herbed summer squash pasta bake

One of the things I’ve first-world struggled with since the beginning of this incubation period is a lack of appetite. Of course, there’s the glib side of me — great for managing weight gain! why “eat for two” if you can eat for half?! — but mostly, it’s a bummer. I thought that after the first trimester nausea passed, I’d be good to go and yes, I’m back to eating regular meals, but my enthusiasm has only returned in short bursts. Sure, I’ve shamelessly consumed all matter of crispy eggs with soy sauce, sesame oil and chile flakes (flipped only long enough to keep the food police at bay, or so I tell you). I will eat almost any green vegetable roasted to a blistering crisp with olive oil and salt and finished with lemon juice. Speaking of lemons, we go through homemade, barely sweet lemonade by the half-carafe. And some cravings are even fun; for example, “the baby wants ribs” was a text I sent out to friends a few weeks ago while led to a great deck party. But do you know when I sat down with my plate after an afternoon of carefully preparing three glorious racks of ribs, I could only eat one? It’s rather grim for a so-called food writer to go through life unmotivated by hunger and cravings, to have become a person who shrugs and says “Meh, whatever you want to eat is fine.” I don’t even know me.

zucca shape, which turns out to not mean zucchini
summer squash and zucchini

And so, with just a couple weeks to go and with the additional invader of final-stretch fatigue, rather than continuing to try to push myself to cook things I lose interest in halfway — a saffron-brothed couscous salad from last week is the latest victim — I’m instead shifting my focus to future meals. Because if there’s anything I remember from the baby-feeding side of things from last time, it’s that I was hungry enough that I honestly would have eaten the sofa if I was more convinced it would have gone down well with a couple shakes of hot sauce. I kind of can’t wait.

thinly sliced squash

So, let’s talk about freezer meals. I didn’t prepare these last time; we’re New Yorkers, baby! We can order anything at any time! Plus, our families brought food over and we made do. But this time, we have a 5 year-old who needs proper meals and snacks and I imagine the transition to being a family of four will be exhausting enough that we will not need the additional stress of a hangry kid, nor will he need the additional stress of not knowing if dinner will be ready any time soon. I bemoaned in a comment conversation recently that I wasn’t sure how to plan future meals when I barely had motivation to plan tonight’s dinner, but the solution has turned out to be very simple: cook once, freeze half.

seared, lemon juice-d

But I was still stuck. When I think of things that freeze well, I think of casseroles, macaroni and cheese, heavy lasagnas, enchiladas, essentially bricks of deep, wintery foods and I don’t know about you, but the thought of eating this way in the summer — especially with the added stress of trying to eradicate that baby belly (mine, of course; all attached to actual tiny humans can and should be worn with pride) — depresses me. It’s hot and sticky enough in New York. I wondered how many dishes could be reoriented to the spring and summer months, maybe with local produce and herbs snipped from our deck garden.

my herb garden!

I began dreaming about a summer version of this past winter’s mushroom marsala pasta bake. My favorite things about it were how heavy it was on vegetables relative to a small amount of pasta, that it wasn’t terribly rich but it had a ton of flavor, and, if you played your cards right, it could be made and then baked entirely in one pot. And yet, it was anything but workaday or predictable. It tasted special. It tasted like the kind of thing I would want to defrost first, given the chance.

herbing up the sauce
stir everything together

And so as soon as the goofy-looking summer squash appeared at markets last week, I got to work. They’re sliced thin and seared at a blistering high heat in olive oil with salt and pepper flakes until browned and semi-collapsed, then doused with a little lemon juice. The pasta sauce is a bechamel, but loaded with early summer scallions, a bit of garlic, a handful of fresh herbs and lemon zest, this “white sauce” is instead green-flecked and summery. There’s just enough cheese that you know it’s going to be delicious but not so much that you’re going to need a nap, because heaven knows that’s not going to be in the cards for us for the next 18 years. [Woe.] It reheats wonderfully, and simultaneously solved a weekend dinner crisis and one for some as-yet-decided future date. Basically, I think we should make it president.

summer squash pasta bake
summer squash pasta bake

freezer meal inspirationMore Freezer Meal Inspiration: For those of us who plan ahead, and those of us (cough!) who are learning to, here’s a collection from the SK archives of dishes that freeze well, including a beloved Spinach and Cheese Strata, Thick Chewy Granola Bars (psst, a new nut-, dairy- and gluten-free version coming soon), Three Bean Chili, Baked Chicken Meatballs and 35 more, here with pretty pictures on Pinterest or listed from the Recipe Index.


One year ago: Frozen Coconut Limeade
Two years ago: Pickled Vegetable Sandwich Slaw
Three years ago: Cold Rice Noodles with Peanut-Lime Chicken
Four years ago: Rich Homemade Ricotta
Five years ago: Chocolate Doughnut Holes and Bread and Butter Pickles
Six years ago: Spanikopita Triangles and Neapolitan Cake
Seven years ago: Pistachio Petit-Four Cake
Eight years ago: Strawberry Tart

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Deep Dark Gingerbread Waffles
1.5 Years Ago: Breakfast Slab Pie
2.5 Years Ago: Parsnip Latkes with Horseradish and Dill
3.5 Years Ago: Cashew Butter Balls

Herbed Summer Squash Pasta Bake

I doubled this, and froze half.

Serves 4, heartily, as written

8 ounces pasta, any shape you like
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (you won’t need this yet, but better to zest before juicing, to avoid grumpiness)
Juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large or 5 skinny scallions, sliced thin and white/pale green parts and dark green tops in separate piles
Pinches of red pepper flakes, to taste
3 tablespoons (25 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk, ideally whole but low-fat will also work
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped mixed herbs of your choice (I used a mix of thyme, oregano and mint, but if you only have, say, thyme or oregano, a full tablespoon will likely overwhelm, so use less)
Salt and more pepper to taste
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan or aged pecorino romano cheese, divided
4 ounces (115 grams) mozzarella, cut into small cubes

Cook the pasta: If you’ve got an oven-safe 3-quart deep skillet or braising pan, use it here and you’ll only need one pot for the whole recipe. Otherwise, bring an medium/large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 to 2 minutes before perfect doneness. Drain and set aside.

Heat oven: To 400 degrees.

Prepare the squash: Heat a large skillet or the pot you just used to cook your pasta to high heat. Once hot, add olive oil, and let it heat until almost smoking. Add sliced squash, season it with salt and pepper flakes and let it sear underneath, unmoved, until golden brown. Continue to saute until browned and somewhat wilted, about 10 minutes, trying to get some color on each layer before moving squash around. Transfer to a bowl and squeeze lemon juice over bowl. Add more salt or pepper if needed.

Make the sauce: Reheat your the same pot over medium heat. Melt butter in bottom of pan. Add scallion white and pale green parts and garlic and let sizzle for 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour and stir until all has been dampened and absorbed. Add milk, a very small splash at a time, stirring the whole time with a spoon. Make sure each splash has been fully mixed into the butter/flour/onion/garlic mixture, scraping from the bottom of the pan and all around, before adding the next splash. Repeat until all milk has been added, then add lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Let mixture simmer together for 2 minutes, stirring frequently; the sauce will thicken. Remove pan from heat and stir in half of chopped parsley, all of mixed herbs and reserved scallion greens. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Assemble dish: Off the heat, add drained pasta, summer squash, 1/2 cup grated parmesan and all of the mozzarella to the pot, stirring to combine. If pan is ovenproof, you can bake your final dish in it. If not, transfer mixture to a 2 to 3 quart ovenproof casserole or baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup parmesan.

Bake: For 25 to 30 minutes, until edges of pasta are golden brown and irresistible. Sprinkle with reserved parsley and serve hot. Reheat as needed.

To freeze: Let dish fully cool to room temperature, then transfer, wrapped well, to the freezer. Let defrost in fridge for a day before rewarming in oven. If I have time, I like to rewarm at a lowish heat (300 to 325 degrees) with the foil on, then finish it for the last 10 minutes or so at a higher heat without the foil to restore some crisp.

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246 comments on herbed summer squash pasta bake

  1. I can’t wait to try this one out this week. There’s always SO MUCH squash available this time of year, you almost don’t even know what to do with it all. This looks like a great meatless Mondays meal, too.

    1. deb

      Kristen — Actually, funny story about this pasta. I can never resist a goofy pasta shape, and these bell-shaped flowers from the Sfoglini brand were too weird not to buy. In fact, it was their shape — called “zucca” — which made me thinking of zucchini blossoms and what a summery pasta bake would look like, so I saved them until I had a plan. Alas, my Italian is nonexistent at best, and zucca, as innumerable people are about to tell me, actually means pumpkin. Oh well, I tried.

      (I’ve seen the brand around NYC; it’s local, I think. I bought this at Bedford Cheese on Irving. I used another shape from the brand, Reginetti, for the recent pasta salad.)

    2. Lindsay

      Hi! You can buy Sfoglini pasta directly from them online. And I can’t recommend their bucatini enough!! Best we’ve ever had!

  2. Rachel

    This looks positively divine. I wonder…what would occur if I crossed this magical looking dish with the magical tasting cauliflower cheese? Or maybe I’ll just make both tonight. Who is counting bags of cheese in this house anyway! :D

  3. Julie

    Funny, but when I saw the title of the recipe (but before I read it), I thought : ‘I wonder if you could FRY the zuch, along the lines of the Ottolenghi pasta salad recipe’–the fried Z being the best part of that dish. And, VIOLA!) So, I’m wondering if that recipe’s innovation was the inspiration for this. After that, I’ll never look down my nose at summer squash again. :))

  4. Emily

    Yes! Cook once, freeze half was my post-baby meal prep strategy. I’m in awe of pregnant women with enough energy to devote a whole weekend to stocking the freezer. And also yes, I was grateful to have my son in January. So. Much. Soup.

  5. mimi

    My 28 week pregnant self thanks you for putting together this board of freezer-friendly meals. Most of the meals on there sound pretty heavy to me right now, but since I’m not due until mid-September, they’ll probably all taste pretty good when we get around to eating them!

  6. This looks gorgeous! I am always looking for new ways to use squash and zucchini, and this looks creative and delicious. (great idea to freeze half, as well! It’s always such a treat to be short on time and have a beautiful meal tucked away in the freezer for quick sustenance.)
    Happy Summer!
    xx Lane

  7. Emily

    Looking forward to trying this out! My gardening friends and I are playing a game of ‘who can come up with daily recipes using two or more in-season produce items’, and this one looks like a winner for using a mix of summer squash from the garden and some scallions and various herbs from the herb bed.

    I’m avoiding processed foods right now (can life without pasta be anything but sadness? I hope so!), so I’m going to try replacing the pasta with cauliflower and see how it goes. (And yes, we’re ignoring the fact that cheese is technically a processed food because life without cheese is definitely only sadness.) Thank you for the dinner inspiration! :)

  8. berit

    You plan more ahead then I did, I felt so dizzy after birth, that I was glad when I could make myself a simple cheese sandwich, let alone cook anything.

  9. JP

    Interestingly, I just made your pasta and fried zucchini salad with a lot of these same ingredients, but not baked. This might be what Julie #6 was thinking about. I made it with small shell pasta and in every shell there was a pea upon mixing it all together! I had homemade pesto so mixed that in instead of the basil. It was pretty yummy! Anyway, baked, of course will freeze better for use in future meals. Winter, summer, spring or autumn, baked cheesie pasta always tastes good in my book. Best wishes in these last weeks carrying your little one!

  10. Carolyn

    Your thick and chewy granola bar recipe got me through the first 6 weeks for both my daughter’s birth 2 years ago, and my son’s birth 6 months ago. I froze a few batches ahead of time (individual portions) and ate them straight from the freezer when nursing the little bubs. The granola bars were the perfect, one handed snack for a new mum! I now make them for new parent friends :)

  11. Amy Daryani

    This seems like the love child of two of your recipes that I find totally delicious: the Ottolenghi pasta salad w summer squash, and the baked pasta with Italian sausage and broccoli rabe. Which means I need to make this soon.

  12. Abby

    I had the same freezer meal dilemma, since my 2nd baby was just born in May and I didn’t want to sit down to a heavy casserole each night and I have 2 freezer friendly solutions for you-
    make giant batches of:
    Pork potstickers or dumplings- just add edamame and that’s dinner!
    Tamales- shredded beef, chile and cheese, sweet corn and cheese, the possibilities are endless and a few tamale’s and a pile of guac is a decent summer meal.
    Would LOVE to see what other freezer friendly meals you come up with (your mini meatloaves are fantastic freezer food as well!)

  13. john burke

    Julia Child’s béchamel recipe called for taking the flour-butter roux off the heat and adding the milk all at once; Deb, your recipe says add it a splash at a time. In my experience it doesn’t seem to make much difference–I add it all at once while conginuing to stir the roux, but then I switch to a whisk to make sure I don’t get lumps. Works fine.

    1. Charlotte Rocker

      I made this today, swapping chicken stock for the milk to make it a little lighter (and more similar to the mushroom Marsala pasta bake, which is arguably my favorite SK recipe of all time). It turned out beautifully! Sharing in case anyone else was curious about that substitution.

  14. gabrielle

    it’s like you’re reading my mind. i made your mushroom marsala bake last night and thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if there was a more summery version? (i kid you not!) thanks so much for all that you do deb!

  15. I did freezer meals before I had my first, and I’ve been doing the freezing-half thing ever since. Because, turns out, making dinner is sometimes tough for YEARS after you have a baby… like 18. ;) This looks awesome, and I can’t wait for my bumper crop of zucchini so I can make a couple batches!

  16. Tamsin

    Ratatouille freezes really well and if you add an egg and some bread it makes a good dinner. I made several batches of potstickers for the freezer when I was pregnant but had a killer back ache after standing folding them all!

  17. Your knish recipe freezes beautifully, unbaked. Before my son was born I took a day off work with the express purpose of making a ton of freezer meals, those knish included. Instead I went into labor. Fortunately, friends brought around food almost every night for the first couple of weeks.

  18. MJ

    Don’t be hard on yourself for having no appetite – I went through my second pregnancy like that too. Thank you for this recipe; I look forward to finding the other half in my freezer in a month or so.

  19. This looks amazing! When I was pregnant with my son, in a nesting frenzy in the final weeks I made and froze huge batches of your cauliflower-parm soup, and also Giada’s tomato-white bean soup with rosemary and lemon. So, so good.

    1. KatieK

      I’ve posted about this recipe twice. I was just reading through some older comments to see if others found it labor intensive. Deb responded to a question regarding making the sauce with the instruction to add the milk slowly for the first 1/3 to 1/2 and then the rest can be added at once. The written recipe doesn’t make that distinction, making it seem that the entire amount has to go gradually. I think that would reduce the prep time substantially. It really is tasty dish, I just wanted it streamlined a bit.

  20. DianeKirkland

    After thawing, at what temp do you reheat and for about how long? Love your recipes, thank you. Best wishes on your upcoming adventure.

  21. Stephany

    Deb, did i miss the part where you add the sauce? I assume you add when you are assembling but wanted to make sure.

  22. Katy Elliott

    I’ve never left a comment but read your blog for yours. I just have to say I’m pregnant with my second too and again with this pregnancy have no appetite besides salad, fruit and fried eggs. It’s a bummer. I miss really cooking but my lack of appetite and puking daily makes it a waste. Cheers to you to being on the home stretch!! Love your freezer ideas… I’ll be saving them for postpartum when I too could eat a couch! xoxo

  23. deb

    Sarah — They don’t impart as much onion flavor because they don’t have a bulb end, but you can use them.

    Matt — I’m sure a red sauce would work, I just prefer the lightness of the white herby sauces, applied lightly.

    john burke — But does she have you heat the milk first, as is traditional? I do it in splashes, but cold, to skip that step (and extra dish). Once 1/3 to 1/2 the milk is added (which takes all of 45 seconds), you can add the rest at once.

    berit — That was definitely the case with the first one. But now I feel more of an obligation because the first one needs dinner. Even if my husband and I could just fend for ourselves or order sandwiches, I feel guilty if my son eats too much take-out.

    Stephany — You make the sauce on the stove and then stir all the other ingredients into in the next step. If the stovetop pan is ovensafe, you can then just bake right in it.

    DianeKirkland — I like to rewarm things at a low heat, I’d say 300, if you have time. Mostly with foil and then at the end without so it crisps up.

    Lucy — Thanks for the tip! I’ll give the tomato-white bean soup a spin. I basically like all intersections of tomatoes and white beans.

