Lemony Summer Squash Orecchiette

Make this simple weeknight pasta when you have a bounty of summer squash. With just 10 ingredients, it's fresh, bright & satisfying.

Lemony Summer Squash Orecchiette

You still have tons of zucchini right? Ok, I thought so, just checking. This summer squash pasta recipe should be next on your to-make list. It’s a straight-forward, simple dish – perfect for highlighting a special seasonal ingredient like summer squash.

My zucchini and yellow summer squash were on the small side, so I sliced them into thin little coins and paired them with orecchiette pasta. I like how the shape of the summer squash and the shape of the pasta are somewhat similar. It makes for a nice “easy-to-get-it-all-on-your-fork” sort of texture.

Summer squash Summer squash recipe ingredients

How to Make This Summer Squash Pasta Recipe

Making this pasta couldn’t be easier. Because summer squash cooks quickly, it comes together in minutes, so it’s a great choice for those days when you’re craving something delicious but don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Here’s all you need to do:

  1. Cook your pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water.
  2. Sauté the summer squash with garlic and rosemary until it’s lightly browned.
  3. Stir in a big handful of spinach and a large squeeze of lemon juice! Then, fold in the cooked pasta and a bit of the starchy pasta water.
  4. Finish it all with feta, capers, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. For a vegan option, add pesto instead of the cheese.
  5. Season to taste and dig in!

Summer squash pasta

Summer Squash Pasta Recipe Variations

Like most simple recipes, this summer squash pasta is easy to vary according to your tastes or what you have on hand. Here are a few ideas to change it up:

  • Switch the herb. Rosemary isn’t super summery, but it’s what I had on hand, and its flavor contrasts the lemon nicely. If you’ve been more successful with your herb-growing, feel free to switch it up – thyme, basil, or mint would all be great. If you use leafy herbs, just be sure to add them closer to the end so they stay fresh and bright.
  • Swap the pasta shape. I love orecchiette, as it creates little cups to scoop up the veggies, cheese, and capers, but use what you have on hand. Penne, rotini, or even spaghetti would work just as well in this dish.
  • Vary the veggie. Lots of varieties of summer squash are available at farmers markets, so use whatever you can get your hands on. Along with zucchini and yellow squash, pattypan squash or scallop squash would be delicious here. If you don’t have summer squash, you can use this recipe as a template for whatever vegetable you do have. Broccoli, for example, would be excellent.

And if you want to use a variety of veggies in your summer pasta, check out this one pot penne or this roasted veggie pasta.

Lemony Summer Squash Orecchiette

Looking for more summer squash recipes?

Try this zucchini bread, this pasta salad, this baked zucchini side dish, or this pizza next.

5.0 from 6 reviews

Lemony Summer Squash Orecchiette

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This lemony summer squash pasta is a great easy summer meal! If you don't have summer squash on hand, another seasonal vegetable would be equally delicious.
Recipe type: Main dish
Serves: 3
  • 3 small summer squash (or 2 medium)
  • 8 ounces orecchiette pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, more for drizzling
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
  • 2 cups chopped spinach or (or chard or kale)
  • Juice of ½ lemon, more to taste
  • ⅓ cup feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • A few pinches red pepper flakes
  • grated Parmesan cheese, optional
  • Sea salt & fresh black pepper
  1. Thinly slice squash, about ⅛ inch thick (on a mandoline if you have one). Lay squash slices on a towel and pat dry.
  2. Cook the pasta in a pot of salted boiling water until al dente.
  3. In a large skillet heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and rosemary. Stir until fragrant, then add the sliced squash, salt and pepper. Stir, then let the squash cook on each side until lightly browned.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice, then add the spinach and toss. Add the pasta along with a bit of the starchy pasta cooking water.
  5. Stir in feta, capers and red pepper flakes. Season to taste and add Parmesan cheese, more lemon juice, and drizzles of olive oil, as desired.
Vegan option: skip the cheese and serve with dollops of pesto.


