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Zucchini Spaghetti With Lemon (From Food: Vegetarian Home Cooking)

Zucchini Spaghetti Recipe

Zucchini Spaghetti
Before I started blogging, I didn’t spend much time thinking about vegetarianism. Having stopped eating meat at such a young age, it was simply a way of life. I never felt a longing to eat meat or looked at a restaurant menu and thought, “Oh, I really wish I had more options.” I didn’t talk to people about the fact that I didn’t eat meat unless they brought it up, just because not eating meat was as fundamental to me as the fact that I have blond hair and green eyes. Even after I started blogging, I was hesitant to label my blog as a vegetarian one–I just wanted to be known for good food, not good vegetarian food. But eventually, I embraced the label and here we are today. And now that I do label myself as a vegetarian blogger, I hear from so many people who struggle with vegetarian cooking–whether it’s going vegetarian completely or just a few days a week.

Whole Wheat Spaghetti
Of course, vegetarianism wasn’t always so easy for me either. I remember my mom struggling to come up with things to feed me when I was a kid. And I always felt really left out when I went to birthday parties or when it was hot dog day at school and I’d be stuck eating an empty bun and a bag of chips. When people ask me for advice about how to transition to vegetarianism, I always tell them this:

“Eat delicious food.”

Zesting Lemon
Which sounds like such non-advice, right? But I think when people start a new diet, whether it’s vegetarian, vegan, paleo, low-carb, whatever, they tend to do one of two things. They might jump in to their new way of eating a little bit over-zealously. They fill their fridge with tofu and eat salads for every meal. This usually results in burn out. The second thing I see people doing is trying to fit vegetarian cooking into their old cooking paradigm. This involves a lot of meat substitutes. I’m not opposed to making veg-friendly remakes of classic recipes (I even wrote a post about it), but when everything you eat is an imitation, you start craving the real thing again. So by “eat delicious food”, I mean–eat food that you love! Food that’s tasty in its own right, and not in relation to how it would taste with meat in it.

Zucchini and Lemon Spaghetti
This Zucchini Spaghetti with lemon zest recipe is a perfect example. It’s not Spaghetti Fauxlognese or Spaghetti and Soyballs. It’s spaghetti tossed with zucchini, fresh herbs, and lemon zest. It’s easy and unfussy, but delicious. The recipe is from Mary McCartney’s new cookbook, Food: Vegetarian Home Cooking, which is full of those basic, simple recipes that shine on their own (although there are a few in here that use meat substitutes). Mary McCartney, of course, is the daughter of Linda McCartney, who is well-known for her line of vegetarian foods as well as her vegetarian cookbooks. Food is brimming with Mary’s bright, colorful photographs of fresh vegetables, family life, and finished dishes.

The recipes in Food don’t use strange ingredients and don’t require a lot of skill in the kitchen–they’re recipes like Black Bean, Sweet Corn, and Feta Tacos and Shepherd’s Pie. They’re the types of dishes that you make for your family over and over again, sometimes so many times that you don’t even have to consult the recipe anymore because you know it by heart. Anyone can make these recipes and this is the book’s charm. It truly is vegetarian home cooking and if you’re still finding your way as a vegetarian, this book is a great cookbook to add to your collection. Enjoy this zucchini spaghetti dish!


Zucchini and Lemon Spaghetti

Zucchini Spaghetti Recipe

A simple pasta dish flavored with lemon zest, garlic, and fresh herbs.

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x


  • 7 oz. dried spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving (optional)
  • 4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • sea salt and black pepper, to taste


  1. First cook the spaghetti (check the package for specific instructions) by bringing a large saucepan of water to a boil, adding a couple of large pinches of sea salt and then the spaghetti; it should take about 8-10 minutes to cook. Stir every so often so the strands of pasta don’t stick together. When the pasta is just cooked (al dente), drain it in a colander, drizzle with a little olive oil and then mix to lightly coat the pasta and prevent the strands from sticking together. Set it aside.
  2. You can use the same saucepan to make the sauce. Pour in the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium heat, then add the zucchini and sauté for 4-5 minutes, before adding the garlic and herbs and mixing well. Sauté for a couple more minutes, to allow all the flavors to come together and the zucchini to cook through.
  3. Return the cooked spaghetti to the pan and heat through, then mix in the cheese and lemon zest, and season with a little sea salt (you may not need much since the feta cheese is salty) and a good grind of black pepper. Serve, with a little more grated cheese sprinkled over, if you wish.


