Pasta with Zucchini, Corn and Cilantro

A simple pasta with zucchini, corn and cilantro that hearty enough for a vegetarian main dish and also make an quick side dish. The recipe is adapted from Vegetables by Alice Waters.


4 small or 2 medium zucchini 

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, chopped

Pinch of red pepper flake (optional)

4 ears of corn, blanched and cut off the cob

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup water from blanching the corn

¼ cup chopped cilantro (more or less depending on your taste)

½ a lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

1 lb fettuccine


  • Shuck the corn. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Once the water comes to a boil, cook 3-5 minutes. Remove corn from the water. Leave the pot of water on the stove, because you can cook your pasta in it. You’ll also need 1 cup of the water reserved for the sauce.
  • Once the corn cobs are cool enough to handle, cut the corn off the cobs and set the corn aside until it’s time to add it to the pan.
  • Dice the zucchini. (It also works to shred it if you prefer). Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the diced zucchini and cook for about 5 minutes or until some of it begins to brown. While the zucchini is cooking, peel and chop 2 cloves of garlic.
  • Bring the large pot of reserved water from cooking the corn back to a boil and add the fettuccine. Cook according to package directions. 
  • Add the pinch of red pepper flake, the garlic and the corn to the pan and cook on medium to medium high heat for about another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Chop the cilantro.
  • After 5 minutes, add 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, the chopped cilantro and the 1 cup of the water you used to cook the corn.  
  • Once the fettuccine is cooked, drain it and add it to the pan of zucchini and corn sauce. Toss with the sauce. Squeeze the half lemon and add to the pan. Taste the sauce to see if it needs more salt, pepper or lemon.
  • Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.


Using fresh pasta (I buy it from a local Italian store) takes this dish to the next level.