This Italian eggplant and zucchini pasta recipe is not only easy, but it’s healthy and absolutely delicious! Like many eggplant recipes, zucchini is also a main ingredient. It is very common in Italian cooking to use these two vegetables together in pasta dishes.
This recipe is very simple and easy to follow, plus you’ll have dinner on the table in just about 30 minutes!
Although I love to use tortellini with this recipe, you can use any type of pasta. The recipe stays the same, but I do recommend changing how you cut the eggplant and zucchini depending on the size and thickness of the pasta shape you choose.
I’ll give some tips further down below.
Where this Eggplant and Zucchini Pasta Recipe Came From
To be honest, this is not a long-time family recipe I can boast about having while growing up. In fact, the first time I had pasta with these two vegetables was while visiting my husband’s family in Ohio while on vacation over 10 years ago.
No formal recipe was given as is typically the case, so over time I figured out the quantities we like in our home. I documented it for anyone like you who is interested in learning these types of Italian pasta recipes.
Although both my husband and I are Italian, we grew up with different influences in our Italian cuisine. His family roots are from Sicily; my side is from between Naples and Rome. I always enjoy new culinary experiences, and this is one of them that I’m so excited to share with you now!
This recipe is somewhat like a ratatouille recipe in that we sauté everything together and then serve it up. But in this case, we are keeping the ingredient list so simple, it might shock you. Let’s review it now.
Any variety will do. You only need one medium sized eggplant. I use American eggplant simply because it’s what is available in the grocery store. Trying to grow eggplant has always been a failure for me so I don’t bother anymore.
The best zucchini variety I’d recommend is Italian zucchini, which has a pale skin and a mild flavor. I’ve only ever known it as Italian zucchini but it’s very similar to a type called Palermo Zucchini that I ordered online at rareseeds.com. However, if you don’t have it, any kind will do such as the typical Black Beauty we generally see in the grocery stores.
For this eggplant, zucchini recipe, I use regular pasta sauce that already has Italian seasonings, like our homemade spaghetti sauce or for less herbs, a simple marinara sauce. You only need about 1 or 1 ½ cups of sauce. The herbs and flavors of the pasta sauce add to the dish giving it more depth than other eggplant pasta recipes that only incorporate fresh tomatoes.
We don’t go light on the garlic; you’ll want to have at least 3 cloves of garlic. We crush them, then roughly chop them up.
Fortunately, this particular zucchini and eggplant recipe is perfect for just about any type of pasta. I love using tortellini. Just be aware that thicker pasta shapes should have chunkier chopped veggies, while thin or long pasta such as angel hair or even spaghetti would use slices, not chunks. You’ll see this in my angel hair pasta salad recipe. .
This is just a recommendation; some people may prefer one type of cut over the other. Keep in mind, slices will cook down much faster.
If you have fresh basil, add in a handful of fresh leaves. If not, you can omit it. Basil is one of my favorite herbs, that goes with both eggplant and zucchini pasta dishes.
Freshly grated Romano cheese can be used for topping at the end when you serve the dish. Parmesan cheese will work just as well.
How to Make Pasta with Eggplant and Zucchini
Now that we know what ingredients are needed for this recipe, let’s step through the recipe. You can also watch my video which is at the bottom of the post in the detailed recipe card.Jump to Video
Decide on the type of pasta
The first thing to do is to decide what type of pasta you want to use. The reason this is important is because it will determine how big you cut up the zucchini and eggplant. For delicate pasta like angel hair or vermicelli, you wouldn’t want big chunks, but instead use sliced vegetables. Alternatively, for heavier, thicker pasta like ziti it makes sense to chop up the vegetables into larger pieces.
As you’ll see in my images, I decided to make tortellini and chose to use thick slices, although I could have chopped them as well.
Okay, here are the steps for making this recipe.
Cook the pasta
Start heating the water and cooking the pasta. The pasta will probably be done before the vegetables, so just drain it and set it aside. If you’re using a pasta that doesn’t take long to cook, just wait until you start the vegetables and boil the pasta while the vegetables are sauteing.
Sauté the vegetables
The next step is to cut the vegetables according to the right size – slices, chunks, thick or thin. Next, heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat and add in the vegetables. Turn the heat to medium low and cover.
Add the garlic and pasta sauce
Once the eggplant and zucchini begin to cook down after about 5 or 10 minutes, you’ll notice that they release some of their water content which is fine.
Add the crushed garlic at this point. Feel free to add a dash of water if the vegetables begin to stick to the pan. Sometimes this happens; we don’t want it to burn.
