This summer tomato pasta with sausage and zucchini is a simple, delicious way to enjoy summer produce this season.
July is peak tomato season, and I use plenty of fresh tomatoes this time of year. Grating tomatoes is one of the BEST ways to use up those over-ripe tomatoes. I love it because it’s no mess; you don’t have to dice them or blanch them, and you won’t have skins in your sauces.
You just grate on the large holes of a box grater, and you can whizz through a bunch of tomatoes in record time. You want to use juicy, super-ripe tomatoes, so avoid Roma tomatoes as they are too dry and firm.
I use this process for homemade salsa because I don’t love chopping up tomatoes, so grating is a super easy way to prep them.
Just be mindful that there’s a lot of water in the grated tomatoes, so you want to cook it off. I don’t like straining them because I like cooking down the liquid; I think it makes a more flavorful sauce.
Here’s how you prep them:
- Step 1: Break out your box grater and a large bowl.
- Step 2: Slice off a thin slice from the bottom of the tomato.
- Step 3: Grate along the large holes of the box grater.
- Step 4: Discard the skins, and you’re ready to cook!
How to make this summer tomato pasta recipe:
This recipe is easy and so perfect for a quick weeknight meal. Here’s what you do:
- Step 1: Prep the tomatoes and set them aside.
- Step 2: Brown the sausage and transfer it to a paper towel-lined plate. You can also use ground beef or chicken for this.
- Step 3: Sauté the aromatics starting with the onion. Add in the garlic and diced zucchini and fry them up briefly.
- Step 4: Return the sausage to the pot, add the tomatoes, and simmer for 20–30 minutes. You want all the tomato juice to cook off. The sauce will be nice and thick.
- Step 5: Boil your pasta. Make sure you reserve a little pasta cooking water!
- Step 6: Finish it up! Add the spinach, lemon juice, and cooked pasta. Toss to coat and add some Parmesan cheese and the pasta water if needed. Continue tossing until the pasta is well-coated with the sauce.
I love this pasta recipe because you can add all sorts of veggies to it; try it with mushrooms or yellow squash instead!
Summer Tomato Pasta with Sausage and Zucchini
- Large pot
- 1½ pounds large, ripe tomatoes (or use 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes)
- 1 pound hot Italian sausage
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 small zucchini, trimmed and diced
- Crushed red pepper to taste
- Pinch of sugar optional
- 16 ounces rigatoni
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ½ cup Parmesan, finely grated; a pinch reserved for garnish
- Salt and pepper
Prep the tomatoes:
- Cut off a very thin slice from the bottom of the tomatoes.
- Grate the tomatoes into a large bowl using the large holes of a box grater. Discard the skins.
Cook the sausage:
- Heat a wide pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the sausage and cook, breaking it up periodically, for 12–15 minutes until cooked through. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and drain off all but a teaspoon of the oil in the pot.
Prepare the sauce:
- Melt the butter into the pot and add the onion. Cook for 5–7 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and zucchini and fry for 1–2 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of crushed red pepper to taste.
- Return the sausage to the pot and pour in the grated tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20–30 minutes or until the sauce is thick. Stir the sauce occasionally to prevent it from sticking. The grated tomatoes make quite a bit of excess water, so you want to cook it all off! Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Boil the pasta:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add a generous amount of salt and the rigatoni. Cook until 1-2 minutes under al dente. Scoop out 1/2 cup pasta water and drain the pasta.
Finish the pasta:
- Taste the sauce and season once more. Add the baby spinach, lemon juice, and cooked pasta. Toss to coat for 2–3 minutes until the spinach is wilted. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and toss to coat for 1 minute more. Add pasta water if needed to loosen up the sauce and coat the pasta. Turn off the heat.
- Divide the pasta between shallow bowls. Sprinkle more Parmesan on each plate. Enjoy!