A bowl of summer squash spaghetti
a bowl of summer squash spaghetti

Several years ago I bought a Benriner turning slicer. It is a ridiculous (but fun) tool that sits in my cupboard 364 days a year. To justify hanging on to it, I pull it out every year, just once, at the start of zucchini season, when I set out to make one of my favorite spaghetti recipes, the very dish that inspired its purchase.

I had read about the turning slicer in Michael Chiarello’s Tra Vigne Cookbook, which extolled the tool for its ability to cut vegetables into long spirals, perfect for making cucumber salads or for preparing potatoes for the deep fryer or for turning out zucchini slices for this very spaghetti recipe. That sounded like fun, I thought, and I ran out to Fante’s to see for myself.

While the gadget works beautifully and while it, unlike some of my other slicers, poses no risk to my fingers, my experimentation has extended no further than this single recipe. Truthfully, I prefer the shape of the long thin wisps created by a mandoline.

While neither tool is required to prepare this pasta recipe, having one helps. The beauty of the dish lies in the delicateness of the zucchini and summer squash strands, which cook in the final minute of the assembly process while they’re being tossed with the just-boiled spaghetti.

The sauce for this pasta is simple: extra-virgin olive oil heated briefly with minced garlic, shallots, and crushed red pepper flakes. Lemon zest and lots of chopped basil and parsley add a touch of freshness. Grated Parmigiano Reggiano is a must.

I love this pasta. It’s simple and summery, and it always inspires me once again to unearth such a promising gadget. Maybe this summer will be different? Maybe we’ll take to feasting on whimsical cucumber nest salads and carrot and daikon radish slaws? Maybe we’ll grow accustomed to sliding our grilled steaks onto beds of crispy potatoes? It’s unlikely, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

benriner turning slicer
sliced zucchini
zucchini & summer squash

Love my Benriner mandoline:

benriner mandoline
adding the parsley & basil

Have a nice weekend.

graham & ella
A bowl of summer squash spaghetti
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Summer Squash Spaghetti

Summer Squash Spaghetti with Lemon and Herbs

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4.8 from 11 reviews

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Adapted from Michael Chiarello’s The Tra Vigne Cookbook


  • 1 1/2 to 2 lbs. zucchini or yellow squash
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced 
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon  crushed red pepper flakes or less if you are sensitive to heat
  • 1/2 lb. spaghetti or other long noodle
  • freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2  to 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped basil, optional


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Using a mandoline or turning slicer, cut the squash into long thin strips. Alternatively, cut the squash with a knife as thinly as you are able. Place the sliced squash in a colander in your sink.
  3. Place the olive oil, shallots, and garlic in a large skillet. Season with a pinch of salt. Turn the heat to high. As soon as you see the oil beginning to shimmer, give the shallots and garlic a stir, cover the lid, and turn the heat to low. Cook for roughly 10 minutes, or until the shallots and garlic are very soft.
  4. When the pasta water boils, add 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Boil the pasta till al dente, reserving at least 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid.
  5. Meanwhile, uncover the lid of the pan with the shallots and garlic. Add the crushed red pepper flakes and stir briefly.
  6. Drain the pasta over the colander containing the squash, then transfer the pasta and squash to the skillet. Add 1 cup of the pasta cooking liquid and stir to combine. Season with pepper. Add the Parmigiano. Toss. Taste. Season with kosher salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Remove from the heat and add the herbs and lemon zest. Toss again to combine. Taste. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian