Better Than Pasta Subtitutes: Summer Squash Noodle Recipe and Video

by | Aug 27, 2012
Squash Pasta

Squash Pasta

Recently a reader asked:

“Any tips on pasta substitutes? (I did read your post about how whole grain/whole wheat pasta isn’t really a whole lot better than regular pasta).”

Pasta and noodles can be tricky if you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy. Though some people consider Italian pasta (made from semolina flour) to be a low glycemic index food, in my experience frequent pasta consumption will start the scale moving slowly upward.

I love pasta, but eat it sparingly.

Luckily I have found a noodle substitute that I absolutely adore, and it’s even faster than boiling water.

Although I was shocked at how delicious this turned out, I was even more amazed at how easy it was to prepare. All you need is some summer squash, a vegetable peeler and a bowl (optional). Cook the noodles by quickly sautéing them with a little olive oil and Kosher salt.

You can use any sauce you like. I modified the simple tomato sauce recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.

Summer Squash Pasta & Simple Tomato Sauce


  • 2-4 summer squash such as zucchini
  • 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium fresh tomato
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ~10 leaves fresh basil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt

First run your garlic through a garlic press and place into a small bowl or cup. Add 1 tbsp warm water to the garlic, stir and set aside.

Next drain your tomatoes and reserve the liquid. Dice your fresh tomato into half inch cubes.

Chop your basil. Leaves such as mint and basil are easiest to cut if you chiffonade them by stacking the leaves on top of each other and rolling them lengthwise like a cigarette. From there they are easy to cut into thin strips.

In a pan heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant but not brown, about one minute. Add the canned tomatoes and simmer until sauce starts to thicken, about 8 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, peel squash as shown in the video. Saute the squash ribbons in olive oil on medium heat. Sprinkle with salt and sauté for no more than 2 minutes. Do not allow them to brown or soften. Noodles should be brightly colored and al dente. Remove from pan and set aside.

When sauce starts to thicken, add fresh tomatoes and basil. Add some reserved tomato liquid if it becomes too thick to work with. Cook sauce another 3 minutes or so and salt to taste.

Toss your sauce with squash noodles and serve immediately.

How else do you like to eat squash pasta?

This post and video are pretty old, but this is still one of my all-time favorite recipes. Originally published July 29, 2009.

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89 Responses to “Better Than Pasta Subtitutes: Summer Squash Noodle Recipe and Video”

  1. Alexandra says:

    my noodles are getting a lot of extra “juice” when I cook it so I am going to strain it, but any tips on how to cook the noodles???

  2. Samantha says:

    This recipe has changed my life. I don’t think I will ever go back to regular pasta. This had such a great flavor and I really like the tomato sauce recipe with it. I just love that I can have this great taste and still feel light and energetic after I eat it. My husband is not a pasta eater and he actually really enjoyed this dish!

  3. I’ve recently gone gluten-free for medical reasons, and have been lamenting the loss of pasta (which I eat rarely but greatly enjoy)! I made this today and I, my husband, and my one-year-old son all loved it…I can see it becoming a staple in the summer months when we get a ton of squash in our CSA share 🙂

  4. Margaret says:

    Always looking for an alternative to pasta and have tried squash many different ways — stumbled across this idea and couldn’t wait to try it! (I waited only two days.) It was great. I love summer squash in many different incarnations but this was the first time I actually felt like I was eating pasta except I wasn’t eating pasta! I made it incredibly low-fat, low-calorie … non-stick pan and olive oil cooking spray instead of 2 T oil … but definitely not non-taste! Fresh sauteed veggies on top: chopped fresh tomato, hot pepper and green beans from the garden, portobello mushrooms, eggplant, onion, minced garlic (and roasted garlic for good measure) and a little tomato sauce with basil to bind it all together … it was fabulous. I’m totally psyched for the leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch! Thanks, this is a real keeper.

  5. Joe says:

    I can affirm that zuks make a great pasta alternative. Fast, delicious and healthy. Add some crumbled feta on top for added flavor and satiation.



  6. Trying this tonight. I found a Light Stroganoff recipe that I wanted to try, but not over rice or noodles. I was very sad, and didn’t think I could make the ‘spaghetti’ without some sort of crazy tool so I am Sooooo excited I found your site and had the ‘duh moment’ of why didn’t I think of that? 🙂 Thanks and will be back for more tips and recipes.

  7. Erin says:

    This was phenomenal!!!!!!!!!! Seriously, as you said, life-changing. No more will I dread the abundance of summer squash in the…summer. We have more coming in our delivery this week and I’m really excited about it. Thank you!!

  8. Brian says:

    I would like to do the summer squash like spaghetti but how do I cook it. Do I boil it like pasta or fry it

  9. Craig says:

    Just tried this but with a Elyse’s spaghetti sauce it was the bomb

  10. Monster says:

    I was going to make an herbed squash casserole tonight (it’s so flipping good!…) but I just realized I’m out of brown rice, and wouldn’t ya know it, I’m out of pasta, too. Oops. Gonna whip this up instead. Thanks for the recipe!

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