Because we don’t grow our own vegetables at home, I’m never afflicted with the “zucchini overload” problem that plagues so many gardeners by late summer.
Instead, I buy as much as I want from our local farmstand and eat it with wild abandon. And one of our favorite ways to eat zucchini is to shave it into slivers of ribbons and toss it with pasta.
While plain olive oil and herbs is a fine and a dollop of ricotta is even better, the ne plus ultra of pasta plus zucchini, in our household’s humble opinion, is zucchini alfredo.
Just like the classic recipe for spaghetti carbonara, the traditional method of making fettuccine alfredo doesn’t involve cream at all.
The recipes are kissing cousins in that way—both rely on the heat of just-cooked pasta to turn cheese and other thickening ingredients into a luxurious sauce.
To make zucchini alfredo, then, all you need to do is to add tender, freshly sauteed zucchini strands to freshly tossed pasta, cheese, and butter. It’s really that easy.
You could add more vegetables and turn it into a primavera pasta of sorts, but we are happy to keep it simple in this house.
Zucchini alfredo is one of those meals that seems way more indulgent than it really is. I mean, it’s just five ingredients plus salt and pepper, and it’s no more fancy than making a bowl of mac and cheese.
And yet! It feels like a real treat.
For this zucchini alfredo recipe, you’ll get a much smoother, consistent sauce if you take the time to finely grate fresh Parmesan cheese.
If you’ve had a piece in your fridge slowly drying out for a month, now’s the time to buy yourself a new chunk, because the cheese’s moisture content is key to the sauce.
Don’t use the already-grated cheese from the deli section. I mean, never use the “cheese” in the plastic cylindrical containers, but that should go without saying.
And I’m telling you to grate 2 ounces (57 grams) by weight because we don’t all have the same kind of grater. What might be 1 cup of Parmesan to me with my handheld Microplane rasp might be 3/4 cup to you with a different type of box grater or whatnot.
Just get a kitchen scale, and your life will be infinitely better! It’s what I keep saying!
So chop off a chunk of Parm, grate it down, and go to town. And when you’re done, why not make some zucchini and eggs?
- 1 pound zucchini
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 ounces (57 grams) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 8 ounces (227 grams) fettuccine
- kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- Bring a large (4- to 6-quart) pot of water to a boil over high heat.
- While you wait for the water to boil, shave the zucchini into ribbons with a julienne shredder or mandoline and set aside.
- Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes and place in a large heatproof bowl. Set aside.
- Finely grate the Parmesan cheese and set aside.
- When the water comes to a boil, throw in a handful of kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook just until al dente.
- While the pasta cooks, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Stir in the zucchini and a generous pinch of salt, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes to soften the zucchini.
- Uncover and cook until the zucchini is tender and most excess moisture has evaporated. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- When the pasta is al dente, scoop out 1/2 cup of pasta water and reserve. Have the bowl of butter, Parmesan, and pasta water ready on the counter.
- Using tongs, transfer the fettuccine to the bowl with the butter and start tossing to melt the butter and coat the strands.
- While you do so, shake in the Parmesan a few tablespoons at a time and continue to toss, incorporating the cheese into the sauce that's forming.
- Add pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce and make it creamier. You likely won't need the entire portion, but it's always different with each batch.
- Once all the cheese has been added, toss the zucchini with the pasta to combine.
- Divide between 4 bowls and garnish with freshly ground black pepper.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 236Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 242mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 5g
The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.