A super creamy courgette pasta but without cream, my courgette pasta with pancetta is simple to prepare, quick to make and is full of flavour. A comforting pasta dish with a thick sauce that contains no cheese or cream.
What Makes This Recipe Great!
- A Simple Dish – There aren’t any complicated steps or hard to find ingredients in this recipe.
- Make Ahead – You can freeze the creamy zucchini pasta sauce and use when you need to, making it one of those easy dinners you can choose for busy days.
- Quick To Make – You can have this pasta dish ready to eat on the dinner table in less than 30 minutes.
About This Recipe – In More Detail
Looking for a rich and creamy quick pasta dish without the added heavy cream that the whole family can enjoy? Then this recipe is for you!
My delicious green Courgette pasta is an easy recipe to make, with only a few simple ingredients but it’s packed plenty of flavour. Perfect for Zucchini season during the summer months at the time of year that they grow in abundance, but also comforting and filling enough for colder months too!
As well as no cream, there is also no need to add any parmesan cheese to this easy dinner recipe (unless you want a sprinkling on top to serve). We get all the creaminess of the sauce by adding in a secret ingredient; Pasta Water! With it’s starchy content, adding pasta water from cooked pasta, is a great way to thicken up the courgette and pancetta sauce without anything else needed.
You can also make this sauce ahead and freeze it! Making it a great dinner recipe for meal prep, when you are looking for a quick mid-week meal without any fuss.
- Large Saucepan: Used to boil water for cooking pasta. For best results, ensure it’s spacious enough to accommodate the pasta comfortably.
- Large Frying Pan: To cook the courgettes, pancetta, and prepare the sauce. It’s a good idea to choose a pan with enough surface area to sauté the ingredients without overcrowding.
- Food Processor: Required for blending the cooked courgette, pancetta, and pasta water into a smooth sauce. A food processor helps achieve the desired consistency.
- Knife: Used for cutting the courgettes and slicing the pancetta. Ensure it’s sharp for precise cutting.
- Cutting Board: Provides a safe and clean surface for chopping and preparing ingredients. Choose one that’s sturdy and easy to clean.
- Kitchen Spoon/Ladle: For stirring and transferring ingredients while cooking. Choose heat-resistant spoons for use in hot pans.
- Peeler: If necessary for peeling courgettes before cubing, particularly if they’re larger or have tough skin.
- Strainer/Colander: To drain the cooked pasta thoroughly before adding it to the sauce.
- Dried Pasta: The main ingredient, cooked separately and combined with the sauce. It’s the base of the dish. You can choose and type of pasta you like. Go for long pasta, like linguine or spaghetti or choose a short pasta like fusilli, rigatoni or trofie. Whichever suits your preference. Both egg pasta and durum wheat pasta will work just fine too!
- Pancetta: Adds a savoury, salty flavour to the dish. It’s cubed, cooked, and blended to create a flavourful element in the sauce. We used an unsmoked version in this pasta, but you can also choose a smoked version for stronger flavour.
- Olive Oil: Used for sautéing the garlic, courgettes, and pancetta. It contributes to the flavour and texture of the sauce.
- Green Courgettes (Zucchini): Cubed and cooked with pancetta, they add a fresh, vegetal taste and texture to the dish.
- Garlic Cloves: Whole garlic cloves infuse the olive oil with their flavour when briefly browned. Removed before blending to avoid overpowering the sauce. There is no need for minced garlic, simply peel and add in whole.
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper: Seasonings used throughout the recipe to enhance the flavours of the dish. They’re added to the courgettes, pancetta, pasta water, and final seasoning of the completed dish.
Additions and Substitutions
- Pancetta: Substitute with bacon if pancetta isn’t available. For a vegetarian option, you can use smoked tofu or tempeh for a similar smoky flavour.
- Olive Oil: Any neutral cooking oil like vegetable or canola oil can replace olive oil. Butter or ghee can also be used for a richer taste.
- Green Courgettes (Zucchini): Yellow squash or other summer squashes can substitute for green courgettes, but of course, the colour of the dish will change.
- Dried Pasta: Use gluten-free or whole wheat pasta for dietary preferences.
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper: Season with your preferred spices or seasoning blends to suit personal taste.
- Herbs: Add fresh herbs like basil, parsley, or thyme to the sauce for added aroma and flavour.
- Parmesan Cheese: Grated Parmesan, Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano can be sprinkled on top before serving for extra richness. You could even stir in some cream cheese if you want a pasta sauce that’s extra cheesy.
- Chili Flakes: For a bit of spice, add a pinch of chilli flakes while cooking the courgettes and pancetta.
- Spinach or Kale: Stir in chopped spinach or kale at the end for an added boost of greens and nutrients.
- Nuts: Toasted pine nuts or walnuts can be sprinkled on top for extra texture and nuttiness.
