spring zucchini pasta

spring zucchini pasta | theclevercarrot.com

I need a cow.

The amount of meat my boys go through is absolutely insane.

The other night, my husband brought home this epic T-bone steak and I thought to myself, “Oh, good! We’ll have leftovers.” I’ll make wraps… some kind of steak salad… maybe stroganoff… (when’s the last time you had stroganoff?!).

But the three of them devoured it like a pack of wolves! I heard ravenous snarls coming from the table.

On the other hand, I wasn’t in the mood to partake in this carnivorous feast.

spring zucchini pasta | theclevercarrot.com

I threw together a quick pasta dish with some random bits and pieces from the fridge.

And it began with leftover rotini.

You know I’m very particular about my pasta shapes, right?

It’s like picking out a paint color.

It has to be just right.

I like rotini because the ingredients, sauce and cheese fall into the playful coils creating the perfect bite- I love that. For this dish, I quickly sautéed some frozen pancetta with sliced leeks and zucchini. I threw in some plain cooked pasta, a splash of homemade chicken stock and parmesan cheese to create a light sauce. Right before it was ready, a handful of fresh peas went into the mix.

Fresh peas!

I usually cook with frozen peas. They’re tasty and easy to find.

But every spring, the fresh ones pop up for a brief moment and they’re definitely worth grabbing.

Have you tried them?

So sweet.

spring zucchini pasta | theclevercarrot.com

And to keep things light, I half the amount of pasta and double the vegetables.

You’d never know the difference.

spring zucchini pasta | theclevercarrot.com

How do you co-exist in the kitchen with your loved ones?

Kitchen Notes:

  • I used baby zucchini for this pasta but regular zucchini will work too- cut them into half moon shapes.
  • No rotini? No problem! Try ditalini, small shells and orecchiette instead.

spring zucchini pasta
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 2 cups cooked rotini pasta*
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ cup diced pancetta
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leeks, white and light green part only
  • 1½ cup thinly sliced zucchini
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • 1tbsp butter
  • good handful of parmesan cheese
  • coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
*1 cup of dry, uncooked pasta yields about 2 cups cooked pasta.
  1. If you're using dry pasta, go ahead and prepare it according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until lightly golden, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Throw in the leeks and cook until they start to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini and continue to cook for another 3 minutes or so. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Now add your pasta to the pan. Pour in the chicken stock, butter, and a good handful of parmesan cheese. Stir well until the liquid starts to thicken. Add the peas.
  5. To serve, pile the pasta onto a giant platter or into a nice serving bowl.
  6. Garnish with extra parmesan on the side.

spring zucchini pasta | theclevercarrot.com



  1. says

    i love seeing all the spring pasta dishes going around! i love a big hearty bowl of pasta, but i love pasta and green vegetables equally and it’s such a welcome change right now. gotta go get some fresh peas!!

    • Emilie says

      Hi Tory! They are SO delicious. I’m a fan of frozen too, but these little guys are special. Anything in season right now seems special. I’m so happy Spring is finally here! Have a great weekend :)

    • Emilie says

      Haha, yes. My husband actually really liked the pasta dish and he’s not a pasta person at all! When we first met, he was astounded at the amount of pasta our family ate. I told him it was a major food group, obviously ;)

  2. Ruby88 says

    That’s too funny with the steak. Bet the kids also go after the pasta minus the veggies. Love the simple and beautiful photo

    • Emilie says

      They do! In fact, the rotini I used was their leftover dinner from the other night. Waste not, want not. One day they will eat all things green! I think… ;)

  3. says

    I can so relate to this post! :) I am always the one making or getting a huge pot of veggies while everyone has steak or pork. I also love to make veggies with pasta rather than pasta with veggies. Well, what to say, this looks gorgeous! There will come a time when boys might even consider eating their salad :)

    • Emilie says

      Yes! Someone needs to balance things out. I think if we make veggies often enough, they will finally cave in. They have to! I personally love veggies and can’t imagine life without them. Sounds dramatic, but true. Same goes for pasta ;)

    • Emilie says

      Haha.. this made me laugh. I was telling my mom about your comment and we both agreed- as you’ve mentioned, we’re naturally attracted to certain pasta shapes but it’s really hard to describe why. In addition to rotini, I love small shells, pastina and mini penne- they remind me of my childhood.

  4. says

    Hahhaa, pack of wolves! I’d be hanging out near the pasta and veggies with you, Emilie! I love the simple idea of less pasta and more veggies.. so simple, yet intentional. The peas… yes! They’ll be showing up at farmers markets here soon and I am soooo looking forward to them! I think they’re amazing, although I do use frozen too because they are really good for frozen! Co-existing with Rob in the kitchen…. he is a carnivore, although only when we go out and only occasionally. He used to say my food was gourmet (really, it’s not, just fresh ingredients) and not regular (his word). But since I do all the cooking in the house, he has come to like my cooking more and more and is sweet enough to try things not regular and give me feedback (hehe). I did convert him to the green side of green smoothies and now he complains if he misses his morning green! A slow evolution :D

    I love this pasta Emilie! The leeks, veggies and simple sauce. The freshness and flavor sound so inviting and is making me crave pasta with peas!! I just found a bag in my freezer! Thank you for this! Have a lovely weekend, Emilie!

  5. Sini says

    Simple spring pasta dishes are the best! Love the look and sound of this one. We still have to wait for fresh, local peas up here in the north (like at least till late May/early June!), but I’m sure this would work with frozen peas as well.

    • Emilie says

      I agree. It’s so nice to have fresh produce again. I will stuff myself with peas and zucchini until the next thing (hello, tomatoes!). And yes, frozen peas would be just fine :)

  6. Renata Moreti says

    Hi, Emilie! Found your blog through Saveur shortlist and you totally got me. So many amazing recipes, real food, beautiful pics and such a nice text! :-) You have one more fan! Keep the great job! Love from Brazil!

    • Emilie says

      Welcome Renata! So happy to have you here! I just got back form the gym and your comment made me smile- thank you for your sweet words :)

  7. says

    1. I voted for you! congrats, and yay!
    2. half the pasta – double the veg. I wrote this down. It’s genius.
    3. mini-zucchini, nothing could be cuter.

    I make stuff like this in a pinch or for comfort – i always add a squeeze of lemon, too!

    • Emilie says

      Francesca! THANK YOU SO MUCH. You are awesome. Yes- the pasta trick is amazing. I do it all the time and I promise no one suspects a thing. And I found the mini zucchini at the market recently. They are sweet and not very watery, which is nice. But they cook fast! I hope you can find some, although regular zucchini will work out just fine too.

      Yes please to lemon! I’m the same way (just wait till Thursday’s post!) xoxo

  8. says

    A gorgeous, fresh dish. I love this. My husband is a carnivore, and I ma not, but we have made it work. We have a deal though, if he wants to eat ribs or chicken wings, I go in the other room :) And if I want to spiralize all veggies and use them as pasta, I am on my own. It is working out great!

  9. Cathy says

    Made this for dinner last night and thoroughly enjoyed the flavors. I added a pinch of red pepper flakes, will definitely make again and so easy to make when you get home from work.

    • Emilie says

      That’s fantastic Cathy! Love the red paper flakes too- great addition. Glad this was a stress free meal! :)

  10. says

    I’ve been looking through your recipes since I happened upon your sourdough post (I’m growing my first starter!) and your photos are recipes all look so delicious. I can’t wait to try them.

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