Stainless sauté pan: Williams-Sonoma Open Kitchen Stainless Cookware


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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Liesl

    I made this for my husband and two teen boys last night. They all went back for seconds. It was delicious and easy. Sadly, I substituted the Orecchiette noodles for Penne because even though I bought them for this recipe, I couldn’t find them. Where on earth could they have gone? There’s only one place noodles go. I was really bummed, because the shapes together really seem to pull this into a perfect look. I can’t wait to make it again. It was the first time I’ve cooked with capers, and it added a nice zing.

  2. Hilary

    I made this tonight for my husband and I to celebrate the first day of summer. My only substitution was basil instead of rosemary. We both cleaned our plates! It also only took 30 minutes from start to finish, including the prep and most of the cleaning (although my husband does help as a sous chef and dishwasher!). I will most definitely make this again. Thank you for the great recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Hilary, I’m so glad you both loved it!

      • Hilary

        As I write this reply, I’m eating the leftovers straight from the fridge, and it’s even good cold!!!

  3. Victoria

    One of my favorite salads! A friend made it for me years ago and every summer since I’ve been determined to make it. This was finally the year! So glad I finally took the time to find the recipe so I can put it in my rotation each summer when the summer squash is ready!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you’ve been loving this one for so long 🙂

  4. Nes

    So good especially considering how very simple it is. A great late summer dish.

  5. Nina Boutsikaris

    What do you think about doing this as a brown rice salad instead of with pasta?

  6. Natalie

    I really love this recipe but it is winter right now yet I want to make this dish.What can I substitue for the summer squash?

      • Natalie

        Thank you so much! The butternut squash one looks fabulous. I am such an orchette freak so I will just use that shape:) Love all your recipes so much they always turn out so well my boyfriend thinks I am a great cook but I keep telling him no I am just good at replicating Love and Lemons:)

        • Jeanine Donofrio

          Ha, I love that :). Glad you’ve both been enjoying the recipes!

  7. Laura

    I don’t usually comment and I can’t even remember how I found this recipe. I will say – thank you, it was wonderful and will soon be a summertime staple in my home. My sons are polishing off whatever’s left out there as I type. Wouldn’t change a thing. The added lemon and parm at the end, coupled with a little crushed reds and pepper made for an impressive presentation. Wow!

    • jeanine

      I’m so glad!! Thanks for coming back to comment and let me know 🙂

  8. Laura

    I don’t usually comment and I can’t even remember how I found this recipe. I will say – thank you, it was wonderful and will soon be a summertime staple in my he. My sons are polishing off whatever’s left out there as I type. Wouldn’t change a thing. The added lemon and parm at the end, coupled with a little crushed reds and peppers made for an impressive presentation. Wow!

  9. Stephanie from teachingaworldofdifference.com

    I love this combo – had to substitute GF pasta but the feta, capers and lemon together was so good. Thank you for your beautiful blog!

  10. Anna

    Thanks for another great recipe! Husband loved this, and if I lie to daughter about the squash (it’s yellow starch) she likes it too. 🙂

    • jeanine

      Ha, yellow starch – love it :). Glad your family liked it!

      • Anna

        Daughter is 8, and she refuses to try new things. So I find myself lying sort of frequently when it comes to food. Sweet potatoes are called carrots, potatoes are just starch (cheese covered, seasoned, etc) and squash is either starch or cheese, depending on the dish. I hope this doesn’t turn out to be a bad decision in the future. O.o

  11. This is mouth-watering, will definitely try to do this recipe before summer ends !

  12. I made this pasta when we met friends for a long weekend getaway last weekend and it was a hit. Love the simple but full-on flavors in this…this recipe is a keeper!

    • jeanine

      so glad it was a hit!

  13. Cecelia Whitman

    Where is your beautiful serving platter/plate from? It is lovely!

    • jeanine

      thanks – it’s vintage, I found it on Etsy a few years ago (sorry that’s not helpful!)

  14. cheyenne from wanderfulways.blogspot.nl

    i just had squash for the very first time and absolutely loved it. definitely going to make this recipe as soon as possible, sounds delicious!
    xo, cheyenne

  15. Saska from workthathealth.blogspot.com

    This looks delicious! Definitely gonna make this some time 🙂

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.