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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
    Anna @ Hidden Ponies
    April 8, 2013 at 11:13 pm

    “Spaghetti and soyballs” – you totally made me giggle 🙂 This looks delicious, I love finding new ways to use zucchini!

  • Reply
    Elizabeth A.
    April 9, 2013 at 7:46 am

    It must have been so hard for you as a kid. I work at a golf course during the summer at the food stand. Our main food is only meat based stuff (hot dogs, sandwiches, etc.), and I always feel bad that I have noting good to offer to those that don’t eat meat.

    • Reply
      April 9, 2013 at 11:53 am

      Honestly, I don’t think it was the fact that there was so much that I couldn’t eat that bothered me, it was more the fact that adults would try to force me to eat meat and other kids would make fun of me for not eating it. It was hard not having things to eat in a lot of situations, of course, but I was fine eating my empty buns. 🙂 It was other people’s reactions to me eating empty buns that made it worse!

  • Reply
    Marta @ What should I eat for breakfast today
    April 9, 2013 at 11:04 am

    I admire people who knew what they do or don’t in such an early age. At the beginning I wasn’t sure if I’d like pasta with zucchini, I’m not in love with this vegetable. But then I went through the recipe and I can see a feta cheese option and it’s something for me 🙂

    • Reply
      April 9, 2013 at 11:49 am

      Someone on Facebook suggested replacing the zucchini with broccoli, so you could try that too. 🙂

  • Reply
    April 9, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Love this spaghetti. So light and fresh!

  • Reply
    Jackie @ Domestic Fits
    April 9, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    The funny thing is that I followed your blog for a while before I realized it was vegetarian (umm…duh “oh my veggies”??) because the food always looks so awesome, with no needed for any meat.
    Love this pasta, looks sensational.

    • Reply
      April 10, 2013 at 8:05 pm

      Yeah, after I added “A Vegetarian Food Blog” to my header, I heard from a few people who had been readers for a while and didn’t realize my blog was vegetarian. So funny!

  • Reply
    April 9, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    This is just the kind of pasta dish I crave in the summer as a light and fresh meal. I always seem to have a problem when I make lemon pasta that its never lemony enough, so I would have to add a big squeeze of fresh lemon juice to this for extra flavour!

    • Reply
      April 10, 2013 at 8:03 pm

      I was worried that would happen with this one since there’s not much lemon zest in it, but I was pleasantly surprised!

  • Reply
    Stephanie @ henry happened
    April 9, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    haha, I love that t-shirt! how many people have clicked on that? I bet a ton! Too funny. This cookbook sounds amazing – I love your advice. I’ve been guilty of so many of those short-lived fad burn-outs.

    • Reply
      April 10, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      Yes, a ton! Ha ha. I bought it this afternoon. After I just told a friend how I needed more grown-up clothes. Then I go and order a llama t-shirt.

  • Reply
    April 9, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    It is amazing what a little bit of lemon does to a pasta dish. I have a had time making pasta anymore with out lemon. Great pics but I really love the one of you zesting the lemon. This is a great pasta dish – tasty and simple!

  • Reply
    April 9, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    LOVE the sound of this!

  • Reply
    Courtney @ The Fig Tree
    April 10, 2013 at 12:30 am

    It’s so true. I never even really think of the fact that I’m vegetarian until someone brings it up. *haha* I just do what I do and never really think about what I’m missing. I feel like being a vegetarian has allowed me to be more creative and enjoy MORE options 🙂 This pasta looks amazing. I adore zucchini, pasta and lemon. DELICIOUS! ^_^

    • Reply
      April 10, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      Yes! Me too! Although now with the blog, I think about it a lot more. But vegetarianism was just so much part of my life that it was never at the forefront of my mind. Which sounds completely contradictory, but it’s true. A lot of people seem to go into vegetarianism with a focus on what they can’t eat, but if you focus on what you can eat, it’s so much less restrictive.

  • Reply
    EA-The Spicy RD
    April 10, 2013 at 12:44 am

    Such a gorgeously simple dish, and I loved what you wrote in this post. Although I am not a vegetarian, I do cook a lot or vegetarian meals, and agree that simpler is usually better. I just scored a bunch of zucchini from my friends CSA-cant wait to make this dish!

