Main Course,  Recipes

Pasta with Zucchini, Fresh Sage, and Butter

Zucchini Sage Pasta
Zucchini Sage Pasta

Only a week ago I was sitting in a trattoria in the colorful Roman neighborhood of Trastevere, sipping a glass of chilled rosé, and tucking into a plate of homemade ravioli. My husband and I had just just spent two lovely weeks in Italy in celebration of our upcoming 20th wedding anniversary. The journey took us from tiny villages in southern Tuscany down to Pompeii and then the Amalfi Coast, and back to one of our favorite cities, Rome. It was a wonderful trip filled with delicious food and wine, museums, ruins, rolling Tuscan hills and the Mediterranean sea, farm and winery visits and gelato. Lots of gelato.

In case you find that image too perfect, I’ll share that while I was enjoying the rosé, it was over 100 degrees fahrenheit outside, and I was literally trying to keep from sweating into my food. We had 14 nonstop days of weather like that. Feel better?

Little did we know when we planned the trip, we’d be there in the middle of one of the worst heat waves in recorded history. That notwithstanding, we ate well at almost every meal and the one thing which rang true for me over and over was the old idea that “simple is better.” The best meals we had were often the ones with minimal ingredients and preparation; fresh pasta with a little butter and shaved truffles, steamed clams with white wine and garlic, anchovies and octopus fresh from the sea.

This pasta recipe is just that simple and a great way to use up some of that summer squash everyone has this time of year. Use any kind of pasta you want, fresh or dried, dice up some zucchini, add your butter, garlic, sage and cheese, and ecco, you’re done!

Zucchini Sage Pasta

Pasta with Zucchini, Fresh Sage, and Butter

Pasta with Zucchini, Fresh Sage, and Butter
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: pasta, zucchini
Servings: 2 servings


  • 1/2 lb dried pasta cooked
  • 4 oz zucchini diced 1/2"
  • 4 oz yellow squash diced 1/2"
  • 2 cloves garlic sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • .2 oz fresh sage cut chiffonade (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 oz shaved Parmesan cheese shaved
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Cook the pasta al dente, drain and reserve.
  • Heat a large saute pan and add the oil. Add in the diced zucchini and saute for 2 minutes. Add in the garlic and saute for 1 minute more.
  • Add in half the cut sage and stir to combine. Add the butter, allow to melt, and then add in the cooked pasta and 3/4 of the cheese, tossing to coat with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper and then plate.
  • Garnish with the remaining sliced sage and cheese.


  • Barbara | Creative Culinary

    I love dishes like this; just so simple to run to the garden, grab some herbs and veggies and throw them in pasta. The sage is the best part; of course now that I have none in a garden. I need to rectify that because I’m all for this dish!

    • formerchef

      Thanks! I currently have sage growing successfully for the first time. For some reason it usually dies on me. People usually associate it with winter dishes but I think it pairs well with the zucchini.

  • Pam Valente

    My father was from Carpinone, Italy – wonder if you went near there? It’s about 60 miles northeast of Napoli. You are correct, simple is best and this recipe looks very tasty and easy – zucchini is so under appreciated! Thanks for sharing tidbits about your visit to beautiful Italy.

  • Susan De Masi

    This is dinner tonight-quick, easy, and the ingredients are right there in my garden! Always grateful for a recipe using zucchini, this sounds delicious. I will, however, have to Google “chiffonade”-hope I’m not the only one.

    • formerchef

      Ha! Yes, sorry, I usually put a link to it. It’s a French culinary term with a literal translation of “made of rags” or “ribbons”. It’s when you cut herbs or leafy greens into fine wispy strips by rolling or bunching them together and then slicing.

  • Karen

    This looks perfect and I’ll definitely try it in the next couple of days. I have friends on their way over now who are bringing fresh squash from their garden. And sage is a perennial here (Denver), and it would really like to take over the raised bed in my garden. I keep it separate from the mint, but I can imagine the sage and the mint fighting each other to the death, like green gladiators. …At one time I would have bet on the mint, but I’m not so sure now.

  • Angrboda

    Oh that’s an obvious one for us, this one. We have courgettes that very much need using soon, because they’re getting quite close to being borderline marrows, now.

    Also have a big sage plant in our garden which we don’t actually use all that often. It was just one of those you buy in the supermarket, a little unhealthy plant because it’s in a far too small pot and will die within days of bringing it home. Husband figured if it was going to die anyway he might as well try and plant it out. Seems to like our soil here, because it’s easily five times the size now. 🙂

    We don’t have summer squash available, though, and I haven’t seen it in the shop either. My thought is to either substitute for more courgette or use a yellow bell pepper added right at the end so it would be warm but still crunchy. The latter appeals to me more than the former, but then again I just love bell peppers. What do you think, would the bell pepper work?

  • Sebastian

    Wow this looks really good , I must give it a try. I go to Italy every year as I have family there. This time of year can be brutal on you. I love your images – actually made me feel hungry . What I love about Italian food is how simple a lot of the dishes are and how tasty and healthy they are .

    thanks for sharing

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