Healthy Recipe, Charred Zucchini and Scallion Pasta

It’s amazing how much depth of flavor can be achieved from basic ingredients with a few tweaks in the cooking, as Yasmin Fahr demonstrates in this recipe from “Cook Simply, Live Fully.” Here, summer squash, which tends to be bland, is charred first in a dry skillet with thin slivers of lemon and scallions. Olive oil, grated Parmesan, and the starchy water from the cooked pasta transforms into a creamy sauce rich with umami rather than fat. Not only is it healthy, delicious, and filling, but it’s also easy on the wallet and a snap to make. Serves 4. – Susan Puckett


  • Salt
  • 2 large or 3 medium zucchini or other summer squash
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 scallions
  • ¾ pound rigatoni, fusilli, ziti, or other short tubular dried pasta
  • 1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, or more, as needed
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Bring a large pot of water seasoned with about a tablespoon of salt to a boil. Meanwhile, halve the zucchini or squash lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and cut into ½-inch-thick half-moons and set aside.
  2. Cut the lemon in half. Leave one half of the lemon whole for squeezing. Slice the other half into thin rounds, poke the seeds out, and cut the slices into ¼-inch-thick matchsticks. Set aside. Then trim the roots and thinly slice scallions.
  3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions until slightly underdone by a minute or two. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, heat a dry 12-inch cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the zucchini to the dry pan, season lightly with salt, spread out in an even layer and cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes. Then flip with a spatula, scooting some of the slices up to rest on the sides of the pan if it looks crowded. Allow the slices to cook again, undisturbed, for 2 more minutes. Repeat this flipping process in 2-minute increments until the zucchini is browned in spots, 6 to 8 minutes total.
  6. Add the sliced lemon and scallions to the zucchini and cook until softened, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in the olive oil and season lightly with salt.
  7. Lower the heat to medium. Add the cooked pasta, ½ cup of the pasta water, and ¾ cup of the Parmesan, stirring well to form a creamy sauce. Add more water if the sauce looks too dry or more cheese if the sauce looks too watery.
  8. Remove from the heat, squeeze in the reserved lemon half, and stir. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes, if desired.