    • Reply
      April 10, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      After corn, zucchini is definitely my favorite summer vegetable! We get all kinds of crazy varieties at our local farmers market. 🙂

  • Reply
    Suja Md
    April 10, 2013 at 7:47 am

    Love the lemon zest idea to the spaghetti! Btw, your clicks and recipes are awsome!!

  • Reply
    Kiran @
    April 10, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    LOVED reading your take on being vegetarian. We eat vegetarian almost 90% of the time! It boggles my mind whenever I say this to everyone 😀

    Love this vibrant and delish spaghetti!

  • Reply
    April 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    I just made this for dinner, and it’s lovely. Very fresh and wonderful.

    • Reply
      April 10, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂

  • Reply
    Kelly @ Texas Type A Mom
    April 10, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I’m late to the game – I just started using lemon in pasta and it’s such a welcome, light addition!

  • Reply
    Julia |
    April 10, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    This pasta looks divine! So fresh and perfect for the spring (if it came to your area :)). Repinned!

    • Reply
      April 10, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      It is definitely feeling like spring here! I think it must have been in the 80s today. 🙂

  • Reply
    Liz @ I Spy Plum Pie
    April 10, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    I don’t eat pasta often but the most common pasta dish I make is a zucchini and lemon one! I often grate the zucchini and usually throw in some chili (flakes or fresh) just to give it a kick!

    Love your thoughts on being vegetarian – and I think the advice “eat delicious food” is pretty much the best advice you could give!

  • Reply
    diana @ Eating Made Easy
    April 11, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    I love how simple it is!

  • Reply
    Versatile Style by Tracey
    April 15, 2013 at 9:52 am

    I am picturing this with artichokes and mushrooms as another variation!

  • Reply
    April 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    Just made this for dinner and it was absolutely DELICIOUS. The kids loved it too and my husband euphoric 🙂 Another ohmyveggies-success for you, Kiertsen, congratulations! Greetings fro’ Belgium

    • Reply
      April 16, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      Sorry for the typos, my phone goes crazy sometimes…

    • Reply
      April 17, 2013 at 10:47 am

      I’m so glad to hear it was a hit–thanks for letting me know! 🙂

  • Reply
    April 18, 2013 at 6:45 am

    I totally agree with what your saying about just “eating delicious food”. It’s the same when people are trying to lose weight. All these shortcuts & substitutes…if you just keep it simple and eat whole grains, fruits & veggies (and whatever lean protein of choice) but make it delicious you will have nothing to complain about!! This pasta looks so perfect, it’s something I would whip up at home, especially now when squash & zukes are starting to pop in our market!!! I love this!

    • Reply
      April 18, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      Yes, you’re so right about it applying to diets too. I used to be big into 100 calorie snack packs and things like that, but those little Oreo wafers are NOT the same as a real Oreo. 😉 Now I’d just rather eat a piece of dark chocolate or some fruit instead!

  • Reply
    April 18, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Love this post. I hate pigeonholing when it comes to diets and agree that the “subs” often come with their own unappealing issues. Ick to soyballs. I saw this recipe on EA’s blog- such a nice twist and good way to use the zucchini up. I don’t have very cheesy children, I’m thinking even without feta still worth a whirl.

    • Reply
      April 18, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      I’m not a fan of feta, so I made this without and it was still delicious. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply
    May 7, 2013 at 10:18 am

    This was AMAZING! Of course my husband had his typical complaints of “there’s no meat” and “there needs to be more sauce”, but it’s easy enough to add some tomato sauce to his and let him throw in some meat for his plate. I haven’t eaten zucchini for years and had myself convinced I didn’t like it, but this made me change my mind!

    • Reply
      May 7, 2013 at 10:27 am

      Ha! Well, I’m glad it turned out well, despite the lack of meat for the husband. 😉

  • Reply
    May 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    To simply put it, this recipe is wonderful.
    I love how flavours and textures mix together.
    My family enjoyed it so much.
    I don’t eat meat for some years now, and I’m always searching for new recipes to enrich my everyday diet, especially now, in spring, when craving young vegetables with passion 😉
    Thank You 🙂

    • Reply
      May 16, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      I’m glad your family enjoyed it–thanks for the comment! 🙂

  • Reply
    July 28, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    This is my new favourite pasta dish…I’ve made it several times, and like it the next day too. The zucchini mixture and cheese are lovely tossed with rice too.

    • Reply
      July 28, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      I love the idea of adding of making this with rice! I think quinoa or even farro might work too. 🙂

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