchini, onions, and garlic until the zucchini is golden brown on both sides (3 to 4 minutes). Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Lower the heat to low and melt the butter. Whisk in the flour until combined, about 1 minute. Slowly add the chicken broth continuing to whisk to avoid lumps forming.
- Whisk in the heavy cream and allow to simmer, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
- Squeeze the lemon in the sauce and add the salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked pasta, sausage and zucchini mixture. Garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese and serve.