The Summer Squash Pasta Recipe That Tastes Like Fancy Mac & Cheese

Photo Credit: Alex Lau for Bon Appetit

Published on June 25, 2021

by Geraldine Campbell

I have a tendency to buy up summer produce like it’s toilet paper in the beginning of the pandemic. This seems to be particularly true of summer squash: green zucchini, yellow zucchini, romanesco zucchini, yellow squash, and pattypan squash (they’re just so cute!). Then I get home and wonder what on earth I’m going to do with my farmers’ market haul. Do you do this, too? Maybe you have a garden that’s bursting with zucchini (I am jealous); or maybe you get a CSA and for weeks on end it delivers summer squash.

Whatever the case, if you are here, you have a surplus and you’re wondering what to do with it. The answer is this summer squash and basil pasta from Bon Appetit’s Chris Morocco.

Summer Squash and Basil Pasta Is Basically Perfect

This recipe not only solves your surplus squash conundrum, but also satisfies your summer pasta cravings. It’s light, but indulgent, comforting, but mostly made of vegetables. They key is caramelizing your squash.

To achieve the perfect jammy squash, you want to avoid overcrowding the pan — divide your zucchini into batches if you need to — and let your squash get a good sear before moving them around. After that, let them cook down until they release their water. The recipe calls for 12-15 minutes and you’ll end up with kind of a mushy mess, which will become Alfredo-like when you add the pasta, pasta water, and parmesan cheese. As one reader commented, it tastes like fancy mac-and-cheese, especially when you add a bit of lemon juice and fresh basil to finish.

Get the recipe: Summer Squash and Basil Pasta from Bon Appetit

summer squash rigatoni

Photo Credit: Kitchen Konfidence

My Recipe Notes (to Take or Leave)

My notes are all based on convenience. Right now, everything I am cooking is about ease and using up whatever I have in my kitchen.

1. Use whatever pasta you have on hand.

This recipe calls for paccheri, ziti, or other large tubular pasta. Personally, I don’t usually have paccheri lying around. I might have ziti, and I almost definitely have rigatoni. Those wide, short noodles are toothsome and textured and ready for all the sauce and all the flavor. I especially like Sfoglini Rigatoni.

2. Sub red pepper flakes for Aleppo pepper.

If you have Aleppo pepper, by all means use it. Because I always have red pepper flakes on hand, I’ll typically use those. Or lately I’ve been sprinkling Boonville Barn Collective’s Piment d’Ville on basically everything.

3. Switch up your herbs.

Again, fresh basil is great. But if you have some mint? Try that! If you have kids and need to keep it simple, skip the herbs altogether. I’ll bet you could also add some handfuls of spinach to this if you wanted to sneak in some more veggies.

As a reference point, this version from Kitchen Konfidence (pictured above) makes the first two swaps.

Good food brings people together.
So do good emails.

Good food brings people together.
So do good emails.

Good food brings people together.
So do good emails.