Lemon pasta with summer squash in a creamy spicy sauce is a great way to feature squash. With a crunchy topping, this is a perfect for a summer potluck or cook-out.
If you’re looking for something to do with summer squash and are tired of some of the more traditional recipes, you are going to love this pasta dish with spicy squash and just a splash of lemon. We love this and my new food taster who has been testing my left-overs, gave his seal of approval also.
While seasoning the squash, I was afraid I had put in too many red pepper flakes but when you add it to the pasta, it mellows out just enough. Of course, I had to remove some of the pasta to a separate ramekin before adding the squash due to a picky eater. I can remember my grandmother doing this for me when I didn’t like the mayonnaise dressing that she put on fruit salad. I guess I’m just carrying on the tradition. The picky eater loved the dish without the squash and why wouldn’t you, it’s basically macaroni and cheese.
How do you make Lemon Pasta with Summer Squash
For the pasta part of the dish, I used whole milk to make the bechamel sauce, but you could lighten it with skim or make it richer with cream. I thought whole milk was a good compromise. It’s creamy but not too rich. There is just enough cheese to make it gooey without hiding the squash completely. My favorite part was the lemon flavor that you get from just a teaspoon of lemon zest and juice from half of a lemon. Make sure you zest first or you’ll have a mess.
I wanted to have something crunchy on top so I cooked some panko and butter and of course how could that be bad. One other tip that adds to this dish is cutting the squash very thin. I used a mandolin, but if you don’t have one, try the thin blade on a food processor or just try to slice them as thin as you can with a knife. If you don’t have a mandolin, put it on your Christmas list. Natalie got one for me one year and I use it quite a bit.
Once you have very thin squash, you will brown it in a skillet and remove it from the pan.
Next add the green onions and garlic and make the bechamel sauce. Add your seasonings and combine the cooked pasta, sauce and squash with some cheese and top with the crunchy panko. Bake and you have a fabulous side with veggies hidden inside. Every time I remake this dish, the family asks why it’s been so long since we’ve had it.
Looking for more recipes for summer squash, try these:
Or maybe this post has you thinking about macaroni and Cheese, if so, here are a few of my favorites:
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Lemon Pasta with Summer Squash
- 8 ounces orecchiette pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 lb summer squash sliced thin
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ lemon lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 3 green onions sliced thin, green parts reserved
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- ¼ cup parsley
- ½ tablespoon fresh thyme
- salt and pepper
- ¾ cup parmesan cheese grated
- 4 ounces mozzarella cheese cut into small cubes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Cook the pasta in salted water, drain. Set aside.
- In a large oven proof skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil until hot and add thinly sliced squash. (I used a mandoliSeason with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Let it brown before moving around so that it has some color to it, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and squeeze lemon juice over it. Salt and pepper to taste.
- In the same pan, melt butter. Add green onions and garlic and saute for about 1-2 minutes. Add flour and stir until it is well absorbed. Then slowly add milk that has been warmed in the microwave stirring after each addition until well incorporated. Add lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Let simmer for 2 minutes stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add half of the parsley and thyme.
- Add cooked pasta, squash, ½ cup of parmesan and all of the mozzarella, stir to combine and place in a baking dish. Top with remaining parmesan.
- In a small skillet add 2 tablespoons butter and panko, stirring until brown. Sprinkle over the pasta mixture and bake at 400º for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Add reserved parsley if desired.
Barbara's Tips + Notes