  24. lee

    FYI – I seem to recall making your butternut squash galette on a night there were just 2 of us (ha!) and freezing the copious leftovers…it froze & reheated like a champ. Another freezer fave in our house is Joy The Baker’s Turkey Bacon Meatloaf. Eat half, freeze half. Heaven.

  25. Tara

    You’re awesome Deb! I’m 34 weeks preggo and was starting to stress about cooking ahead of time. This post makes me feel much better. Hang in there, you are in the home stretch!

  26. Lindsay

    ah, this looks amazing! At almost 38 weeks I wish I had the energy to make and freeze some meals for when baby comes. Instead we stopped by Trader Joe’s and bought a bunch of their frozen meals and meal components. This will allow the hubs to at least get some food on the table… Plus we anticipate eating lots of take out from our local thai place… First baby :)

  27. Michelle

    Oh I actually snorted loudly with laughter at the line about zesting before juicing to avoid grumpiness. I’m sticking to the excuse that I’m missing the synapse in my brain that tells normal people to do this because if I don’t I’m going to have to admit to relentless stupidity… especially when rather than simply walk outside and pick another lemon from the tree in my back yard, I doggedly and stubbornly persist in trying to zest the flaccid carcass that I just juiced. I think I need help!!

  28. Suzanne

    Lindsay, just seconding, for the sake of pregnant readers too tired to cook and freeze, that Trader Joe’s frozens save lives. I spent 200 bucks, stocked the freezer, and didn’t worry about feeding my older kid for a month after the baby was born. Best wishes to you and Deb both – enjoy every minute.

  29. While I’ve never been pregnant, I have experienced a lack of appetite during times of sickness, and I know how awful that feels, so I’m so sorry you aren’t feeling up to eating. It’s the worst thing that can happen to a foodie, nevertheless a food blogger! But if it helps, as a reader I haven’t noticed this lack of appetite with all the beautiful recipes you keep whipping out, this pasta bake included! What a great idea to incorporate summer squash – so lovely. I’m sure your older boy will be well-fed (it’s impossible for him to not be with you as a mom!), and I wish you the best of luck with delivery and your newborn! XO

  30. Sarah

    Very excited about the dairy, nut and gluten free granola bars – they sound like a great gift for a friend who avoids all those things and who gave birth two days ago.

  31. Erin

    Just a note about the pasta: zucca is for any squash, in fact “zucchine” are just small squashes. So you got it right :)

  32. May be making a special trip to NYC just to find those pasta shells! This is the perfect recipe to add other summer veggies to…can’t wait to try it!

  33. I made this last night, tweaked slightly based on what I had already on hand. It was delicious, and the husband said, “I would not be opposed to you making this again. I would in fact be excited.”

  34. Hang in there, you’re almost finished with the incubation. Thank you for continuing to inspire your fans with great eats despite your lack of appetite
    . This looks luscious and I can’t wait to make it, but those pasta shells! I can’t find anything like them where I live! OY VEY!

  35. Suzanne

    You are a smart lady. I didn’t prepare a thing with my baby, either. Instead my mom made me my favorite casserole – a guilty, non-epicurean mix of rice, shredded turkey, canned green beans, onions, Velveeta (gasp!), some kind of condensed soup. I wiped it out in a few days. Every time we woke up with the baby, my hubby would automatically go to the kitchen and scoop out a serving for me. Sometimes he’d show me the paltry serving, and I’d cry, “MOAR!” Then I asked my mom to make a vat of it. She brought over her largest mixing bowl filled to the brim with the unhealthy, satisfying goodness. I still thank her for that. It was my light in the darkness of caring for a newborn that isn’t into sleeping.

  36. Victoria

    I made this last night and it was so divine! The flavors were so deep and rich that I believed I could split this into a “Serves 8” dish, but no. Not a chance. It was so delicious that I feel like I have a new favorite flavor profile. Thanks Deb!!

  37. This sounds so delicious and, I know this sounds completely batty, but we are one of those no-grain households… I am thinking I might try it with pre-cooked chicken in place of the pasta! I’ll report back!!

  38. Michelle

    I love your herb garden! Any tips on how to do a container garden? I live in the city and have no outdoor space and really limited direct sunlight. I always try to grow herbs – but they always die!! any tips?

  39. It was totally so delicious.I ;love your blog because i found a huge of recipes and daily daily i will try your new recipes.Thanks for sharing..

  40. Sara Ann

    I just want to put in an enthusiastic vote for the nut free, dairy-free granola bars – can’t wait. And this looks amazing too. Thanks :)

  41. Sarah

    Deb, two questions: 1. How do you fit copious frozen meals into your freezer? 2. What do you put the food in (before it goes into the freezer)?

  42. deb

    Sarah — I have barely anything in my freezer right now, which is tiny, just a pan of this and some granola bars (soon!). I’m JUST getting started. I plan to use some foil pans I bought and for wetter things, gallon freezer bags, frozen flat for space efficiency.

    Michelle — This is my first and only container garden ever, so I’m definitely not an expert. We’re lucky to have space and a lot of sunlight (eastern exposure, with some southern at the end), which might be the only reason I haven’t killed everything yet. I did try to get good soil, plus I’ve been using fertilizer sticks and of course you want to make sure all of your pots have drainage (we have two that do not and it’s a huge swampy and kind of stinky mess we have to deal with today — yay). The herbs I started from seed (parsley and basil) are coming along the slowest, because I should have started them sooner. I joke that we’ll have ONE bowl of pesto pasta by Halloween. However, seeds are more economical and give you a lot more options than nursery plants, which are usually chosen by which they can sell the most of. I haven’t bought this Square Food Gardening book yet, but I should. It’s definitely the bible on this kind of stuff.

    Christina — Yes, I’m obsessed! (As the above might give away.)

  43. Jenn Goforth

    My daughter and I made this for dinner last night with no changes except doubling because there’s 5 of us. This was phenomenal — the fresh herbs, the bright lemon, the cheese. Somehow, I’ve ended up with 3 teens who love veggies, and in particular love summer squash, so this was a huge hit with everyone. I can’t wait to eat leftovers for lunch today, although I may have to fight off the previously mentioned teenagers! Good luck in these last few weeks of incubation. Is there a pool you can float in? I bet that would feel great…

  44. jill billions

    I made this last night and even my picky eater ate every bite. Often I find vegetable pasta dishes lacking in flavor and this one was flavor packed ! Yum. Being the glutton for cheese that I am, I probably doubled the mozzarella and certainly increased the parmesan. Thank you, thank you thank you !

  45. Deardeedle

    At 30 weeks today, thank you for writing this. I also have not really eaten a true meal since, well, 30 weeks ago. As a food lover and someone whom cooking is zen, it makes me feel not-alone :)

  46. This seems like a great recipe! I tend to cook a lot of squash and zucchini in the summer months so I will definitely be trying this soon! I love that it is mostly veggies and not a lot of pasta. I find myself not being a big pasta eater, especially in these warmer months. I’ve also been using a lot of lemon juice and zest since I find it very refreshing. Very anxious to try this recipe!

  47. Alice

    Last winter, I spent a weekend stocking my freezer with every free-form galette on your site. They’re perfect for freezing since they don’t require dishes for storage, bake from frozen, and the portion size is great!

    Love your herb garden–I’m starting my own (small) one FINALLY this weekend (definitely not from seed at this point). What would you recommend as your essential fresh herbs? I sadly only have space for 4, maybe 5.

  48. Dana

    Made this tonight. It was delicious. I added young/tender asparagus to the zukes and sautéed together (they didn’t really brown too much but it was still tasty). The lemon juice and zest were a wonderful, bright addition.

  49. nora1

    Dear Deb. thanks for another gorgeous looking recipe which I will be trying tomorrow. A dear friend with 3 kids told me when I was pregnant with second baby that the biggest transition is from zero babies to one baby, and that from one baby to two babies is a much smaller shift. I found this to be spot on.

  50. This looks absolutely delicious. The quality of the pictures weights a lot but it looks amazing anyway. And it doesn’t seem so difficult to make it. I think I’ll try it.

  51. Rebecca

    I made this last night for us to bake and eat tonight. Maybe because it was late, maybe because I was tired…. but it seemed like an awful lot of work and prep! I am assuming it will taste awesome, but I’m not sure I’ll make it again. Well, definitely I won’t make it on a weeknight :) I threw in some cauliflower I’d steamed too.

