Zucchini Pasta Carbonara

Sautéed prosciutto, summer squash, onions, and garlic, served with egg noodles in an egg, Parmesan, lemon zest sauce, with fresh basil.

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.

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

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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Comments

  1. 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

  2. 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!

  3. 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

  4. Alyssa

    Made this dish last night – super duper yummy! Left out the lemon, but it was still fantastic. This will definitely become a regular. Thanks for the great recipe!

  5. Denise C.

    Hi,

    I just came across this website, what great recipes! The one most recently posted Zucchini Pasta Carbonara looks intriguing! My concern though is putting raw eggs on egg noodles- how do the eggs cook? I just don’t want anyone to get sick!

    The noodles are hot, quite hot, having just been in boiling water. The heat in them is enough to sufficiently cook the eggs into a custard-like state. ~Elise

  6. Rossella

    Ciao! Carbonara is tasty and easy enough to make all over the world without compromising the final taste if you use local ingredients. One suggestion though: Italians make carbonara with bacon, not with prosciutto. This last is pork-made yet it gets too “dry” if you cook it (unless you put it on a piece of meat, like in Saltimbocca alla Romana). Try this very same recipe with a thick slice of bacon (mind you, the perfect thing is “guanciale” which we make the pork’s cheek cured with salt, loads of pepper and different herbs according to the regional taste) sliced into small cubes. Cooking them will reduce the fat but the final result will be crispy but juicy (unlike with prosciutto). Enjoy! :)

  7. Mickey

    Here’s a question…can you make carbonara without the bacon/procuitto?

    We don’t eat meat on Fridays in our house, so I’m always looking for tasty (and different) ways to go meat-less without resorting to fried fish or cheese pizza (although, mine ARE good :-)

    Could you just add oil? Or butter?

    Yes, it won’t be a carbonara anymore, but it will still taste good. You may need to add a bit more seasoning. ~Elise

  8. Melissa

    I made this last night for my family, and they loved it! I’m always trying to get them to eat healthier, so I used twice as much zucchini, and only 1/2 the sauce (2 eggs, 1/2 cup cheese). It still turned out fantastic- all three kids are asking for it again.

  9. Alison

    Would probably be really good with Trader Joes lemon/black pepper pasta – I would just omit or cut way back on the lemon zest.

  10. Madeline

    Good Lord, that dish at Ella’s is so crazy good. We ate it at our wedding anniversary dinner there after a recommendation from a friend and I have been craving it ever since.

    Carbonara is my comfort food, so I’ll have to try this version, Elise!

    Hi Madeline, it is good! Hope it’s still on the menu, I hear they have a new chef. ~Elise

  11. Katie

    This recipe was great even with some substitutions. I was out of bacon (I know it is a crime)and used smoked ham and used grated Parmesan & lime zest. Even my squash hating husband ate it without a complaint! Thanks for another great recipe.

  12. Brian Raymond Callahan

    This is a simple and quick recipe and inexpensive too. Do you have any ideas on how to substitute for the prosciutto?
    Brian Callahan
    St Paul, MN

    Hi Brian, just use 4 strips of bacon, cook on medium heat until crisp and the fat is rendered. (No need to cook with oil and butter, the bacon has enough fat.) ~Elise

  13. Angelique from Bitchin' Kitchen

    Growing up in an Italian home… this dish was my favorite! We used to sub the prosciutto with bacon… it was cheaper and salty-er. Sometimes we used to switch it up and through in some other cold meats like salami and mortadella too! Just as good… and it’s cool to pull the switcheroo sometimes!

  14. Melanie

    I’ve never used pattypan squash before. Do you have any tips for preparing it? Also, do you peel your zucchini?

    I do not peel summer squash/zucchini. As for pattypan, I have no tips other than a recommendation to be careful as you cut it, given its odd shape. ~Elise

  15. LisaPA

    I think this would look lovely with zucchini sliced in strips with a vegetable peeler to mix with the pasta. I have some small yellow zucchini from the farmers market I’ll have to try.

    Great idea! ~Elise

  16. T J

    Had this last night, it was great! Light and delicious but the prosciutto satisfies any meat craving! We ended up grating the squash instead to cook it faster (and to avoid the chopping) and it was still a distinct flavor and texture. Thanks for a great recipe!

  17. Stacy

    Question: How is this with different pastas? My family isn’t much into egg noodles. Could you use Linguine or something similar? And would the egg still cook enough with the different pasta?

    Sorry, so full of questions aren’t I :) But, I always say ~~ It’s hard to learn, if you don’t ask questions!

    Thanks!

    You can do this with lots of different types of pasta, and yes the egg still cooks sufficiently. ~Elise

  18. Erika M.

    We made this tonight and it was terrific, even though I accidentally left out the garlic! I used a combo of grated and shredded parmesan with the egg, and pancetta instead of prosciutto (way easier to handle–we also chopped it first into thin strips) and also only used 1/2 tsp of lemon zest. The squash & onion combo took about 16 minutes to get done though at medium-high in an all-clad pan so I mixed everything together and added the veggies last. Thanks for giving us something to do with all our yellow squash!!

  19. Lori H

    I made this for the first time last night. After dinner my husband said, “make sure you put that recipe in the keeper file, it was great”! I second that response! All the flavors were wonderful together! It was nice to have something different to make with all the summer squash that’s overflowing in our garden.