How to make our 20-minute zucchini pasta recipe with garlic, tomatoes, basil, and parmesan cheese. Jump to the Zucchini Pasta Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.
We are in love with this easy recipe. There’s fresh zucchini, tomatoes, basil, parmesan, and lots of garlic. The best part? It only takes 20 minutes to make.
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Guilt-Free, 20 Minute Zucchini Pasta Recipe
This is such a quick and easy recipe. It’s adaptable, too. We love this with 100% zucchini noodles, but a combination of spaghetti and zucchini is great.
This pasta recipe is all about fresh ingredients. The zucchini should be firm and the tomatoes sweet. If you have a hard time finding good, flavorful tomatoes, it is better to use canned. We love canned San Marzano tomatoes as well as the options from Muir Glen.
How to Make Zucchini Noodles
- The easiest way to make zucchini noodles is to use a spiralizer. They make long, curly noodles in minutes. This is a great tool to add to your kitchen.
Here’s the spiralizer that we have in our kitchen. We love it!
- You can also use a julienne vegetable peeler — like this one from OXO. These come in at under $10 and might even be hiding in your kitchen gadget drawer right now.
- Most mandoline slicers will make noodles, too. We have one like this in our kitchen, but you can find even fancier ones online.
- You can also use a standard vegetable peeler and make wide noodles.
Once you’ve got noodles, you’re ready to cook them.
How to Cook Them
Zucchini is mostly made up of water so cooking it can be tricky. Here are our tips for cooking it well.
- Don’t peel the zucchini. Peeled zucchini noodles are mushy and have little crunch. Plus, it adds a step and we’re looking for dinner on the table fast.
- Don’t salt the zucchini ahead or time or while it cooks in the pan. Salt draws out water from the zucchini. This will make it less crunchy when it’s cooked. Since salt makes things taste good, we prefer to salt the sauce and not the zucchini.
- Don’t overcook. The noodles should be cooked to al dente (just like pasta). This means they will looked wilted, but still have a crunch.
Since zucchini has a tendency to become watery, we do our best to reduce this as much as possible in our recipe. Even so, you will still find some water left at the bottom of the serving bowl. This is okay with us. The liquid mixes with tomato, garlic, cheese, and olive oil, so it’s delicious.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: These Parmesan Basil Baked Zucchini Chips. They are easy to make and are the perfect side or snack.
- 4 medium zucchini (about 2 pounds)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 to 4 cloves)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, depending on how spicy you like the pasta
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped, see note (about 12 ounces)
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- 1 cup basil leaves, torn into pieces
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons cold water
- Salt, to taste
- Trim and spiralize the zucchini (see notes below for how to do this without a spiralizer). Cut extra long noodles so that they are about the length of spaghetti.
- Add olive oil, garlic, and the red pepper flakes to a large, deep skillet. Turn to medium heat. When the oil begins to bubble around the garlic, add the zucchini noodles. Toss the noodles with pasta tongs and cook until al dente -- they should be wilted, but still have a crunch; 5 to 7 minutes. Do not let the noodles cook any longer or else they will become mushy. As they cook, keep tossing so that all the zucchini noodles have a chance to hit the bottom of the skillet.
- Stir in the tomatoes, basil, and parmesan cheese. Cook for one minute.
- Use pasta tongs to transfer the noodles, tomatoes, and basil to a serving dish. Leave the liquid in the skillet.
- Bring the liquid to a simmer. Combine cornstarch and cold water in a small bowl then whisk into the simmering liquid. Cook, while whisking, until the liquid thickens to a sauce; about 1 minute. Taste the sauce and season with salt.
- Pour the sauce over the zucchini, tomatoes, and basil. Finish with more parmesan cheese on top and serve immediately.
Don't be surprised if after the pasta has been sitting, liquid collects at the bottom of the serving dish. This is okay with us. The liquid mixes with tomato, garlic, cheese, and olive oil, so it's delicious.