  52. louise

    I’m a huge fan of this, just made a double batch to freeze half of, as someone suggested. Alas, all pastas are not alike…I chose nuggets…cute shape, hoping the little gaps would trap the sauce, it did. HOWEVER, the pasta cooked up to twice the size and since I had just shy of the required amount of zucchini it was way too much pasta. I could’ve been more vigilant but went with it since first time using a recipe I always follow precisely. Next time I know how to adjust it. Does all pasta cook up twice the size or am I missing something? Maybe it’s worth a mention…

  53. Susan

    Those wonderful little chicken meatballs you make would go great with this pasta. You might make and freeze a container of those to keep handy.

  54. Katherine

    Wow – so delicious! I made this last night for dinner. It’s just my husband and I so I made the recipe for four and put it in two containers, one for last night and one for the freezer. This was pretty easy and I had most everything right from the garden. Thank you!

  55. Rupa

    Hi Deb! This recipe was awesome- totally summery and fun to make and serve w/ a salad. I used basil/parsley/scallions because that was what I had and 2% milk. Great recipe and will def make again. Thanks as always! All the best for the rest of your pregnancy.

  56. Christine

    It sure would be great if you’d post lists like the freezer meals in a list that’s on your site instead of pinterest – I’m trying not to sign up for so much stuff and they won’t let you look at it if you don’t sign up…

  57. Susan

    Just a note to thank you for this perfect recipe. We had the first of the season’s zucchini gifting from neighbors Wednesday night and it was wonderful to be able to make them into a main dish with plenty to share with them. I would encourage everyone to bake this in cast iron. The crust was beautiful!

  58. Made this last night, I thought the herbs and lemon were great, just a little overwhelmed by too much cheese. I cut the cheese amount in half and felt it was still too much, it overwhelmed the herb flavors. I still think it is a great recipe. I added some garlicky bread crumbs to the top for a little crunch.

  59. I made this last night with a mixture of basil, mint, and tarragon and it was really lovely. The mint really worked nicely with the squash and set off the lemon really well. I only used green zucchini though- we got 9 in our CSA this week and I only eat the green because I think the yellow get a bit too soggy.

    Great recipe for a brunch or early dinner in the soggy Northeast right now.

  60. Kerry

    Hi, Deb. Made this last night using squash but added sauteed spinach and diced ham. For herbs we used tarragon, chives and dill. It was phenomenal. Thanks so much for a great clean-out-the-fridge recipe that we’ll use all summer long.

  61. Kim

    Deb, I love this recipe and have tried to add comments about my experience with it, but keep getting this VERY ANNOYING GMC pop-up ad that gives me no option to close and my comments are gone when it ends. Suffice it to say I will never buy GMC!

  62. Hi Deb, just made the mushroom marsala bake today but put it straight in the freezer without baking. Can we do the same with this recipe? How would you tweak your instructions to bake this after thawing the unbaked frozen dish?

  63. Heather

    My husband made this for me last night (after I requested it) and it was delicious! The only change he made was adding cheese to the sauce to make up for the almond milk substitution (ok, there were two changes). :)

  64. I made this last night with a mixture of basil, mint, and tarragon and it was really lovely. Those wonderful little chicken meatballs you make would go great with this pasta.

  65. deb

    eatyeats — I haven’t frozen this or the mushroom dish unbaked, but I suspect it wouldn’t be an issue. I would give the frozen dish a day to defrost in the fridge before baking. Would love to hear how it goes!

    Kim — Sorry, we will look into having it removed. (Not showing up on our end, or we would have already.)

    Jaya — I think it would work well with other vegetables, especially green ones which go well with lemon and herbs. Just cook them first.

  66. LI

    Really yummy! I added half a yellow pepper to the zucchini, and no lemon as I didn’t have any on hand. Penne worked perfectly. I used thyme, rosemary and one sage leaf for herbs. I’ll definitely be making it again.

  67. Jenny

    Om nom nom…Deb, I am so sorry, I hacked your recipe and it was totally scrumptious! I played the “Nonna wouldn’t not make something delicious just because she doesn’t have all the right ingredients” card.
    What did I modify (necessity’s a mother, too)? No scallions – minced white onion instead. Added a white wine deglaze after browning squash because the pot was all gunky and I didn’t want to wash it and I had an open bottle thereof, then poured in on the squash with the lemon juice. No parsley, so lots of basil. And there’s only thyme in the herb garden. The mozzarella was soft, fresh, and hand-torn to bits. No complaints. The lemon is a WINNER!

    Thank you! I look forward to making this again with the next CSA box.

  68. deb

    Kelly — I think you could squeeze it in a 4-quart pan. It might be on the full side, not a bad thing in a pasta bake. I baked the equivalently-sized mushroom marsala pasta from earlier this year in a 2-quart, and the rectangular dish you see here is 3-quart, and it’s just over the halfway mark.

  69. Crescent

    This was great – the lemon and herbs really added to the béchamel. I added a 14 oz can of diced tomatoes (well drained) to the mix. It seemed maybe a little soupier than intended while it was baking, but it thickened up fine when I let it sit for a few minutes after baking.

  70. Aileen

    I don’t even like summer squash, but this was delicious! I had a little sauce mishap (didn’t whisk the milk into the roux as well as I should have), so it was a little lumpy, but I persevered and it still tasted great.

  71. Holy cow, this dish was aMaZiNg!!!!! It had more than enough cheese to make my husband love it (who, a month ago, would have said “no” if I asked him if he liked zucchini–bwahaha how times have changed!). P.S. This was my first ever bechamel and my life will never be the same again. Thank you! P.P.S. I used mint plus green and purple basil. Gotta love homegrown herbs!

  72. Made this last weekend – replaced almost half of the mozarella with a nice feta, because it felt like it fits, in my head. For herbs, used parsley, basil and thyme, but didn’t exactly measure them because it’s kind of annoying to do that; I eyeballed the amount, and probably ended up with much more than the recipe calls for. But since it turned out great, no regrets!

  73. Question: How did you measure 8 oz of pasta? It seemed like not enough pasta, but it turned out delicious. I switched the mozzarella cheese for cheese curds and the scallions for shallots. Thank you!

    1. deb

      Xiomara — I weighed it. I actually always weigh pasta servings because volume doesn’t tell us much when every pasta shape is so different.

  74. Natasha

    This was phenomenal. I added some sauteed spinach so I could feel like I was eating more vegetables. I might disagree that this heartily serves four, at least by itself. My boyfriend and I each ate 1/3 of the pan, and the final third will be split with some garlic bread and roasted broccoli to stretch it out. Maybe we eat more heartily than others; either way, this is going into the regular rotation.

  75. Looks delicious– I am also pregnant, in the final stretch. My food blog has been pretty poor since I got pregnant! I feel the same way– I am just not very excited about food. I HAVE to eat, I am hungry all the time, but I don’t have very much enthusiasm and I certainly don’t enjoy the experience like I usually do. I miss REALLY enjoying a meal. Hopefully soon! Our little one comes in August.

    Our first… and ordering food out where we’re living (Malaysia) isn’t so easy, so I need to get organized STAT!

  76. Abby

    This was great, and the leftovers are even better! I also added sauteed mushroom slices. The only thing I’d do differently next time is slice the squash just a little thicker–the thin slices kind of disappeared,which may be good if you don’t like to eat your veggies! Thanks for the recipe that helps me deal with TOO MUCH summer squash from our CSA, and for a recipe that showed me I can totally handle making a white sauce! Who knew?

  77. Katherine

    I was actually on my way to find your Rice Krispie treat recipe (uhhhhhhh yessss) when I suddenly saw this on the front page and thought ‘oh well there’s dinner.’

    Being in Australia I only had zucchini to work with, so just used those. It was so yummy. I may have been a little generous with the cheese and essentially made herb and zucchini mac-n-cheese but I’m at peace with that :-)

  78. Allie

    Deb, if I wanted to add crumbled sweet italian sausage, would I cook it all the way through before adding? Or semi-cook it and let it finish in the oven?

    1. deb

      Allie — I would brown it first for best texture/flavor. Actually, check out this pasta bake I did with broccoli rabe and sausage a while back. You can follow the instructions there, where the rendered fat is applied towards the bechamel sauce… and it’s delicious.

