Pasta with Zucchini and Prawns: Italian Recipe

Mezze Maniche Pasta with Zucchini and Prawns.

This mezze maniche pasta with zucchini and prawns is a really tasty and elegant Italian seafood pasta recipe made with very thinly sliced zucchini and delicious spicy garlicky prawns. This is a simple, easy to make recipe that’s perfect for weeknights, as it takes no time at all to prepare!

mezze maniche pasta with zucchini and prawns

Mezze maniche con gamberi e zucchine.

Zucchini is a great summer vegetable that can be found in so many Italian recipes. Italians use this veg (which is actually botanically a fruit)  in soup, sides, frittata, fritters and pasta, like this pasta with zucchini and prawns recipe. In fact, zucchini are used in lots of pasta recipes especially vegetarian ones or those with salmon and prawns. One of the most popular recipes here on The Pasta Project is farfalle with smoked salmon and zucchini!

mezze maniche pasta with zucchini and prawns in blue and white plate

A little zucchini history!

Although the French and British call them courgettes and some refer to them as baby marrows, zucchini are most well-known as..well zucchini!! As you may imagine the word ‘zucchini’ is Italian! The word comes from the Italian ‘zucca’ which means squash or pumpkin and the suffix ‘ini or ina (= one zucchina) is used for the diminutive form to mean ‘little’. So, little squash.

ingredients for mezze maniche pasta with zucchini and prawns

Although squash and pumpkins originally came to Europe from the Americas in 16th century, zucchini were first developed in Italy in 19th century. They didn’t reach the US until the 1920s.  Apparently, it was Italian immigrants who took zucchini seeds with them to the US and cultivated the vegetable there!

sliced white and green zucchini on a white plate I used two types of zucchini in this recipe, the common dark green ones and what Italians call zucchine ‘bianche’ (white zucchini). Here in Italy, there are a number of different types of zucchini including round ones. Those are great for stuffing and baking! You can also just use the darker green ones.

peeled prawn tails, garlic and capers cooking in frying pan

The pasta

I made this recipe with mezze maniche pasta tubes. But, of course, you can use other pasta tubes like penne or even spaghetti or linguine. Mezze maniche are a type of pasta tube said to originate in Northern/Central Italy.  This pasta is made by most well-known pasta makers and look like small wide rigatoni.

uncooked zucchini slices in frying pan with prawns

Although there aren’t many old traditional recipes for this usually dried pasta, Italians use it in lots of different pasta recipes. You can find recipes here in Italy for mezze maniche pasta with meat, vegetables or seafood, or vegetables together with seafood like this pasta with zucchini and prawns recipe.

zucchini, capers and prawns cooking in frying pan

The prawns or shrimps.

You can use prawns or shrimps to make this pasta with zucchini and prawns. I usually prefer fresh prawns, but my fishmonger didn’t have any. So, this time round I bought frozen uncooked prawn tails (without heads). Whether using fresh or frozen, uncooked is best as the prawns flavour the sauce better. If you have whole fresh prawns, don’t remove the heads or peel from all of them. Leaving some whole will add more flavour and make the finished dish look more sophisticated!

mezze maniche pasta in frying pan with zucchini and prawns

Making this pasta with zucchini and prawns.

Pasta with zucchini and prawns or shrimps is a popular summer pasta dish. Of course, there are different versions of this recipe. Some include ingredients like saffron or cream or tomatoes or other veggies. This version is a very simple one. But, simple doesn’t mean bland. It’s really tasty and pretty easy recipe to make.

mezze maniche pasta with zucchini and prawns in pan

This pasta dish is light and summery. And like many light Italian pasta recipes, it doesn’t have a lot of ‘sauce’. However, the ingredients meld together to coat the pasta with lots of flavour.  I think you could also eat it cold as a pasta salad! I added some peperoncino to give the dish a bit of a kick, but if you don’t like your food spicy you can leave it out.

mezze maniche pasta with zucchini and prawns in blue and white serving dish

If you do try this mezze maniche with zucchini and prawns recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.

Your feedback means a lot to me!

Buon Appetito!

Other pasta with zucchini recipes on The Pasta Project

  1. Pasta with zucchini and saffron
  2. Spaghetti with fried zucchini (alla Nerano)
  3. Baked pasta with pumpkin and zucchini
  4. Orecchiette with zucchini and speck
  5. Pasta with zucchini flowers, saffron and ham

Save this recipe for later?

If you want to save this recipe for later, you can print it, bookmark this page or save it to Pinterest.

5 from 23 votes
mezze maniche pasta with zucchini and prawns in blue and white plate
Pasta with zucchini and prawns
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
23 mins
Total Time
38 mins

This mezze maniche pasta with zucchini and prawns is a really tasty and elegant Italian seafood pasta recipe made with very thinly sliced zucchini and delicious spicy garlicky prawns. 

