Recipe: Lemon Butter Pasta & Veggies

updated May 28, 2019
Lemon Butter Pasta & Veggies

A quick and easy recipe for pasta tossed in a lemon butter sauce and filled with sautéed zucchini and cherry tomatoes.

Serves4 to 6

Prep5 minutes to 10 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Although Labor Day signals the unofficial end of summer, the weather and farmers markets suggest otherwise. That’s more than okay with us, because we’re planning to squeeze as much out of the season as we can before fall hits. This pasta is just one way we’re doing it: It’s full of tender zucchini, juicy cherry tomatoes, and vibrant fresh basil, all pulled together with a super-simple lemon-butter sauce that’s enhanced with a touch of garlic.

Make it while you’re still overwhelmed with summer produce, and suddenly you won’t be in such a rush to get to apples and pumpkin.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

An Easy Weeknight Pasta That Celebrates Late-Summer Produce

This pasta takes what you likely already have on hand and turns it into something to get excited about. Gather the zucchini you can’t seem to get rid of, a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, and a bunch of fresh, fragrant basil from the garden and turn into a weeknight dinner that’s equal parts light, bright, and comforting.

Lemon Butter Pasta & Veggies

A quick and easy recipe for pasta tossed in a lemon butter sauce and filled with sautéed zucchini and cherry tomatoes.

Prep time 5 minutes to 10 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1 pound

    dry short pasta, such as fusilli, cavatappi, or gemelli

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • 1 pound

    zucchini or yellow squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

  • 1 pint

    cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 cups), halved

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 2 cloves

    garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    finely grated lemon zest

  • 3 tablespoons

    freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 large lemon)

  • 1/3 cup

    chopped fresh basil leaves

  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook 1 minute less than al dente, about 8 minutes or according to package instructions. Meanwhile, cook the vegetables.

  2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the squash, tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Cook until softened and the tomatoes release some of their juices, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the butter, garlic, and lemon zest. Cook until the butter is melted and fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

  3. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the pasta and reserved cooking water and toss until the sauce thickens and coats the pasta, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Garnish with Parmesan, if using.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)