Vegetarian Zucchini Pasta

cooking_iconThis is a traditional Neapolitan recipe for vegetarian zucchini pasta popular in 19th century Napoli.  It’s simple, quick and delicious.  Total cost is around 6€, feeds two and takes around 30minutes.  Prices listed are for Dublin, Ireland.  Let’s get started.



  • 300g of spaghetti pasta (we use Garofalo) – 2€
  • 400g of fresh zucchini – 2.5€
  • 30g of unsalted butter – 0.50€
  • 30mg of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 x spoons each of parmesan, pecorino cheese – 1€
  • fresh basil, salt, pepper, mint
  • 1 x whole garlic

Prep Work:  Zucchini and Cheese
Wash and chop your zucchini and grate both the pecorino and parmesan cheese like below.

Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)

Prepare Your Pan
Important:  Here you will be frying the entirety of your zucchini in portions, by frying 1/4 of your zucchini at a time (or appropriate size for the pan) and cycling it out – rinse/repeat until you finish all of it.  Take a heated pan with olive oil (several minutes on med-high, enough to fry) and place a portion of your chopped zucchini inside.

Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)

Fry the Zucchini
Let it simmer and fry for a few minutes and then add your whole garlic and mint leaves.  Add the rest of the zucchini in portions appropriate for your pan after a the first batch looks like the ones below.  You will want to save off portions of the cooked zucchini (be careful not to fish out all the mint and garlic).  The hardest part of all of this is not eating all the zucchini that’s being put away while you cook the newer batches, because it will smell and taste awesome.  When this is almost finished start boiling water for the pasta in parallel.

Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)

Cook the Pasta
You’ll want to cook the pasta in a traditional way for only half of the time, the other half will be spent in the same pan that you cooked the zucchini.  Timing is important here, it’s good to re-use the zucchini frying pan as this is a white pasta and needs more grease, this also adds flavor.  Keep track of what equals to half of the cooking time, this will be how long you finish cooking the pasta in the pan.

Below, you will pull the pasta directly from the boiling water into the pan and 30g of butter.  The pan must still retain enough heat on medium-high to fry.

Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)

Next, you’ll add 1-2 cups of the boiling water directly into the pan along with the grated parmesan and pecorino cheeses and mix.  Take a small amount of pecorino aside (you’ll add this on top later).

Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)

Finish Cooking the Pasta in the Pan
You’ll continue to cook the pasta in the pan for 5minutes (or half of the listed pasta cooking time).  It will start to gain a cream quality and continue smelling awesome.  After your cooking time is reached, add the zucchini, basil and pepper.

Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)

Mix, Serve, Enjoy
Mix and serve with a bit of pecorino cheese on top.

Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)Pasta Zucchini (Neapolitan)

About Will Foster

hobo devop/sysadmin/SRE
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