Reprinted with permission from Sterling Publishing. Although the book says this recipe serves 2, we got 4 servings out of it.

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Disclaimer: I received a copy of Food: Vegetarian Home Cooking for the purpose of this review. There are affiliate links in this post, so if you were to make a purchase from them, I would get a small percentage of the sale, the proceeds of which will go towards this sweet llama t-shirt.

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  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 8:31 am

    Interesting post, I tend to tell people the same thing when they need to go to a gluten free dairy free diet. We try to find foods that are already GFCF or very easily transitioned to it with out FAKE foods. I hate trying to fake something because it ends up tasting FAKE. and no one wants that. So we look for naturally GFCF recipes and make great tasting food like that. Then it becomes fairly easy.

    • Reply
      April 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      Exactly! I think this goes for just about any specialized diet. Being able to enjoy food for what it is is so much easier than relying on substitutes. Substitutes are expensive, they never taste like the original, and they’re a constant reminder that you can’t eat the real thing.

  • Reply
    Jennifer @TheRebelChick
    April 8, 2013 at 8:40 am

    That looks delicious! I love zucchini so this would make a great light dinner for me! 🙂

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Such a beautiful & healthy spring pasta dish!

  • Reply
    Grace @ FoodFitnessFreshAir
    April 8, 2013 at 9:06 am

    So true! People often give up on vegetarianism just a few months in because they feel deprived. The worst is when I hear someone tell me they feel tired AND deprived. I’ve been a vegetarian for awhile…so I know there’s tons of great, and easy dishes like this, that won’t leave you feeling like you’re missing anything!

    • Reply
      April 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm

      Oh yes! About a year ago, I read a post where the blogger argued that vegetarian diets were unhealthy because they rely on meat substitutes and that when she went vegetarian, she felt tired and sick. Well yeah, if all you eat is vegetarian junk food, you WILL feel tired and sick. :/

  • Reply
    Cassie | Bake Your Day
    April 8, 2013 at 9:19 am

    I totally relate to you on this – we aren’t vegetarian but only eat meat 1-2 times per week but on other days we fill our plates with whole grains, beans, and tons of vegetables and it kills me to think that people do not eat amazing meals like this one. I love it!

  • Reply
    Grace @ Perpetual Nomming
    April 8, 2013 at 9:25 am

    Oh my! I love eating foods like this. They’re always so comforting! I especially love your lighting in these photos 🙂 They make the pasta look so spring/summery!

  • Reply
    shelly (cookies and cups)
    April 8, 2013 at 10:02 am

    This is so simple and yummy! Gonna have to go get some zucchini 🙂

  • Reply
    dishing up the dirt
    April 8, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Great post! It’s all about “real” wholesome food. We are not vegetarians but I haven’t cooked meat in months. I think my veggie dishes taste better anyway 🙂

    • Reply
      April 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      I love all your veggie dishes! 😀

  • Reply
    Christine @ Gotta Eat Green
    April 8, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I love lemon pasta! It has such a fresh taste to it and you can add whatever veggies you have laying around.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 11:59 am

    This looks so good. I bet it would be perfect for those hot summer nights when you need to eat but don’t want anything really heavy.

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Absolutely beautiful dish!

  • Reply
    Meg @ Beard and Bonnet
    April 8, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    This looks so yummy! I wish I had a bowl right now.

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    April 8, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    I love zucchini and lemon together, this spaghetti looks so fresh and delicious!

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I totally agree. I think it’s harder for some than others to move past that … habit … tradition … of centering a meal around a slab of meat that’s so ingrained in our culture. Once you let go of that, it’s much easier to see dishes like this one take center stage.