- Grated Courgette: Use a box grater and grate some additional courgette over the top of the creamy zucchini sauce for a little added decoration.
Step-By-Step Guide – How To Make Creamy Courgette Pasta With Pancetta
Step 1: Preparing Ingredients:
- Prepare Courgettes: Slice the courgettes into cubes. If they’re large or overgrown, peel and remove the seeds. Set aside.
- Slice Pancetta: Cut the pancetta into small cubes.
Step 2: Cooking Preparation:
- Boil Water: Start heating a large saucepan of water for cooking the pasta.
Step 3: Cooking Process:
- Heat Olive Oil: In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
- Infuse Oil: Add whole peeled garlic cloves to flavour the oil briefly.
- Add Courgettes and Pancetta: Put in the cubed courgettes and pancetta into the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
- Sauté Zucchini Mixture: Cook over medium high heat for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally for even cooking.
- Set Aside Mixture: Remove some courgettes and pancetta, setting them aside. Discard the garlic cloves.
- Boil Pasta: Season boiling water generously with salt. Add pasta and cook until al dente following packet instructions.
Step 4: Sauce Preparation:
- Blend Courgette and Pancetta: Place a portion of cooked courgette and pancetta in a food processor. Add a couple of ladles of starchy cooking water from the pasta.
- Blend Mixture: Blend until it turns vibrant green and smooth. Return the sauce to the frying pan.
- Combine Pasta and Sauce: Drain the cooked pasta well and add it to the frying pan. Briefly heat over a low heat, stirring the pasta into the sauce to coat evenly.
Step 5: Serving:
- Serve Hot: Serve the pasta immediately while hot, topped with the set aside courgette and pancetta cubes for decoration.
Yes, bacon can be used as a substitute for pancetta. It offers a similar smoky and salty flavour.
Follow the cooking time suggested on the pasta packet. Test the pasta a minute before the indicated time for a slightly firm texture.
Any type of pasta, such as penne, spaghetti, or fusilli, works well. Choose a shape that holds sauce nicely.
It’s best served immediately after preparation to retain the freshness and flavours. However, you can prepare the sauce in advance and reheat it gently before mixing it with freshly cooked pasta.
Pro Tips and Guidance
- Prep Ingredients Beforehand: Chop the courgettes, pancetta, and garlic before you start cooking. Having everything ready will make the process smoother.
- Sear Pancetta Well: Ensure the pancetta is nicely browned. This caramelisation adds depth of flavour to the dish.
- Blend the Sauce Well: Blend the courgette and pancetta mixture until it’s velvety smooth. This ensures a silky texture and optimal flavour distribution.
- Serve Immediately: Pasta dishes are best served fresh and hot. Serve promptly after combining the pasta and sauce.
Storage: This dish is best enjoyed fresh and immediately after preparation. If you have leftovers, store the sauce separately from the pasta in airtight containers. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.
Freezing Sauce (Without Pasta): To freeze the sauce, place it in a freezer-safe container, leaving some space for expansion, and store it for up to 1 month. Label the container with the date to keep track of its freshness.
Reheating: To reheat the pasta, cook fresh pasta separately and warm the sauce in a pan on the stove over low to medium heat. Add a splash of water or broth to prevent drying. Combine freshly cooked pasta with the reheated sauce and warm them together gently.
Defrosting and Using Frozen Sauce: To use frozen sauce, thaw it in the fridge overnight. Once thawed, reheat it gently on the stove and combine it with freshly cooked pasta for serving. Avoid freezing the already mixed pasta and sauce together for optimal taste and texture.
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Creamy Courgette Pasta with Pancetta And No Cream
- 500 g Dried Pasta
- 150 g Pancetta
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 650 g Green Courgettes
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
- Prepare the courgettes by slicing them into cubes. If you are using large or overgrown courgettes, peel and remove the seeds first. Set aside.
- Slice the pancetta into small cubes.
- Begin to heat a large saucepan of water to cook the pasta.
- In a large frying pan, add the olive oil and heat over a medium heat.
- Peel and add the garlic cloves whole, brown it briefly to flavour the oil.
- Add the cubed courgettes and pancetta. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
- Fry over a medium/high heat for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally for even cooking.
- Remove a large spoonful of the courgettes and pancetta and set aside for later. Remove the garlic cloves from the mixture and discard.
- Generously season the pasta water with salt and once it has reached a boil, add the pasta, cooking until al-dente according to the packet instructions.
- Place the cooked courgette and pancetta into a food processor and add in a couple of ladles of starchy pasta water.
- Blend the mixture until it turns vibrant green and smooth. Return the sauce to the frying pan.
- Once the pasta has cooked, drain well and add to the frying pan, heat the mixture briefly, stirring the pasta into the sauce, coating evenly.
- Serve immediately while hot with a sprinkling of the retained courgette and pancetta cubes for decoration.