Ligurian-Style Pasta Sauce with Zucchini and Carrots

Sugo Ligure di Zucchine e Carote

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Enough sauce for 1 pound of boxed dry pasta or ¾ pound homemade fresh noodles, making



Appears in

While I was staying at the Hotel Splendido in Portofino, my friend Danilo Solari, who was then marking time as the pool attendant but has since opened his own restaurant in Chiavari, suggested that the next time I dined in the hotel restaurant I try the pasta with julienne of zucchini and carrots. I have never been misled by Danilo, nor was I this time.

This is a lovely dish, the thin green and orange strands of the vegetables twining themselves around the pasta. The flavor is delicate, which doesn’t mean it’s bland. Zucchini is a vegetable with a companionable personality that here makes an excellent match with the carrot and is receptive to the aromatic and spicy touch-ups contributed by the marjoram and chili pepper.


  • 1 pound young, glossy zucchini, small glossy zucchini, but not miniatures
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 2 tablespoons butter plus 1 to 2 tablespoons for tossing the pasta
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • Salt
  • Marjoram, 1 tablespoon if fresh, 2 teaspoons if dried
  • chopped chili pepper, teaspoon or to taste
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


Suggested Pasta

Homemade fettuccine are delicious with this fresh, buttery sauce. High-quality imported. Italian boxed dry pasta will also work well. If you choose the latter, the only shape to use is spaghetti.

  1. Soak the zucchini for about 20 minutes in a basin of cold water and clean. After trimming away their ends, first slice them in half crosswise, then cut them in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard nearly all the white seed-bearing core, keeping the green outer part. Slice the green lengthwise into very fine strips, about ⅛ inch wide. You can avail yourself, if you own one, of a mandoline with a julienne blade or of the equivalent attachment in a food processor.
  2. Wash the carrots, and prepare them as you did the zucchini, scooping out the paler core and cutting the orange outer part lengthwise into fine strips.
  3. Choose a skillet that can contain both the zucchini and the carrots without crowding them; put in 2 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and the chopped onion; and turn on the heat to medium high. Cook the onion, stirring from time to time, until it becomes colored a light gold.
  4. Add the carrot strips with some salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 or 7 minutes. Then add the zucchini with a little more salt and continue to cook, turning the vegetables over from time to time, until the zucchini are browned.
  5. Add the marjoram, stir well, add the chili pepper, stir again, taste, and correct for seasoning. Toss the sauce in a warm bowl with the pasta, swirling into it 1 tablespoon of butter if you are using boxed dry pasta, 2 tablespoons if using homemade noodles. Add the grated Parmesan, toss thoroughly again, and serve at once.