    • Reply
      April 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm

      Yes, it’s very ingrained in our culture! I often have people say things to me like, “Where’s the protein in this recipe?” And while I do believe in eating a balanced diet, from the research I’ve done, I’ve decided that I don’t need protein in every single meal I eat as long as I’m getting it at some point during the day. But we grow up thinking that every meal needs meat/protein, every meal needs dairy, etc.

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    April 8, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    I am still not sure I can become a complete vegetarian because I do miss having seafood from time to time…
    Your pasta looks so spring and delicious!

  • Reply
    [email protected], pleasure, and health
    April 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    this will be perfect for the spring weather- so fresh and unfussy 🙂

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Love this recipe and post! The funny thing is that I just wrote a post today about this same topic of making real food that is appealing to anyone, regardless of dietary preferences. I think the problem comes in when we label certain dishes and get stuck in our own assumptions of what “vegetarian cooking” means. And I love your motto of “eat delicious food” – it doesn’t get much simpler than that! 🙂

    • Reply
      April 9, 2013 at 12:04 pm

      I’m catching up on my blog reading this afternoon, so I will definitely check out your post! 🙂

  • Reply
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking
    April 8, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Gorgeous photos of this light, vibrant dish Kiersten! It looks so delicious and I love all the herbs, feta and lemon. My kinda Mediterranean summer cookin’!

  • Reply
    Averie @ Averie Cooks
    April 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Your photos are so clear that I want to reach out and grab this, Kiersten! Beautiful!

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    This meal looks and sounds great. I would like to try to eat meatless more often and this is a great way for me to start. Thanks!

  • Reply
    April 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    So true! I once went bread/potato/pasta/rice-free for a summer in college to lose weight. I did, but when I started eating the stuff again I missed it so much. haha I’m enjoying the way I eat now: healthier options, no fads, nothing overzealous. This looks so good! Love zucchini pasta dishes, especially if feta is part of the deal.

    • Reply
      April 9, 2013 at 12:00 pm

      I’m trying to cut down on breads, potatoes, and pasta too. I could never cut any of those OUT though–I love my starches. 🙂

  • Reply
    Maria Tadic
    April 8, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    I totally feel you on the labeling your blog as vegetarian. But I think were lucky now that the view of vegetarianism is so much more accepted and more people are interested in it than ever before! And if you stick to whole foods like fruits, veggies, legumes and whole grains, how could you not like it?

    • Reply
      April 9, 2013 at 11:59 am

      Yes, I think that even if vegetarianism still isn’t mainstream, vegetarian eating is. So many people are looking for lighter, meatless options, even if they do still eat meat.

  • Reply
    McKel | Nutrition Stripped
    April 8, 2013 at 9:06 pm

    Agree with you on this one! This recipe looks so light and refreshing too 😉

  • Reply
    Alexis @ Hummusapien
    April 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    I love this post, especially how you stress eating the food you love! Simple is always best. It always makes me sad when new veggies eat a bunch of faux meat, not knowing how many other amazing meatless options are our there with beans, lentils, grains, etc.

    • Reply
      April 9, 2013 at 11:57 am

      Yeah, as you’ve probably noticed, I’m not a big fan of faux meat either. 😉 I like veggie burgers, but not anything that’s meant to taste like meat. Those faux meats are SO highly processed and some of them have some scary ingredients too.

  • Reply
    heather @ heatheromade
    April 8, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    i totally agree about delicious food. that’s actually why i don’t eat a lot of red meat. i think it smells good but when i try it, it doesn’t taste delicious to me. veggies on the other hand are packed with such flavor, you really can’t lose.

    This looks like a great recipe. i think i might try it with making “zucchini noodles” by using my veggie peeler than juliennes veggies. so simple. thanks for another good one!

    • Reply
      April 9, 2013 at 11:54 am

      I just had zucchini noodles for dinner yesterday! 😀 They were in a raw Pad Thai–so good.

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