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I’m not much for food fads, but for zucchini noodles (zoodles) I’ve gladly made an exception. I love that I can swap them in to my favorite pasta recipes (like Cacio e Pepe!) when I want to lighten them up and for Zucchini Salad, a summertime favorite. And now that I think about it, I should try it with Pasta Aglio e Olio, and Lemon Garlic Pasta too!

I’ve found that I prefer to combine them with actual pasta. (Unlike the Gnudi I love which is basically ravioli sans pasta altogether!) So if a recipe calls for 12 ounces of pasta, I’ll use 6 ounces and 3 or 4 zucchini. The zucchini noodles add heft and body, kind of like TVP but less mysterious.

In Italian, ‘Cacio e Pepe’ means simply “cheese and pepper.” So really I should call this Cacio e Pepe e Burro (cheese and pepper and butter), because butter makes everything better.

Zucchini Noodle Cacio e Pepe prep

Cacio e Pepe is one of those dishes that looks fancy enough for company, but is easy enough to make on a busy weekday evening.

Bucatini and Zucchini Noodle Cacio e Pepe

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Calories: 407
Servings: 4 people
I like to use a combination of pasta and zucchini noodles, but you could easily make this with either one on its own.


  • 8 ounces bucatini pasta
  • 4 medium zucchini thinly sliced into ribbons with mandoline, peeler or spiralizer
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces Pecorino cheese finely grated plus more for topping
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley


  • Cook bucatini according to package directions until about 3 minutes before tender. Add zucchini noodles, cook 3 minutes more. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.
  • Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add pepper; cook and stir about 1 minute.
  • Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water; bring to simmer. Add pasta and zucchini noodles, tossing to coat. Reduce heat to low and add cheese, stirring vigorously until cheese melts and pasta is coated (add more of the cooking liquid if pasta seems dry).
  • Divide between 4 bowls; sprinkle each with parsley and more cheese if desired. Serve.


Calories: 407kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Sodium: 412mg | Potassium: 698mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1109IU | Vitamin C: 42mg | Calcium: 356mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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  1. Helen @ Scrummy Lane says:

    Hahaha… I love the Far Side cartoon, Marissa. Absolutely hilarious!

    I remember your tip to mix real pasta with spiralized veggies – such a great idea!

    I also share your love for simple Mediterranean recipes. You just can’t beat them. Never tried to make cacio e pepe, but I’ve seen it around lately – it’s a sign! 🙂

    1. Marissa says:

      Isn’t if funny? There have been some great Far Sides over the years. 🙂

      Yes, it’s a sign. You’ll love it, Helen! 🙂

  2. Whitney says:

    This sounds amazing! Especially attractive because our summer garden tends to explode with zucchini. I’m new to spiralizing/zoodles; would yellow squash work just as wel if that was the one I had? Or a mixture, of course.

    Found you through Instagram and have LOVED my perusing your blog this am. Cheers!

    1. Marissa says:

      Thanks, Whitney! I’m jealous of your ‘exploding garden’ – in the high desert, we’re lucky to eek out a handful of zucchini from our garden. 🙂

  3. Sonali- The Foodie Physician says:

    Ahhh…one of my favorite pasta dishes! And your addition of zoodles is wonderful- such a beautiful recipe, so light and fresh 🙂

    1. Marissa says:

      Thanks so much, Sonali!

  4. Sabrina says:

    I always wanted to make some kind of cacio e pepe pasta, and really love how you add zoodles and parsley. Great addition of flavor and color!

    1. Marissa says:

      Thanks, Sabrina. Give it a try – so good and super fast.

  5. Faith (An Edible Mosaic) says:

    I love that you use a mix of pasta and zoodles! I have to admit, the only reason I haven’t (successfully) made zoodles yet is because I can’t get my darn spiralizer to work properly, lol! I need to get on that though (or get a new one) because this looks too yummy to pass up. xoxo

    1. Marissa says:

      Oh no…the one I use works great, but it’s quite a wrist workout! I see why people get the larger, free-standing spiralizers – I just hate to add another big contraption to my kitchen. 🙂