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

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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. Martina

    Excellent blog, the recipes looks delicious! Keep on cooking 🙂

  2. Looks so fresh and yummy…
    perfect for todays hot weather in Athens!

  3. Dala from thymeandtamarind.com

    I’ve never had orecchiette pasta! I must give it a try!

    This looks light, summery, and full of flavor 🙂

  4. This looks lovely! And I just happen to have more zucchini than I know what to do with!

  5. I cannot wait to make this!! So simple and fresh looking! Not to mention…we have an abundance of zucchini right now 😉

  6. I love everything about this pasta. Yes there’s still a ton of zucchini around here and I am definitely going to make this before summer is over.

  7. I love orecchiette! It’s one of my favorite pasta shapes. 🙂 This looks delicious! I’ll definitely make it the next time I buy orecchiette.

  8. We’ve got SO many zucchini’s in our garden. So simple, easy and fresh. Can’t wait to make this!

    • jeanine

      Thanks Catherine 🙂

  9. This is so perfect for the tiny zucchini I have hanging out in my fridge, love! I love the idea of ‘get it all on your fork’ dish, this is a real problem : )

  10. Although I don’t eat a ton of pasta, this looks beautiful! You can never have too much zucchini and I love the idea of adding pesto to the mix!

  11. Oy, I now want this for dinner. This sounds so yummy, and fresh and summery – and the perfect recipe for my monster zucchini. Thank you!

  12. Oh trust me I have toooons of zucchini 🙂 This looks gorgeous and orecchiette is a favorite in my house!

  13. mari from idreamofsushi.com

    i was gifted a summer squash literally the size of a small child recently….i will be trying this!

  14. i don’t have summer squash, but i have about one thousand million trillion gazillion billion buttercup squashes that are taking over my entire yard, it is insane and i am afraid for the day that they will all be ripe at the exact same time. putting this recipe in my back pocket until then. i love me some orecchiette 🙂

  15. I don’t eat pasta myself, but I really like how pretty the yellow and green squash look together. This may be my dinner tonight … lol

    • jeanine

      ha – I don’t eat it a ton but every now and then (especially when I can pack in lots of veggie!)

    • jeanine

      one of my favorite combos!

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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.