Zucchini and shrimp pasta is a light and satisfying Italian meal with tender shrimp, crisp zucchini, and flavorful pasta tossed with garlic and olive oil. It’s simple yet filling enough for a summertime weeknight pasta dinner but could also be served for any special occasion!
This shrimp and pasta dish is light, refreshing and perfect for summer! The zucchini adds a mild slightly sweet taste, while the shrimp brings a savory element to the dish. Combined with rich olive oil, fresh garlic and Italian parsley it’s so flavorful you may think you are eating shrimp scampi.
During the summertime, I am the benefactor of fresh veggies from a generous mother-in-law with a large garden. Tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant it is never-ending but also welcoming at the same time!
This zucchini and shrimp pasta checks all the boxes from the simplicity of the ingredients to the flavorful taste. It’s as if my favorite Italian sauteed shrimp combined with Italian shrimp pasta for a new and wonderful seasonally fresh meal!
Why You Will Love This Shrimp Zucchini Pasta
- Simple ingredients: With less than 10 ingredients, this is a complete meal-in-one that is the perfect weeknight dinner with easy steps!
- Fresh and flavorful: With fresh Italian parsley, garlic, oregano and hot pepper flakes this zucchini and shrimp recipe is full of delicious tastes.
- Healthy and filling: This Italian recipe is light, veggie-filled and may remind you of a Mediterranean meal with the olive oil and garlic and no cream or butter.
- Versatile: Serve this healthy shrimp recipe as a light lunch, simple summertime dinner or even enjoy it with friends on a special occasion. It will be one of your new favorite pasta recipes!
- Zucchini: I prefer 2 -3 medium zucchini that are cut into slim wedges. You could slice the zucchini into rounds if preferred. If you have a large zucchini, you may only need one.
- Shrimp: You will need 1/2 pound fresh or frozen medium shrimp that has been peeled and deveined.
- Olive oil: I love the rich flavor of extra virgin olive oil.
- Fresh Italian parsley: You will need some for adding to the dish and then some for a fresh garnish.
- Garlic: Freshly minced garlic adds so much taste, use 1-2 depending on your preference.
- Oregano: Dry oregano adds an earthy flavor.
- Salt: Enhances the flavors of all the other ingredients.
- Hot red pepper flakes: Just one or two dashes adds just slight heat. Omit if sensitive to spicy food.
- Pasta: I prefer to use penne pasta or rigatoni pasta. You will need 3-4 cups of cooked pasta which is equivalent to 2 – 2 1/2 cups of dry pasta.
How to Make Zucchini and Shrimp Pasta
To start, in a large pot of salted water cook pasta until al dente. Drain when done and reserve some of the pasta water.
Next, in a medium-sized to large skillet over medium heat add the olive oil, garlic and zucchini. Season with salt, oregano, hot pepper flakes and half the chopped fresh parsley.
Stir gently to combine, then cook until the zucchini starts to turn lightly golden.
Add shrimp and remaining parsley, continue to cook until the shrimp is pink and cooked through.
Add the drained pasta, the reserved pasta water and cook on high heat tossing constantly for 30-60 seconds. Serve this delicious meal immediately with freshly chopped parsley.
- Pasta shape: While I love rigatoni or penne, spaghetti, linguine or any pasta shape you have on hand will work in this recipe.
- Lemon: Add zest and lemon juice from one lemon when sauteing the zucchini.
- Tomatoes: Add a ½ cup of halved cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes near the end of the cooking time for a sweet burst of flavor in this shrimp and zucchini pasta.
- Zucchini noodles: Whether you need a low carb meal or just something a little lighter, make some zucchini noodles to serve with this dish rather than pasta. As a bonus, it’s double the veggies!
- Salt the pasta water: Pasta does not have much flavor on its own, adding salt to the water will add another layer of flavor to this shrimp zucchini pasta recipe.
- Peeled and deveined shrimp: Buying fresh or frozen shrimp that is already peeled and deveined will save you time in the kitchen when making this pasta dish.
- Smaller zucchini: Smaller sized zucchini have more flavor and less seeds than the larger sized ones.
- Don’t overcook the shrimp: Or they will turn rubbery. Only cook until they are pink then remove from the stove.
- Garnish: Freshly grated Parmesan cheese added right before serving is the perfect savory finish!
This dish is perfect for a light lunch or summer dinner! To complete your meal serve it with a glass of chilled white wine, Italian salad and some homemade focaccia. Dinner is ready in less than 45 minutes! If you are sharing this meal with friends, I love to make a few simple starters. Two appetizers that always go over well are zucchini flowers and these eggplant meatballs.
Either fresh or frozen medium sized shrimp is best to use in this garlic shrimp zucchini pasta recipe. Shrimp are measured in pounds and for this recipe I used ½ a pound which is about 20 shrimp. You will want to buy peeled and deveined shrimp. Frozen shrimp may be labeled ‘easy peel’ which indicates that it is already peeled, deveined and recipe ready!
Shrimp scampi is made with garlic butter shrimp, lemon and wine or chicken broth. On the other hand this zucchini and shrimp pasta recipe is made with just olive oil, garlic and a few seasonings. Both this recipe and scampi are served with pasta.
To make this shrimp and zucchini recipe gluten-free just use your favorite gluten-free noodles or opt to make zucchini noodles.
How to store leftover Zucchini and Shrimp Pasta
Store any leftover pasta in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will 2-3 days in the fridge. I don’t recommend freezing.
More Shrimp Recipes
- Italian Baked Shrimp
- Italian Grilled Shrimp Skewers
- Shrimp Stuffed Avocado
- Pesto Shrimp Pasta
- Italian Shrimp and Tomato Vermicelli
Zucchini and Shrimp Pasta
- 2-3 medium zucchini cut into slim wedges
- ½ pound fresh or frozen medium shrimp 250 grams
- ¼ cup olive oil 50 grams
- ¼ tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley (divided)
- 1-2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon oregano 3/4 gram
- ½ teaspoon salt 2 1/2 grams
- 1-2 dashes hot pepper flakes to taste
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 3-4 cups cooked pasta (rigatoni or penne)
- In a large pot of boiling salted water cook the pasta until al dente.
- While the water is boiling and the pasta is cooking, in a medium-sized pan add the olive oil, garlic, and zucchini, top with the salt, oregano, hot pepper flakes and half the chopped parsley. Stir gently to combine, cook on medium heat for approximately 10-15 minutes or until the zucchini starts to turn lightly golden, zucchini should be tender but not mushy, add the shrimp and remaining parsley, continue to cook for 3-5 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked. Stir occasionally.
- Add the drained pasta and ¼ cup of pasta water, cook on high heat tossing constantly for 30-60 seconds. Serve immediately with freshly chopped parsley. Enjoy!
Updated from August 7, 2014.