Smitten Kitchen’s Zucchini Butter Pasta Is the Dish of the Summer

published Jul 7, 2022
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Credit: Sara Tane

We are slowly encroaching upon that time of year when everyone is frantically trying to use up the excess goodies from their gardens. Lucky for you, this zucchini butter pasta by Smitten Kitchen exists and it’s here to save the day. When I first saw Deb teasing this recipe in her Instagram stories, I was in awe of the ingenuity. Grated zucchini cooked down in garlicky butter until it reaches a spreadable, almost jam-like consistency? Then tossed with pasta, Parm, and basil? Please sign me up. So I went to the store, picked up a few zucchinis, and got to work. 

How to Make Smitten Kitchen’s Zucchini Butter Pasta

This recipe only requires a few simple ingredients and it comes together fairly quickly. To start, melt butter in a large skillet, add some minced garlic, and cook until they’re fragrant. Then add coarsely grated zucchini and cook it down until it releases all of its water, the water evaporates, and the zucchini turns to a soft, jam-like texture. While the zucchini is doing its thing, cook spaghetti in heavily salted water until al dente, making sure to reserve a cup of pasta water.

Once the zucchini is good to go, toss in the pasta, pasta water, Parm, and basil, and stir it around with tongs until a glossy zucchini sauce coats the pasta. Serve the pasta in bowls with more Parm and basil. 

Get the Recipe: Zucchini Butter Spaghetti at Smitten Kitchen

Credit: Sara Tane

My Honest Review of Smitten Kitchen’s Zucchini Butter Pasta

You know when a really good song comes out at the very beginning of the summer and everyone is super quick to call it the song of the summer? Even though it’s pretty early in the game and there are likely many more summer anthems coming? That’s how I feel about this recipe. I am ready to proclaim that this is the greatest recipe I will make this summer, although I know that this is risky because there’s still so much summer to be had. But it was that good, and I’m not sure if there’s anything that can top it.

Let’s talk about the zucchini butter mixture: The butter gave it a rich, nutty aroma and the cooked-down zucchini offered a sweet, caramelized flavor, while the whole dish was laced with fresh notes of garlic and basil. I really appreciated that you didn’t need to salt or wring out the zucchini to remove any moisture — all of the excess water is cooked out in the skillet, so there’s one fewer step.

When I was growing up on Long Island, my dad kept a small garden in our backyard and I vividly remember the push every year to use up all of the zucchini and basil that he’d grow. This recipe feels like it’s speaking to anyone with a garden who is desperately trying to keep up with the harvest. It seems like you could truly dump endless amounts of zucchini and basil into this pasta and it would never be enough. Whether you have a garden or not, you’re going to enjoy this summer-forward pasta.

Credit: Sara Tane

Tips for Making Zucchini Butter Pasta

  1. Add a squeeze of lemon. It brightens the whole dish up and balances out the richness of the buttery zucchini.
  2. Get creative with the zucchini spread. The real epiphany of this recipe is the zucchini “jam.” You could easily skip the pasta portion of this recipe and just make the zucchini butter to smear on toast, add to eggs, turn into a yogurt dip — the options are endless.
  3. Use a food processor. Anytime I need to grate several vegetables, I always break out my food processor and set up the grating attachment. It might seem like a hassle to get out the machine, but it ends up saving you so much time and effort. If you have one, use it.
  4. Add more zucchini. Maybe it’s just me, but I like a pasta dish with a whole lot of veggies in it. As is, this recipe has more than enough zucchini, but I felt like I could’ve done with a little more since it cooks down so much. I used three medium zucchinis, but if I make this again, I’ll probably throw in four or five. Frankly, It’s not a matter of if I make this again, but when.

This post was originally published on Kitchn. Read it there: I Tried Smitten Kitchen’s Zucchini Butter Pasta, and It’s the Dish of the Summer