Let the garlic cook for about 3 minutes with the vegetables and oil, then add the pasta sauce. Give a good stir and let it heat up over medium heat.
Cook until the zucchini and eggplant are soft
Since it’s cooking in the pasta sauce, both the zucchini and eggplant will break down faster and may lose their shape. That’s okay. This should take about 20 minutes. We’re mixing everything together anyway and the flavors will intermingle nicely.
Add the basil and pasta and serve
At this point when the vegetables are cooked, the pasta is probably done as well. Just add the basil and pasta into the pan and mix the eggplant, zucchini, pasta, and sauce together.
Serve from the pan and top with some extra cheese when serving.
Pro Tips for this Eggplant Zucchini Recipe
Here are some tips I have, in case you have a few of these questions.
Can this be made in advance?
Yes, you can make this a day in advance. However due to the reheating of the eggplant and zucchini, they will become very soft and probably lose their shape. I would also recommend not preparing the pasta beforehand, but when you’re getting ready to serve it. If that’s not possible, then yes, cook the pasta with the rest of the recipe and just reheat it all together. It will still be delicious!
Can you freeze this for meal planning purposes?
Yes! You can freeze this for meal planning. Just as you’d freeze pasta shells or other pasta dishes. You can freeze the recipe with the pasta or just freeze the eggplant and zucchini mixture. Remember, it will cook down, but that’s okay. It will last up to 3 months in the freezer in an airtight container.
Is this an Italian recipe?
Yes, this is an authentic Italian eggplant zucchini recipe from our family and there are many ways to make this dish. I encourage you to modify it any way you like and make it your own version according to your preferences. Or use it as it is, and I’m sure you’ll be happy!
Do I have to use pasta sauce?
You can omit the pasta sauce and replace it with canned or fresh tomatoes. I have a similar recipe here that uses eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and pasta.
Do I have to use tortellini?
No, you don’t have to use tortellini; any pasta shape will work. I would not use ravioli though. Since this uses a pasta sauce, consider what type of pasta you enjoy the most. I like the tortellini pasta because I think the filled cheese and the small size of the pasta shape is perfect for this eggplant zucchini recipe.
Side Dish Ideas for Eggplant Zucchini Pasta
Here are some ideas for easy Italian side dishes that would go great with any eggplant and zucchini pasta recipe.
Italian stuffed mushrooms are a great way to get a third vegetable on the table that tastes amazing!
Wrapped asparagus with prosciutto is an elegant way to add a delightful side dish to this pasta recipe.
Cook up some Italian peppers, sausage and onion as a way to add some meat to the meal.
Similar Recipes with Eggplant and Zucchini
If you love recipes with eggplant and zucchini like this one, then you’ll most likely love these too.
Fried eggplant slices are a great way to use up eggplant. I even explain how you can reheat them after frying!
Want an easy vegetarian lasagna? Try baking this eggplant and mushroom lasagna.
Prefer your eggplant and zucchini with lots of fresh tomatoes? Try this recipe here.
Delicious and healthy doesn’t get any better than this!
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Pasta with Eggplant and Zucchini
- 1 eggplant chopped
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium zucchini chopped or sliced cut to size based on type of pasta used
- 1-1 1/2 cups pasta sauce (more or less to taste)
- 3 crushed or chopped garlic cloves
- 1/2 lb pasta About 1 1/2 cups of dried tortellini
- 1 handful fresh basil leaves About 6 basil leaves
- grated Romano cheese
- Heat water in a medium sauce pan to start cooking the pasta. If pasta is ready before the rest of the dish, then drain and set aside. Reserve some pasta water to prevent it from sticking all together in a clump.
- Meanwhile in a separate large frying pan heat olive oil over medium heat – one that has deep sides is best – you will need lots of room.
- Add in the chopped eggplant and zucchini. Don't worry about adding water, they will soon release their liquid and you'll have steam. Cover with a lid.
- After vegetables begin to cook down, add in the garlic and let it cook for 3 minutes. Stir.
- Add the pasta sauce and stir. Continue cooking the vegetables until heated through and a fork can easily pierce the eggplant.
- After about 20 minutes or so, add in the cooked pasta and stir.
- Add in the fresh basil and let it cook for a few more minutes.
- Serve and sprinkle with grated Romano cheese.
- This recipe is very flexible, so use it as a guideline and make adjustments according to your own tastes.
- If the zucchini and eggplant start to stick to the pan, just add a dash of water.
- The vegetables will cook down considerably, so if you don’t want them super soft, then reduce the cooking time.