Savor the flavors of summer just a little longer with this zucchini and corn pasta. Sweet and tender zucchini and corn are tossed with pasta in this heartier, veggie-laden riff on cacio e pepe. This late summer pasta is an easy and delicious 30-minute meal that even your pickiest eaters will approve.
I bet you thought zucchini season was over, eh? NOPE!
The kids might be back in school and the nights might be just a tiny bit crisper, but late summer produce is still, well, producing, so you might as well savor it.
If you’re so totally over zucchini bread and you really cannot muster up the enthusiasm for another round of grilled corn, then pack it up and move along because we just can’t be friends. Just kidding. Kind of.
Or, you can make this late summer pasta with zucchini and corn. This recipe is a riff on cacio e pepe, but with short pasta, lots of sweet tender vegetables, and as much basil as you can stand.
We’re talking bite tender vegetables and a creamy, dreamy sauce made with just a handful of real, whole foods. It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s healthy. A delightful ode to the end of summer.
Ingredients for Making Pasta with Zucchini and Corn
This pasta recipe requires just ten whole foods ingredients and is so comforting and luxurious. For best results, use the freshest produce you can find and good quality parmesan cheese.
- Short Pasta: Classic cacio e pepe is made with spaghetti or bucatini, but they’re not the best fit for this recipe. To ensure you get a bite of crunchy corn and tender zucchini in every bite, use a short pasta like penne, gemelli, or rotini. Orecchiette and shells would work too. Cook to just a minute or two below al dente for best texture.
- Corn on the Cob: Ya gotta use fresh cobs, yo. They’re sweet, tender, juicy and bring so much flavor to this dish. Slice from the cobs using a sharp knife.
- Zucchini: The fresher the better! Select small, firm squash with vibrant color.
- Fresh Grated Parmesan Cheese: So here’s the one “hard” part about this recipe – you must freshly grate the parmesan cheese and do so finely in order for the texture of the sauce to turn out. The pre-shredded stuff from the grocery store won’t work. A little goes a long way, so do splurge on a premium block of parmesan cheese, then grate using a microplane.
- Fresh Torn Basil: I like torn basil for topping because the act of tearing releases the oil in the leaves, resulting in incredibly fragrant, peppery, pungent basil. Give it a try.
The Pantry Staples
- Olive oil
- Sea Salt
- Fresh Cracked Pepper
Useful Tools for Making This Recipe
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How to Make Summer Pasta with Zucchini and Corn
This riff on cacio e pepe packs a nutritional punch thanks to heaps of late summer produce. Sweet and tender zucchini and corn are the perfect accompaniments to creamy, peppery parmesan pan sauce. This pasta is ready in under 30 minutes, and even picky eaters love it.
Prepare the Pasta: Cook a half pound of pasta according to package instructions, but cook to one minute below al dente. Before draining, reserve one cup of pasta water. To do so, dip a ladle into the pasta water, then transfer to a measuring cup or bowl.
Step 1: Heat a 12″ skillet over medium high heat. Sautee diced zucchini and corn kernels in a splash of olive oil until the vegetables are bite tender (about 5 minutes). Add fresh garlic and sautee with the vegetables for 1 minute more. Remove the vegetables using a slotted spoon and transfer into a serving bowl.
Step 2: Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the skillet. Add the cracked black pepper and toast for one minute.
Step 3: Pour a half cup of reserved pasta water into the skillet. Whisk vigorously for one minute.
Step 4: Add the vegetables and cooked pasta to the skillet and toss with the butter sauce. Turn off heat.
Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl. Add the grated parmesan cheese to the pasta then gently fold using a rubber spatula until a creamy sauce comes together. If the sauce is too thick, add additional reserved pasta water, a small splash at a time.
Note: Don’t perform this step in the skillet. The heat from the skillet may congeal the cheese, and a creamy sauce won’t form. Additionally, the extra room in the serving bowl will help you thoroughly toss the sauce with the pasta and vegetables.
Once the sauce forms, taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Lastly, stir in a generous handful of fresh torn basil leaves.
Tips for Making Zucchini and Corn Pasta Perfectly
- Cook the pasta to 1 minute below al dente (see your package instructions) – it will finish cooking when you toss it with the pasta water and butter sauce in the skillet.
- Don’t overcook the zucchini or corn. You’ll want them to be bite tender for best flavor.
- You must use fresh, finely grated parmesan cheese, preferably using a microplane, for the right sauce consistency. Do not use pre-grated parmesan – it won’t melt, and the sauce will turn out lumpy.
- Be sure to transfer the pasta to a serving bowl before adding the parmesan cheese. The heat from the skillet could cause the cheese to congeal, preventing a smooth and creamy sauce from forming.
- As written, this recipe is medium peppery. It’s not quite as peppery as traditional cacio e pepe, but about a step below. Feel free to scale up or down to your preference.
More Recipes You’ll Love
Hold onto summer just a bit longer with these late summer classics:
- Sweet Corn Soup
- Gluten Free Fried Green Tomatoes
- Grilled Corn Salad
- Roasted Tomato Soup
- Grilled Zucchini Salad
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Late Summer Zucchini and Corn PastaPrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1/2 lb short pasta
- 2 tbsp sea or kosher salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 medium zucchini, diced
- 2 ears sweet corn, sliced from the cobb
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 1/2 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 c torn basil leaves
- Bring four quarts of water to a boil in an 8-quart pot. Add the salt and pasta. Cook pasta to 1 min below al dente (see package instructions). Reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain.
- Heat a 12" skillet over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the diced zucchini and corn kernels. Sautee, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are bite tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sautee 1 minute more. Remove vegetables using a slotted spoon and set aside in a large serving bowl.
- Add butter to the skillet and heat until it melts. Add the black pepper to the butter and toast for 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to the butter and pepper. Simmer for one minute.
- Add the cooked pasta and sautéed vegetables to the pan sauce. Toss to coat, cook for 1 minute, then remove from heat.
- Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl, then add the parmesan cheese. Fold the cheese into the pasta until a creamy sauce forms. If the sauce is too thick, add additional pasta water, a small splash at a time, until the consistency is creamy, but thin, and lightly coats the pasta and vegetables. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Stir in the fresh basil and serve immediately. Leftovers keep well in a covered contained in the fridge for up to three days. This recipe does not freeze well.
- Cook the pasta to 1 minute below al dente - it will finish cooking in Step 4.
- Fresh, finely grated parmesan cheese is a must! Use a microplane to grate the cheese for best results. Do not use pre-grated parmesan - it won't melt, and the sauce will turn out lumpy.
- Be sure to transfer the pasta to a serving bowl before adding the parmesan cheese so that the heat from the skillet does not cause the cheese to congeal.
- As written, this recipe is medium peppery, so scale up or down to your preference.