  79. Katherine

    This was great, Deb! Used green zucchini. Herb mix included thyme, mint, oregano and some lemon verbena I had just trimmed back. The zucchini loves the lemony boost! Thanks for another delicious recipe. I’ve been making your strawberry/rhubarb pie filling, but putting it into 6 oz. bakers under a blanket of Ina’s crisp topping. Totally addictive.

  80. Kristyn

    This recipe was a hit with visiting in-laws and vegetarian cousins alike. The lemon zest was perfect with the light flavors. I used a quinoa spiral pasta but would sub it out for an even smaller variety next time. I didn’t have confidence that I could pull off the sauce but I did!

  81. Julie

    So excited to make this with the squash I got in last week’s CSA. Also just had to order a bunch of Zucca pasta from Amazon Fresh because, well, pumpkins.

  82. Emily

    My husband and I just devoured this amazing dish! Will definitely be making this again! It was great for our CSA veggies- I used yellow squash, zucchini, and a pattypan squash. Forgot to reserve half of the parsley, so it all went into the sauce, but it was fine. The amount of sauce and cheesiness was perfect. Thanks!

  83. Stephanie

    the lemon in this is spectacular. i made this for a friend and his 9-month old baby suffering the sudden loss of their wife/mommy. there is a biweekly meal sign-up sheet going around among friends who live close by. deb, you wouldn’t believe the feels when i received his feedback “…that was one of the most delicious meals i’ve had in a long time. Trudy wouldn’t stop eating it.” THANK YOU for the gift of creative and healing comfort food.

  84. Melanie

    This was SPECTACULAR! My husband I debated not putting it in the oven because it was so good on its own, but the browning and crisping was really nice. We had some pasta dough hanging around so we made some gemelli and they held up really well in the dish. We also threw in some CSA garlic scapes (along with CSA basil, parsley, and oregano!) and they gave a wonderful flavor to the sauce. Now I’m hoping for more zucchini and scapes!

  85. Very much looking forward to trying this! By this time of year, I am always scratching my head trying to think of something new to do with the seemingly never ending squash supply from our garden. Now, I can freeze a meal or three of this and a few less bags of “sorry I wasn’t creative enough to do anything but shred you for muffins in December.” Thank you!

  86. Quynh

    I just put this together so I can throw it in the oven after work tomorrow and I’m so so excited to try it. I stole a taste and I love the combo of the bechamel (which was delicious on its own), the herbs, the citrus, and the cheese. It’s going to be fantastic :)

  87. Rachel G

    I used what I had on hand (no parsley – mix of thyme, lemon basil, oregano and chives; no mozzarella so a mix of feta and provolone) and it was fantastic. I used 3 lbs of squash and 14 oz of pasta in a 13 x 9 pan. It was fantastic. Next time will use way more vegetables and a bigger pan (so more delicious crunchy bits). I think it could easily take tomatoes (sautéed to drive out some of the moisture), peppers, broccoli, peas, even green beans. I hope your delivery is uncomplicated and Apgars of 10.

  88. Kat

    I made this recipe last night along with your blueberry crumb cake, and both came out delicious. For the herbs in the pasta dish, I used oregano, thyme, and rosemary, and I added mushrooms. It was really fantastic, one of the best recipes I’ve ever used and it’s basic enough for tweaks to be made to personalize it. The depth of flavor is really robust. For my husband, dinner isn’t dinner without meat, and I was just too hot to stay in the kitchen to stir fry some chicken (although I think it would have tasted good in or next to the pasta) but he didn’t miss the meat at all. This would be a great dinner party dish-a little goes a long way.

  89. Claire

    This sounds delicious! It reminds me of one of my favorite noodle places that does American, Asian, and Italian style noodle dishes. One that they do on their “American” menu is called “buttery noodles” and is literally just egg noodles, butter, a splash of cream, some parsley and some parmesan. I always add zucchini and yellow squash to mine and it’s great! This sounds like an awesome casserole version. I bet I could even use egg noodles.

  90. Maureen

    so delicious! i made this tonight and it was even a hit with the kids! i used fresh oregano, basil, and thyme (because i believe thyme makes everything better!) next time i think i might add a bit more lemon overall, perhaps because i used light cream in the sauce instead of milk because that is what we had on hand. i also agree with the other commenters who think this could be adapted to include other veggies, perhaps even in the winter with some roasted root veggies. this is certainly going in our family meal rotation.

  91. KatieK

    I agree, it took a lot of prep time. I would have added more zucchini. It was very good but I’m not certain worth the time. Also I was hoping for left overs but my sons loved it and took huge helping.

  92. Paula

    Excellent recipe. I made it today. I realized mid-prep that I didn’t have any scallions, so I just used half of a small onion, very finely chopped. I also sprinkled with some Pablo. Next time I think I’ll add some more veggies. Carrot slices, peas, maybe asparagus or cauliflower. And maybe some smoked chicken.

  93. Eating leftovers now for lunch. Delicious! I agree with some other commenters that this takes a bit of work, but I doubled and froze half and feel good about my accomplishment. I did a mix of squash, carrots and peas and added chicken, but did everything else as written. I will maybe do another 1/4 to 1/2 pound of veggies next time, but this is a keeper. Thanks!

  94. happy congratulations on the arrival of your littlest one!

    made this tonight subbing coconut milk & low sodium chicken broth for the whole milk in the creamy sauce & it was ‘ono.

    just mentioning in case their are any mamas cooking for littles with a milk protein intolerance. mine finally seems to be able to tolerate baked cheese & this recipe scored a yummy yummy delicious. :-)

    mahalo deb!

  95. Bryce

    I just made this and it is ABSOLUTELY delicious, as all of your recipes are. Every recipe is always a home run. THANK YOU!!!

  96. Jan

    I made this based on what I had on hand – and it was DELICIOUS! Used whole wheat rotini, sliced the zucchini thicker – because I like the texture, used 1/2 diced Vidalia onion cooked with the zucchini instead of scallion, and provolone instead of mozzarella. The unique taste, to me, was the red pepper flakes and mint combination! Truly delightful! Thanks for another winner!!!!

  97. Laura Green

    Not pregnant, but looking for recipes for my CSA squash, and I just put this together and put it in the fridge–will report back after it’s baked and eaten! I find myself on your site often and enjoy your recipes very much.

  98. Deb,

    I just put this in the oven, oh my goodness, you don’t even need to bake it to taste the deliciousness. I expanded your portions, I have a 16 year old football player to feed. So much surplus zucchini in my garden and herbs overflowing, what a perfect dish. What’s extra great is everyone is outside weeding for me, I said no weeding no dinner!

  99. Kristen J

    Thank you for sharing this recipe, Deb! I made it for the second time this weekend, and it was just as fabulous as the first time around. Such a nice, hearty dish to share with family & friends, and the squash & zucchini make it also feel summery and fresh at the same time.

  100. Carey

    I have all the ingredients and am excited to try this but I’m intimidated by the zucchini cooking instructions. How precisely do we need to follow these? My biggest pan won’t fit all the squash In a single layer. Do I need to cook in batches? Or can I just fling it all in the super hot pan and cook and stir around until brown? Thanks in advance. And you are awesome. : )

  101. deb

    Carey — You can do it that way, too. I find that zucchini can saute up kind of limp and bland and wanted to write (and make) it in a way that would encourage the most interest — good and browned, with some texture and nuance. That’s why the description is so detailed. This doesn’t mean the dish wouldn’t work with other cooking techniques, maybe less persnickety.

  102. Carey

    Oh my goodness that was delicious!! And I’m not even much of a lemon person in savory dishes, but the balance of flavors was amazing. I ended up trying to follow zucchini instructions (though I had to move them before 10 min) and all was great. Thank you!!

  103. RayAnne

    My sister has a garden so I made this at her place last night with fresh squash along with your new peach cobbler recipe. I couldn’t get the roux to work right so the cheese was sort of blobby…. no worries, I stuck it in the oven and started on the peach cobbler. It wasn’t until I couldn’t get the batter to fluff up that I finally realized I had used powdered sugar instead of flour… in both recipes. Whoops! I was able to just double the recipe for the batter. Somehow the pasta still turned out fine too… sweet… but still yummy.

  104. Caroline

    I made this for dinner last night and we ate every last bite! It was full of all of the bright flavors I associate with summer – I cannot wait to make this again!

