Pasta with Zucchini, Bottarga and Lemon Zest

Serves 4 as a main course

This is a great Sicilian summer pasta recipe using Bottarga – dried mullet or tuna roe. It is a very subtle flavour, [think in terms of taramasalata]. You can substitute ricotta if you can’t find bottarga. The mint adds a freshness to the sauce. But basil works equally well. The lemon zest keeps the flavour fresh.


  • 650g [1lb 7oz]– 3 large zucchini [courgettes], washed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 large red chilli, finely chopped [optional]
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 1 small bunch of mint or basil, coarsely chopped or teared
  • 50g [2oz] bottarga, freshly grated + extra for topping
  • 200g ricotta [optional]
  • Salt and pepper
  • 400g pasta such as spaghetti


Bring a saucepan of water to the boil, season well with salt.

Thinly slice the zucchini, pour the oil into a large frying pan or saucepan, preferably with a lid and cook the zucchini on a medium high heat until lightly browned and soft, about 15 – 20 mins. The lid will make it quicker to cook. Season with salt and pepper and when half way through cooking, add the garlic to cook and soften.

Prepare the chilli, lemon zest, mint and bottarga.

When the courgettes are half way through cooking, add the pasta to the boiling water, mix well to prevent any strands from sticking together. When the zucchini are cooked, set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, add the chilli, lemon zest, mint, bottarga, salt and pepper to the zucchini and mix well. The bottarga slightly melts and becomes quick creamy in consistency. Add a dash of the pasta water to loosen and mix the ingredients well. When the pasta is al dente, drain the pasta, reserving a cup full of the water and pour back into the saucepan off the heat.

Add the zucchini sauce and ricotta if using to the pasta, mix well and add some of the water to loosen the sauce and prevent it being too thick and glue like.

Check for seasoning, then serve straight away with a little extra bottarga grated on top ensuring each plate has enough sauce before handing out. The first plate always has less sauce than the last!