This Summer Pasta makes the best of your garden bounty, with fresh tomatoes, zucchini, and basil!
Whether growing in our backyard or picking up at farmers’ markets, we have an overflow of zucchini and tomatoes. This easy pasta recipe also features fresh oregano and basil, fresh garlic, and optionally, kalamata olives. Bringing them all together is flavor harmony!
Now, you know I’m a big fan of zucchini and summer squash. As you can probably tell from some of my most popular posts, including two types of zucchini bread and zucchini fritters.
I love the neutral flavor of zucchini, as compared to other vegetables like cruciferous veg, bell peppers, and carrots.
With this more neutral flavor, zukes are like vegetable chameleons! In this Summer Pasta, the chopped zucchini softens down with the tomatoes and garlic, and almost melts in your mouth.
Although named “Summer Pasta”, in fact, this recipe can be made any time of the year. It’s just that tomatoes, zucchini, and basil are abundant right now, and especially fresh and flavorful.
As for the type of pasta you use for this dish: I like cut whole-grain pasta, like penne or rotini. But you could use a long noodle such as spaghetti or fettuccine.
The wine in this recipe is used just for flavor. The alcohol simmers off, reducing exquisite flavor into the simmered vegetables. However, I do give you an option to substitute in the FAQ section, below.
Summer Pasta FAQ
Yes! In fact, I love using yellow summer squash or pattypan squash better than green zucchini, just for color.
It’s really a personal preference. If you need gluten-free pasta, brown rice is an obvious choice. I like pasta blends with brown rice and quinoa. Whole wheat pasta tastes a little grainier and nuttier than standard semolina pasta. I might not use legume-based pasta (ex: chickpea) as I find they break down and become quite mushy. A legume-blend pasta (ex: red lentil and brown rice) would be a better choice.
The wine cooks down and the alcohol burns off. However, if you don’t want to use wine, try a good quality white grape or apple juice combined with a small splash (about 1/2 tbsp) of red wine or apple cider vinegar.
In general, I don’t find dry basil substitutes well for fresh. However, if you want to add it, use about 1-2 tsp and add at the beginning of cooking. It will need time to release some flavor; dry basil shouldn’t ever be added to finish a dish, only fresh basil.
Yes. I like the flavor of kalamata olives, but you can certainly substitute.
They are optional, but do add a special umami quality to the pasta. If you don’t want to use them, try adding 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes to the saute. Also, serve drizzled with a balsamic reduction or a sprinkle of vegan parmesan.
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And, enjoy this Summer Pasta! x Dreena 💚
Vegan Summer Pasta with Zucchini
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 6-7 cups diced yellow summer squash or green zucchini see note
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp or more crushed red chili flakes (see note) optional
- 2 – 2 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes or sliced/halved grape or cherry tomatoes
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano see note if using dried
- 7-8 cloves garlic minced
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil see note
- 1 lb dry cut whole-grain pasta ex: penne, rotini, bow-tie
- 2-3 tbsp olive brine optional
- 1/2 cup halved or chopped pitted kalamata olives optional
- Extra salt / pepper to taste for finishing ; extra basil leaves for finishing
- In a large pot or saute pan over high heat, add the wine, diced squash/zucchini, and salt and pepper. Cool uncovered over high heat for 8-9 minutes, until zucchini has started to soften, stirring occasionally.* If mixture is sticking, add a teaspoon or two of water as needed (usually do not need as the zucchini releases a lot of moisture).
- Reduce heat to low. Add tomatoes and fresh oregano and stir through. Then add garlic and stir through. Cover pot, increase heat to medium-low, and let cook for another 8-9 minutes, until the zucchini and tomatoes have softened and developed a chunky sauce-like texture. Once pasta is cooked and drained, add it to this mixture and stir through. Add basil, olive brine, and olives if using. Taste, adding extra seasoning as desired. Serve with an extra topping of olives or fresh sprinkle of basil leaves (see other serving ideas below).
- *While the zucchini and tomatoes are cooking, you can begin to prepare the cooking water for the pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. As you finish cooking the tomatoes, begin cooking the pasta according to package directions. Once just cooked through (or al dente), drain pasta.
Mary Joy says
I had this for dinner the other night and it was delicious! The tomatoes were sweet and juicy, and the zucchini added a nice crunch. I also added some chili pepper to give it an extra kick of heat. It’s such a refreshing dish for a hot summer day, and they were delicious. Plus it’s super easy to make.
Dreena Burton says
Hi Mary Joy, thank you for the lovely review. I’m so happy you enjoyed it, I love how light yet satisfying it is. Thank you.
Nancy B says
I want to try this recipe today. By the way, I think you mean ‘cook’ not cool. In a large pot or saute pan over high heat, add the wine, diced squash/zucchini, and salt and pepper. Cool uncovered over high heat for 8-9 minutes, until zucchini has started to soften, stirring occasionally.*
Indeed I do! Thank you Nancy, I will update.
Kristin Neubauer says
Amazing! For all of my 45 years, I’ve stayed away from olives, but took a chance and tried them in this recipe. Brilliant! Such complex flavors – I feel so satisfied. Thanks, Dreena!
How great! This is wonderful, thanks for the feedback, Kristin.