  105. Susan

    Made this for dinner tonight. I used Mint, Basil, and Parsley because that’s what i had on hand; and dried mince onion because I didn’t have time to run to multiple stores. OMG, completely delicious! I will make this again and again :D

  106. Jennifer

    I looked through the comments, but didn’t see this question posed. I know it would be much better with full-fat milk, but I was wondering if anyone tried it with almond milk? I know it won’t be as good, but will it still be pretty yummy? Does almond milk not make a roux? Thanks!

  107. Joan

    I was ready to throw out (gasp) the huge pile of patty pan squash still left from our 1 prolific plant when I saw this recipe. This solves my dilemma and for sure makes me a better person, right?! Thanks so much, it looks terrific.

  108. Amy

    I made this last night for dinner with oregano, thyme and parsley – it is so good!! Jennifer – I’ve made plenty of rouxs with almond milk, it works great! It won’t have the same flavor as one made with regular milk, but it makes a good sauce.

  109. Hope

    Love love love this recipe. The herb and lemon zest combo is fantastic. Have made this several times now, sometimes using chicken instead of pasta, for my GF friends.

    I want to experiment with adding the cheese straight into the sauce and baking for a shorter time. The cheese gets a little rubbery from being baked so long. Wondering if anyone has tried this?

  110. Joli

    It’s not quite summer anymore but we still had a lot of zucchini. Made this for dinner and it was a huge hit! It will definitely be added to our regular rotation of meals. My girlfriend licked her bowl! It was a little time-consuming to make, but was absolutely delicious and since some of it can be frozen (if we don’t eat it all first) it’s worth it.

  111. Nell

    Hi Deb, I love your blog and just bought your cookbook. Wonderful! Made this dish several times in the summer, but have such a hankering for it now, but it’s December! Was wondering if there was another vegetable you’d recommend to replace the squash? Maybe cauliflower? Thanks.

  112. Made this for dinner tonight. I used Mint, Basil, and Parsley because that’s what i had on hand; and dried mince onion because I didn’t have time to run to multiple stores. OMG, completely delicious! I will make this again and again :D

  113. Nancy

    This dish is the reason I am watching my (9) squash plants with impatience. Almost there! Seasonal food is the best.

  114. Russell

    I made this and it was wonderful. A lot of prep yields a dish with great flavor, v. delicious and filling. And it used up all of the squash from my CSA. Thanks!

  115. Can I tell you just how much I adore this recipe? Anytime I have a surplus of summer squash, I make a double batch of this and stick it all in the freezer. It may be my very favorite squash recipe. Of all time.

  116. Jessica

    I took advantage of slightly cooler temps and made this tonight. Exactly as written, it was wonderful. Searing the summer squash added lots of flavor and the herby bechamel was delicious! I used thyme and parsley. Next time I’ll double it and freeze. Definitely a keeper!

  117. Athina

    I just made this. I love that I was able to use items from my garden (zucchini, parsley, thyme, mint, and oregano) and was also fortunate to have scallions on hand, (leftover from my zucchini feta cakes) but I had to substitute grand cru, and goat cheese for the mozzarella and parmigiano. That being said, It seemed like A LOT of work for what I would call a mediocre casserole. Perhaps my substitutions impacted the flavor- but I was underwhelmed, considering the amount of prep, and work this involved. I’m hoping maybe the flavors will meld a bit more, and that this may make a delicious leftover. Thank you for all the delicious recipes you share!!

  118. Gabs

    I made this after you reposted on Instagram/Facebook this week. Have to disagree with the person above- I thought this was minimal prep for a wonderful dinner. It’s leftovers again tonight. I ended up using the last bits of herbs I’ve managed not to kill in my garden- I though basil, mint, thyme, and rosemary might be a weird combo, but it tasted light and fresh. It’s like a whole new mac and cheese that makes me feel healthy(ish).

  119. Gabrielle

    So for some reason I decided I had to make this tonight, for lunch tomorrow and started at like 10:30pm after working all day and taking a 7:30pm kickboxing class. So glad I did. Had some when it was finished. DELICIOUS! Mad it with the mint as part of my herb blend it it was just lovely. Thank you for this and all your recipes. I saw you years ago when you spoke at the Apple Store in Manhattan because my sister in law followed your recipes, I have too ever since.

  120. I made this for the fourth time last night (I know I’m not the only one drowning in zucchini), and it was delicious once again. I can’t seem to mess this up–I’ve done it with three kinds of pasta, in two different pans, and only once out of the four times did I have mozzarella, so there’s been improvisation in the cheese department too. It works with absolutely whatever herbs you have at your disposal, and if you accidentally leave it in the oven just a smidge longer than you meant to (guilty) there’s plenty of wiggle room while a crunchy cheese crust develops. I’m absolutely devoted (could you tell?).

  121. This is so good! I only used a cup of milk instead of the cup and a half and I’m regretting it – it’s just a *touch* dry. And yes, it’s time consuming and there’s a few different steps (took me a little under two hours, start to finish). But it’s so worth it! The lemon plays off the zucchini and parmesan so nicely. Thanks, Deb!

    Note: I made this with gluten free pasta and gluten free flour (Trader Joe’s blend), and it’s great.

    1. Shannon

      Sorry I’m 4 years late to this delicious meal game, but I bought some wonderful summer squash at the Farmer’s Market and knew Deb would have a recipe.
      Thanks you KB1VWJ for giving me guidance in making this gluten free.
      I used GF pasta, 2 T cornstarch to thicken, and added some broccoli to the squash. My herb was just dill as I had some leftover from canning pickles. The little pockets of mozzarella are a pleasant surprise. This was a very light and fresh dish even though it had whole milk. Thank you Deb for a great recipe.

  122. Sarah

    Hi Deb – if I make this the day before it needs to be served and keep it in the fridge, at what temperature should I cook it the next day, and for how long? (to compensate for it having been in the fridge)

    Also, some of your other recipes include nutmeg in the béchamel sauce, what do you think about adding nutmeg to this sauce? And if so, how much?


  123. Katy Belle

    This was so good!!! I didn’t have Parmesean, still great without it! Will make a double batch next time, one for the freezer. My teen boys scraped the pan clean!

  124. Kathy Cronk

    Wonderful. Will definitely make this again. A real hit. This time of year always looking for something to do with the excess of zucchini that is coming out of the garden. This is a keeper. Not vegetarian but would recommend this for meatless Monday’s. So good.

  125. The Whistling Beagle

    Wow, this is so good. The hit of lemon is perfect. Now I am eyeballing the little bags of sliced fresh Brussel sprouts in the produce market, and thinking “Why not?” Maybe with fontina instead of mozzarella, and a sprinkling of toasted nuts?

  126. Jane

    It’s in the oven right now! We sort-of-kind-of doubled the recipe (yay eyeball measurements!), and used lemon thyme and rosemary from our herb garden. Since we are growing winter squash, I also threw in a bunch of squash blossoms (uncooked, just tucked into the pasta mixture before baking). My husband made the bechamel – and loved it so much that he scraped the pan after we finished assembling the dishes. I think this is a keeper :)

  127. Lo

    This is absolutely amazing. I made it last night for the first time and the recipe is a keeper. My husband said to hold on to this one. Thanks for another winner – your recipes never disappoint!

  128. Alyssa Porter

    Hi! I love making this dish and am tripleing this recipe in a large foil pan to take to my moms surprise birthday party. I am going to freeze it after I cook it and take it with me as the party is a few hours away. Can you give me reheating instructions for this thicker bake? Temperature, timing, covered or uncovered, etc.

  129. abbyback

    Made this last night. For the herbs, I used half dill and basil (plus the scallions called for and a little more parsley than called for). Super delicious and definitely a keeper. Looking forward to going back to the stash in the freezer when I don’t feel like cooking. Thanks Deb!

  130. kassieec

    So yummy! The zucchini have been so insanely good this summer, I knew I had to find recipes that incorporated them. This one did the trick. Didn’t have parm or mozzarella (the former was past its prime and I completely forgot to pick up the latter at the store), but I shredded a block of cheddar (the only cheese I had on hand) and surprise surprise! It worked out. Had this dish as a side to tri-tip steak. I couldn’t stop nibbling on the leftovers as I did dishes & tidy the kitchen. Two thumbs up!

  131. Glenna

    I didn’t see any comments regarding this. Can I substitute the milk for almond milk and leave out the Parmesan? I can’t have dairy products. Thx

  132. Dean

    This recipe was a great jumping off point for using extra items from the CSA.
    Nearly doubled the amount of squash as what I had cooked down too much. Added about a cup of diced garlic scapes to the squash instead of regular garlic. Did this so the sometimes tough scapes would soften. I had leftover Comte cheese and substituted that for the Parmesan and Mozzarella. The basic procedure of baking a mix of cooked veggies, pasta and a bechamel worked out great. The recommendation of adding fresh herbs and lemon zest made this dish a great combination of being both filling and light at once.

  133. Gail

    Thank you for the joy of discovering new, delicious food ideas! I was getting bored. Now I am making wonderful, exciting, new dishes. :)

  134. Ivy

    I had this at one of the Google cafeteria. I’m pretty sure they used your recipe (stole the name too). It’s so good that I just need to google it :)

  135. Kath

    Made this tonight and followed the recipe closely. I found it was a little longer to make than I would have liked but it was truly delicious! My preschooler loved it too. I will definitely make again, but would up the zucchini/summer squash as I would have liked more veg. I wasn’t able to get the zucchini to brown, but I suspect I just had too much in the pan as I did a double batch, so it steamed too much. I may have been a little under on the herbs and green onions as I thought it would be overpowering, but I would also add more next time.

  136. Made this for dinner tonight, and was promptly chastised – “I ate too much, you shouldn’t have let me have a second bowl, but it was just so good”. You can take that as a good review!

    I used basil, mint and tarragon as my herbs, which paired well with the parsley and scallions. I always feel tarragon and lemon have a nice affinity. Went light on the mint based on previous reviews. Added an ear of fresh summer corn, just because I had some to use up, and it added a nice touch of extra sweetness.

    When I make a recipe that calls for multiple fresh herbs, I always regret not growing my own. Each little package is $2.99 in my neck of the woods, so I decided to triple the bechamel portion of the recipe to use more of them up. I was able to freeze two extra portions of sauce to make into future baked pasta dishes. The added benefit is that preparing the sauce is really the time consuming part of the recipe. I didn’t have room in the freezer to house two additional casseroles, but I did have room for two containers of that yummy herby, garlicky, lemony bechamel. Thanks for a great vegetarian dinner option. We’re trying to be meatless 4-5 days a week these days.

  137. Eliza

    Perfect dinner inspiration for tonight, thanks a million. I’m pregnant and really not much into food right now, this was great. I added mushies and roasted cauliflower because it’s the end of the (shopping) week and I wanted to clear the crisper, was so delicious with lemon, thyme and parsley. Thank you so much!

  138. Ann-Marie

    I made this for dinner tonight and it was a huge hit with the whole family, 2 and 7 year old included. Glad I doubled the recipe and put half in the freezer for another time. My trio of herbs (oregano, thyme and sage) came straight from the garden (as did the zucchini and lemon). Next time I may even add some artichokes. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

  139. Susan

    I’m headed to a potluck tonight.
    Have a garden too full of veggies. This looks like a winner!
    I’m adding nitrate-free bacon and kale.
    Bacon for the guys, kale for the green and because I have too much growing.
    Out to collect my dinner. Thanks.

  140. Justine

    I’d like to make this for a party I’m having this weekend. If I’d like to make it two days before, would you recommend doing everything then freezing it? Or perhaps should I assemble, keep refrigerated then cook for the first time the day of the party?

    1. Erin

      Do you recommend trying to get the moisture out of the squash first? The whole slice-salt-sit-drain routine like in other recipes?

  141. Brittany

    My family absolutely loves this, I add a pound of cooked, crumbled sausage to stretch it so we have leftovers for lunches! This is one of those dishes where you sneak enough tastes before it goes into the oven that you’re almost too full for dinner. Almost.

  142. Rachel

    This was delicious! For the herbs, I used thyme, oregano, and rosemary. All the chopping required for the prep did take a good bit of time, but it was worth it in the end! Also, right after I put the dish in the oven, I realized that I had forgotten to pour the lemon juice over the squash, so I took it out, scraped the pasta back into a bowl, mixed in the lemon juice, and returned it to the pan. It turned out just fine, though I missed out on that crispy parmesan topping, as it got mixed into the pasta when I added the lemon juice. No worries, though, because I will definitely be making this again! Thanks for another great recipe.

  143. Barbara

    I made this for the second time and OMG is it delicious! The lemon zest adds such a lovely zing to it! I’m only sad that I didn’t listen to you and double the batch to freeze! Lesson learned-Queen Deb is always right! See you in Pasadena!

  144. Lois

    I made this last night, exactly as written except that I only had about half the amount of mozz called for. It was still plenty gooey. We all enjoyed it, and I plan to have the leftovers for lunch with some spinach mixed in. It did take a bit longer than I expected to put together, but on the plus side, I made it early in the day and stuck it unbaked in the fridge. By the time my company arrived everything was cleaned up and I just had to put the skillet in the oven.

  145. Jessie

    Omg, Deb. Made this tonight with some thyme, oregano, mint and sage. A revelation. Wish I had more parsley, but at war with some bunnies in the yard (they’re winning). Can’t wait to make it again. I may quadruple it and give to friends with babies this summer as a freezer meal. Thank you!!

  146. Christine

    This was delicious. Now that I’ve made it, here are my comments: (1) Much of prep can be done ahead. I did everything, up to cooking pasta & baking casserole, 3 days ahead, &, on day of serving, reheated the sauce, before continuing with recipe. (2) Rechecked online recipe photos, & found that DP does not really brown her squash, just sautés it. I browned mine, & they were good, but more work than just sautéing. (3) My sauce was too thick, as my medium heat was probably too high. Next time, I will adjust heat accordingly to keep sauce thinner. Luckily, adding more milk fixed the problem. (4) Next time, will add more squash, & maybe some cherry tomatoes.

  147. Michelle

    Oh. My. Goodness. This was so good! I doubled it, and wrapped half up to freeze, but I think i’m just going to put it in the fridge, so we can have it again tomorrow night. Didn’t change a thing, and it was perfect. My husband and son both had two servings.

  148. Katie C.

    I’m swimming in squash from my garden so I made this tonight as a side for leftover pork chops. People weren’t kidding when they said that it takes at least two hours to make. I started early thinking that I just could slide it in the oven later, but it went in and came out immediately for dinner. Very good. I used more than one pound of squash since I didn’t want leftover partial squash in the fridge. I have enough whole ones as it is! I used small shells because that’s what was in the cabinet. I used fresh thyme and oregano from my garden.

    Tastes great to me!

  149. Amy

    I’ve made this a few times and it is indeed delicious. I doubled it this time and again, delicious, but I almost found it to be TOO cheesy! I know, not a common complaint but next time I think if I double it I won’t double the cheese. I also skipped the fresh herbs and it still has so much good fresh flavor with the lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, and all those green onions that we barely missed them. Smitten fan for life! Try her zucchini carpaccio for a really nice new way to use your zucchini!

  150. Susan

    I love it when you put a recipe in the newsletter that I’ve taken out of the oven 12 hours earlier – makes me feel like my life is on the right track, lol. I made a double recipe last night and other than the fact that I forgot to put in the lemon zest and DEFINITELY should have used a bigger pan (stirring everything was a struggle), it turned out great. I think next time I’ll prep the sauce and squash the night before and do the pasta/assembly the day of, because this was a lot of standing over a hot stove for one summer evening, but it was really delicious and a great way to use up a caveman-club-size zucchini that I got for 75 cents at the farmer’s market.

  151. Sarah

    My husband and I both LOVED this. After my second bite, I said, “This is good enough to serve when we have people over” (my highest compliment to a new recipe). And he gave it his highest compliment, which is asking for seconds. I even forgot to throw in the lemon zest as instructed and just sprinkled it on the top after it came out of the oven; it still did its job and lent that brightness to the dish. Thank you for a delicious evening!

  152. KatieK

    I made this last night for the second time; my white sauce (béchamel) sauce was too thick and had to add more milk. While it is tasty and creamy with cheese, I’m not certain it is worth the effort. I’ve made white sauce for years and this is the most labor intensive of any recipe. I used a mixture of sage and oregano; if I did it again, I would increase the amount of herbs.

