Zucchini Pasta Carbonara

There’s something magical about the combination of pasta, eggs, Parmesan, and cured pork. The flavor base is the salty, fatty pork (in this case prosciutto), noodle-y pasta makes it filling, and a creamy sauce is created with eggs, lemon zest, and Parmesan (the eggs getting sufficiently cooked by the heat of the hot pasta). In the case of this dish, I was looking to use up some of the gloriously yellow patty-pan summer squash from our garden (yes I know the title says “zucchini”, you can use any summer squash for this recipe), as well as some of the garden basil which is still thriving. So good!

Zucchini Pasta Carbonara Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

This recipe uses thinly sliced prosciutto, which works well with the more delicate flavor of the summer squash. But you could also use pancetta (diced), bacon (thin strips), or even thinly sliced ham.

Yum

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • 3/4 pound egg noodles
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/4 pound prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3-4 summer squash, yielding 4 cups chopped squash
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (plus more for topping)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, sliced thin*

* To slice the basil leaves, chiffonade them by stacking basil leaves on top of each other, roll them up into a cigar shape, starting at one end and working your way down the "cigar" take thin slices from the end.

Method

1 To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water (one tablespoon of salt for 2 quarts of water).

2 As the water for the pasta is heating, prep your vegetables and heat olive oil and butter on medium high in a large sauté pan. Working in batches, lay pieces of sliced prosciutto down in the pan. Fry gently on both sides until just lightly browned (no more than a minute, more likely 30 seconds each side, the prosciutto is very thin), remove from pan with tongs or a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Once cool, tear into bite-sized pieces. Reserve oil in the pan.

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3 Add pasta to boiling salted water. The pasta should take about 10-12 minutes to cook until al dente (cooked but still a bit firm), which is just about the right amount of time you'll need to cook the vegetables. Cook with a rolling boil, uncovered.

4 While the pasta is cooking, add the onions, garlic, and summer squash to the sauté pan that you had used to cook the prosciutto. The heat should be medium high. Stir the vegetables so that they are all coated with oil from the pan, then spread them out in the pan, generously salt and pepper them. Cook until they are just lightly browned, stirring only occasionally. Remove from heat.

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5 In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and mix in the grated Parmesan and lemon zest.

6 When the pasta is ready, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid, then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the squash and onions (or add the veggies to the pasta, depending on the size of your pans). Pour the egg, Parmesan, lemon zest mixture over the pasta mixture and quickly stir in with a wooden spoon. The heat from the pasta will sufficiently cook the eggs. Add a little of the reserved pasta cooking water if it looks a little dry. Stir in the prosciutto and basil.

Garnish with more basil and grated Parmesan.

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This recipe was inspired by a fabulous poached egg over homemade noodles with prosciutto at Ella's in Sacramento, and by a farfalle and zucchini recipe by Giulia Melucci in her memoir, I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti.

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Showing 4 of 26 Comments

  • Christeen

    Hi there,

    I tried your recipe tonight; it was my first time attempting any kind of pasta carbonara. I was careful to follow the recipe as closely as possible, since I hadn’t prepared a dish like this before.

    With all the flavorful ingredients used, I was surprised by how potent that lemon zest was. It left a fairly strong lemony aftertaste too. Interesting combination of flavors, and the textures were really nice.

    I really enjoy how you make involved recipes seem more approachable by describing the process and including pictures. Thanks for sharing this neat recipe.

    Christeen

    Hi Christeen, lemon zest is always hard for me to gauge because I just do it to taste. I’ve reduced the amount called for in the recipe to 1 teaspoon from 2. But you can put in less (or none) depending on what you like. ~Elise

  • Cheryl

    Made this tonight for my 13 year old who cannot get enough calories right now…Really good just a little salty so next time I would not salt the vegetables until all was assembled. I had green beans on hand which I cut into 1″ pieces instead of squash…Love your blog!

  • tanguy

    Wow. All I can say is wow. I used pancetta but I mixed a summer squash with some zucchini, and the summer squash is definately the winner. Next time I will use all summer squash.

    Zucchini is just one variety of summer squash. There’s pattypan, yellow crookneck, and other varieties. Which is better depends on the freshness, how young it’s picked, and where it’s grown. My mother loves the yellow pattypan squash we grow (which is what I used in this recipe). So glad you liked the recipe! ~Elise

  • Carroll

    I made this tonight. It was delicious. Many thanks.

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