It’s two thumbs up for this simply effortless 30 minute vegetarian Gluten Free Lemon Basil Zucchini Pasta dinner! It’s light and flavorful with all the freshness of spring.
By about 10 o’clock in the morning, every morning, Emry is usually asking me what I’m making for dinner. That kid just loves food. Not just loves food, but she LOVES food.
She plans out her meals for morning, noon, and night (with a few snacks thrown in the mix) before our day has even begun. She’s also adamant that she never misses a meal, and if a “meal” doesn’t live up to her standards, she insists that I make another one later to make up for my “mistake”.
A few weeks ago while we were in Utah, we came home later than expected from a shopping trip. We had already invited friends over for a nighttime swim and didn’t have time to make dinner before our guests arrived. Since I had made a batch of cupcakes earlier in the day (it just so happened to be Braelyn’s half birthday), I thought I would throw all mom control out the window for once in my life and just feed the girls cupcakes for dinner.
The very moment that suggestion came out of my mouth, Braelyn’s eyes lit up as if she had just heard the news that she was now president of the United States and everyone had to follow her each and every rule with no question or complaint. I mean eating dessert for dinner is that girl’s dream come true.
But at the very second that Braelyn was in all her glory, wondering what or who had taken over her mother’s better judgement, Emry looked as if her entire world had been torn apart. With tears welling up in her eyes, she asked me, “But why can’t we have real dinner???”
The poor kid. I was robbing her of dinner. How could I say no to that face. So, I nuked up some leftovers for all the hungry kiddos, let them burn off some energy in the swimming pool, and then busted out the cupcakes that quickly became demolished.
Today was a similar experience. I whisked my mom off to the airport after she had been helping me paint my house for a week. In true me fashion, we were running extremely late. I grabbed a mini cooler full of food (turkey, cheese, cucumbers, bell peppers, and applesauce) that I fully intended to be lunch. But just because we weren’t sitting down at our kitchen table with our food on a plate, Emry considered it a snack and insisted that I make her “real lunch” when we got home.
I do love seeing the expression on her face each night when I tell her what’s for dinner. Sometimes the look is pure disgust (those looks usually accompany any kind of potato or tortilla dish) and sometimes it’s complete delight (anything to do with pasta, pizza, or bacon).
Well tonight I was honored enough to receive the latter look since our dinner menu consisted of Gluten Free Lemon Basil Zuccnini Pasta. Not only is this pasta satisfying and tasty, but it’s also healthy and a perfectly filling vegetarian option for those nights you want to cut back on the meat…or you’ve just forgotten to thaw it in time. I’m sure this dish would be amazing with some grilled chicken or salmon. Oh yes, indeed.
Emry doesn’t quite give me the complete green light the second she hears pasta. She gives an initial nod of approval with a slight smile, but then she always asks, “What kind of pasta???”
She wants to know exactly what sauce I’m going to put on those noodles so that she can start finagling ways she can pick out her not so favorite veggies and be left with just the noodles. Since zucchini is not exactly her favorite veggie out there, I was skeptical how much she would enjoy this pasta dish. Well, she inhaled it, so I guess it lived up to her pasta standards.
I’ve really been on this basil kick lately. Seeing as how I kill everything that I plant, I’ve been buying these already grown basil plants from the store. I put them in most everything: sandwiches, dips, sauces, salads, you name it. I love the earthy flavor that a little basil gives. With the sauce being so light (basically just butter, pasta water, white wine and lemon juice), it needs that fresh herb like taste. And boy does that basil pair well with the rest of the flavors like garlic and onion!
Aside from that yummy hint of basil, my favorite part of this dish is the grape tomatoes that you add at the end. I grew up never realizing that you could eat tomatoes warm. We only ate them on sandwiches and salads, which are much better cold. It wasn’t until college that I even tried a sun-dried tomato. Since then, a whole new world of tomatoes has opened up to me. And in that world is warm grape tomatoes in pasta.
After the pasta is done cooking, you just toss in a pint of grape tomatoes and let them warm in the pot. By the time you serve the pasta, they are perfectly cooked. They are still bright red and beautiful like a fresh tomato and then you bite into them and a burst of lovely juice explodes in your mouth. These little gems Emry loves.
So really, between the quick and easy prep, the healthy ingredients, and the spot on taste, you can’t go wrong with this mid week meal. Next pasta night, opt for fresh and whip up this lemon basil zucchini pasta. Your savory taste buds are sure to thank you.
What is your go to pasta recipe?
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ onion, chopped
- 2 heaping cups chopped zucchini (about 1 large or 2 small)
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ⅓ cup white cooking wine
- ⅓ cup reserved pasta water
- 12 oz. preferred gluten free pasta noodles
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- 2-3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil, dependting on taste
- 1 dry pint grape tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons butter
- juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
- Boil salted water and cook gluten free pasta according to package directions.
- While water is heating/pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once oil is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles, add chopped onion and cook for 4-5 minutes until beginning to brown. Add chopped zucchini (cut in half lengthwise, then cut lengthwise again, and chopped ¼" thick). Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir to coat and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook 1 minute more.
- Drain pasta, reserving ⅓ cup pasta water. Pour pasta, pasta water, and white wine into pan. Stir and cook for 2 minutes until some of liquid has reduced. Add Parmesan cheese, basil, tomatoes, and butter. Cook and stir an additional minute until butter and cheese have melted. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice and stir.
- Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and serve immediately while still warm.