Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Zucchini Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Welcome to Claire's: 35 Years of Recipes and Reflections from the Landmark Vegetarian Restaurant

Welcome to Claire's

By Claire Criscuolo

Published 2014

  • About

This quintessential summer sauce is luscious atop any pasta. I also like it over cheese ravioli. Serve it alone or topped with grated Pecorino Romano or ricotta salata cheese. Ricotta salata is a sheep’s milk cheese (Pecorino Romano is also made from sheep’s milk) and is perfect for grating onto a sauce or cubed for a salad. You can buy it in the cheese section of most markets. For a complete dinner, I like to pair this pasta dish with a simple arugula salad tossed with chickpeas, lemon juice, and extra-virgin olive oil. I’d serve a lovely rosé wine with this dish, too.


  • Sea salt
  • 1 pound pasta of choice
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon for coating the pasta
  • ¼ large red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 pepperoncini peppers or other tiny hot peppers, chopped (optional)
  • 6 large ripe local tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juices reserved
  • 1 medium local zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then into ¾-inch slices
  • ½ cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 12 fresh basil leaves
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Grated Pecorino Romano or ricotta salata cheese, if desired


  1. Bring a large covered pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain, then drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil. Turn into a serving bowl.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and pepperoncini peppers if using. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions are just golden but not burned. Add the tomatoes and their juices, the zucchini, and the parsley. Tear the basil leaves and add them to the skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir to coat. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes are broken down and the zucchini is tender. Taste for seasonings.
  3. Turn the sauce over the pasta in the serving bowl. Using two wooden spoons, toss to coat with the sauce. Taste for seasonings. Serve topped with grated Pecorino Romano or ricotta salata cheese, if desired.