  153. Lucy D

    Wowza, delicious! I mostly followed the recipe with the following changes: I used about 4 oz pasta, because I wanted to finish off a partial box of medium shells, and also, I prefer more veggie to pasta ratio, generally (and I might have been a little over a pound on the squash); I used the stated amount of parm but had no mozz so I tossed in some shredded mild cheddar, Gouda, and fontinella (what I had remnants of in the cheese drawer); I added a couple of handfuls of fresh peas from the farmers market. From my herb garden I used thyme, oregano, parsley, and a smaller amount of rosemary and basil for the T of herbs. My milk was 2.5%, which is what I had on hand. The squash didn’t brown, but it was still delicious! The whole dish is a keeper! The peas added a nice bit of color and flavor. I might have shorted myself on the lemon zest and will plan better next time. Also, I used 3 large scallions, but the dark green tops had already been cut back a bit. I would used 5 scallions next time, even if large. Thank you, Deb, for another great recipe. My cooking and baking habits vary over time and I am now back to seeking solace and joy in playing with food, anew, and am delighted to be enjoying all that you share with us!

    1. Lucy D

      I am back to add that on day two, this delicious casserole has becom its best possible self, irresistibly delicious….based on my second tasting, I wouldn’t change a thing from my initial effort…..outstanding, and I woke up again today thinking about eating it….is it lunchtime yet? Can I have some for breakfast? It’s that good!

  154. Sarah M

    I went away for a week at the start of August, and came home to over 15lb of zucchini in the garden. Over the last two days, I made a double batch of this and a triple batch of your zucchini rice gratin, all for the freezer. I loved them both, but my partner loooooooved this one so much. I have a feeling I’ll be stashing a few more of these in the freezer before summer ends. We just had the burst tomato galette for dinner, heavy on the zucchini. Your new bread recipe is up next. Future me thanks you for all these freezer-friendly zucchini meals!

  155. Corrie- Onagoodday

    I have been coming to your blog since before you even had any kids. Congrats to you! I think it might be time to move to a bigger kitchen? Just saying..

  156. AshleyJ

    A Fall 2019 update to say I found this pasta shape at Trader Joe’s. Called “Fall Zucchette Pasta,” it’s made with butternut squash. Looking forward to trying it in the recipe!

  157. Emma

    Your recipes make me feel so competent! I follow the instructions and I end up with something delicious. I love the brightness of the lemon and red pepper flakes. I am so grateful to you for making cooking accessible!

  158. Jennifer

    I recently discovered this recipe and have made it 4 times I think. It is absolutely delicious and always gone within 24 hours. I added sauteed onions to the mix which works great as well. LOVE this delicious squash bake.

  159. Jessica

    Wow, this was fantastic! I saw this on Instagram and two magical things happened: 1., I had everything on hand, which NEVER happens to me, and 2., it used up several languishing ingredients that were getting toward use-it-or-lose-it territory, namely the remnants of a huge bag of Costco zucchini, an old lemon, some sad scallions, and milk one day out of date (but it still smelled/tasted fine!). Maybe that’s only magical to me, but I love using things up. I’m here to tell you it was a creamy, lemony, herby delight even with ingredients that weren’t ideal. It does take some time to make, but the results were worth it. Also I used a big bunch of basil for the herb component and I highly recommend.

  160. Melissa

    This was amazing and very versatile. We used shells, less zucchini and added fresh spinach to the pasta. We didn’t have fresh parm but used bits gruyere and sharp white cheddar that were getting sad in the drawer. The herby, lemony sauce is a casserole game changer for a fresh taste. Everyone had seconds. Wonderful wonderful recipe.

  161. Jennifer Casarella

    I made this tonight. I didn’t have enough squash, so sauteed some left over cabbage, and as it’s summer added a chopped tomato from the garden. Otherwise as written and loved by all! I might add some more tomato next time. It was delicious!

  162. Rebekah

    This was SO GOOD! I didn’t have mozzarella so subbed goat cheese, and added green peas also. My husband didn’t even reach for the hot sauce-and that’s saying something! Made extra and froze a smaller one. Such a tasty use for all the summer squash coming our way.

  163. Lauren

    SO good. I made it for a friend as a freezer meal and it was hard to give it away. I accidentally added all the scallions (dark green parts too) with the garlic, and it was still great. Don’t leave out the fresh herbs — thyme helped bring out the lemon zest, IMO.

  164. Rebecca

    Love this! Every time a friend has a baby, I make a freezer meal, but almost all of my friends have had their babies in summer (the nerve). A lot of freezer meals aren’t very warm-weather friendly, but this is light enough to work for July. Just made this for a friend last week. I made extra and made one for myself too.

  165. We had this tonight. It was fantastic! Thank you for posting such delicious recipes. My husband asks, “is this another one from Smitten Kitchen?”
    My daughters also love your recipes. They are reliably good!

  166. Robin

    My daughter said this was the best pasta she has ever had(18yo) and asked that I make it again tonight so she could invite her best friend over for dinner. Also, I recently made the braised chickpeas, so good!! Had the leftovers with a poach egg on top. Thank you for your amazing recipes.

  167. Allison

    This has been the best dish I’ve made with summer squash. I used 1% milk and it turned out great. I also substituted dried herbs for fresh. Will be making again (and again)!

  168. Deborah+N+Flanagan

    I made this and it was given great reviews by family and guests. I served it first with grilled porcini-crusted fillets and then the little bit of leftover with grilled salmon. A really nice way to use up summer squash. Next time I will try to do the entire recipe using one pan.

  169. Candace

    This was delicious! I used dried thyme + oregano + aleppo pepper, as well as the zest of a whole, large lemon. I see this heading into fall with mushrooms, regular onions, and shaved cabbage. Thanks for a keeper!

  170. Linda Stovall

    I had some friends over for my hubby’s birthday and made this as a side dish!! It was delicious and everyone raved about it!! It takes some time for all the chopping, but totally worth it!! I made it ahead of time, put in the fridge and bakes when it was time for dinner! Perfect! Will make again.

  171. Avra

    I agree to rewarming at lowish heads. The oven rack that is level with the low head of my toddler is the perfect rewarming spot.

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist having fun with that typo!)

    This was delicious. I skipped the extra 1/4 cup of parm and it was plenty cheesy. I subbed 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract for the zest and 1/2 an onion for the scallions. I also used (gasp) dried herbs (1 T parsley and scant 1 t oregano) because I refuse to deal with fresh herbs. :) I loved this dish!

  172. Elke

    We made this tonight and really enjoyed it. It was a bit of work, but I think it pays off. So now we have a summer “cousin” for the winter squash pasta bake!

  173. Super delicious Five Star Dish *****!! I will double the amount of yellow squash, it got reduced a great deal after cooked. I was a little skeptical of using mint, but O.M.G.! what a delicious herbal combination along with the lemon zest and juice. The sauce has a perfect summer taste and what a great move from the traditional past sauces. Because we are trying to reduce our intake of dairy, I used plant based mozzarella and for the sauce I used 1/2 milk and 1/2 vegetable broth and it was fantastic! Our family loved it. Definitely double the recipe. It was a little more work that I expected, you might as well have some left-overs!

  174. Libby

    I made this a few years ago and remember thinking it was pretty good but a little complex for a weeknight. Tried again this week and two adults devoured the entire pan in one night, and we both loved it so much that I made it again three days later. It does take awhile (I haven’t done it less than 90 minutes) but it’s so much more than the sum of its parts.

    I added spinach with the zucchini and sausage for extra protein — once precooked chicken (added with the cheese at the end, very good) and once Italian turkey (better, browned before making the bechamel).

    On track to be a true family favorite.

  175. Maren

    Just ate our last frozen batch of this (from last year – too long in the freezer? Was still amazing). Now with a surplus of zucchini on my kitchen counter I am embarking on making a 4x batch of this, to be savored on the cold and dark winter nights in a few months. I put it in a throw-away metal serving dish, allow it to chill, then stick it in a vacuum-sealed bag to prevent freezer burn. So easy to just take it out of the bag and throw it in the oven. Added Italian sausage for a little extra stick-to-your-bones-ness. Adore this dish. Thank you for another beautiful recipe.

    1. Lindsay

      It’s in the next to last sentence of the Prepare Squash paragraph. After browning. This dish is delicious! Good luck!

  176. Rebecca Hart

    Oh man – this is a winner. I can’t imagine it without the mint btw. And the lemon makes it happen. Love that there isn’t a lot more pasta than squash. Love the fresh herbs. Love. It definitely involves some hot stove time but it tastes so summery !