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: mezze maniche, pasta recipe, prawns, seafood pasta, summer pasta, zucchini
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
  • 400 g mezze maniche pasta (14oz) or other pasta tubes
  • 400-500 g prawns or shrimps (14oz) I used frozen prawn tails
  • 3-4 zucchini
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 glass white wine
  • 1/2 tsp peperocino flakes or 1 tsp fresh peperoncino chopped
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1 handful fresh parsley (optional)
  1. Clean and peel two thirds of the prawns, removing the heads if they are whole. Keep one third whole.

  2. Wash the zucchini, remove the ends, slice them finely with the help of a knife or a mandolin. Then cut the slices in half. 

  3. In a large frying pan or iron skillet, heat two-three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil with the chopped garlic and peperoncino for a minute. 

  4. Add the prawns and the capers to the pan, cook for 5 minutes until the prawns change colour. Add the white wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Add the zucchini and ½ cup of water. Add salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Cover with a lid and simmer until the zucchini are cooked. (about 10 minutes) Stir with a wooden spoon from time to time.

  6. In the meantime, put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again. Cook the pasta al dente according to the instructions on the packet.

  7. When the pasta is cooked drain it and add to the pan with the zucchini and prawns. Stir everything together well and serve immediately with some extra peperoncino or chopped parsley if required.

Recipe Notes

You can make this recipe with different types of pasta tubes such as penne or paccheri. 


Pin for later.

pasta with zucchini and prawns

You May Also Like


  • Avatar
    Baguio Restaurants by Mae
    March 26, 2019 9:50 am

    Nice recipe, it looks delicious. One quick question though, do you have any alternatives for zucchini?

  • Avatar
    Maman de sara
    March 5, 2019 12:24 am

    I don’t think I added zucchinis to my pasta and why not! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  • Avatar
    Kari Heron
    March 4, 2019 6:55 pm

    This pasta project blog was such a great idea and you have created such a lovely niche. Thanks for sharing this one with shrimp.

  • Avatar
    March 4, 2019 3:59 pm

    Simple fresh ingredients! This is my kind of recipe! Love zucchini, can’t wait to try this. Thanks for an amazing recipe!

  • Avatar
    March 4, 2019 10:43 am

    Prawns taste incredibly well with garlic. It seems like the garlic brings out the best flavor you can get out of the prawns. And when you combine them with zucchini and add to pasta, the flavors must go through the roof! Fantastic recipe.

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 11:04 am

      Thank you Mimi! I agree, prawns are so delicious with garlic and combined with zucchini and pasta makes this dish a fab combination of flavours!

  • Avatar
    March 4, 2019 10:40 am

    I really enjoy learning new pasta types on your blog. In fact, I even learn new words – mezze, maniche… I am so happy there is yet so much to discover! Fantastic recipe of yet another delicious pasta.

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 11:05 am

      Thanks so much dear April! I’m very happy you like discovering new pasta types and pasta recipes with me!

  • Avatar
    March 3, 2019 8:34 pm

    I’m all in for a pasta that includes zucchini and prawns — such a great combination! I’m definitely adding this recipe to the rotation.

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 11:12 am

      Thank you dear Amanda! Yes zucchini and prawns are a brilliant addition to pasta! Am certain you’ll really enjoy this dish!

  • Avatar
    Cheese Curd In Paradise
    March 3, 2019 5:09 am

    I am pinning this recipe for later because it looks so darn good! We are not in our summer growing season yet, but when we are I am always looking for zucchini recipes and this looks delicious!

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 11:13 am

      Thanks so much! This is a great zucchini recipe! Zucchini is a popular veggie with pasta and there are lots of Italian recipes with it. If you visit again do look at some of the other zucchini pasta recipes I have posted!

  • Avatar
    Byron Thomas
    March 3, 2019 1:42 am

    This pasta sounds so delicious! Whenever I buy zucchini, I always buy way more than I need. I could use up the extra is a great pasta dish like this! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 11:15 am

      Happy you like this recipe Byron! Pasta with zucchini is a great way to use extra zucchini up! Plus it’s really delicious!

  • Avatar
    Kacie Morgan
    March 2, 2019 6:37 pm

    What I love about this dish is that the courgette help to make it somewhat of a spring/summer dish – ideal for the current transition in seasons we seem to be experiencing 🙂

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 11:18 am

      Zucchini are traditionally a summer veg so adding them does give any recipe a summery feel Kacie! Of course, nowadays, we can find zucchini most of the year here in Italy so I can use them frequently. However, yes, they really are best when the weather starts to warm up, like it’s doing now!!

  • Avatar
    March 2, 2019 6:22 am

    Never thought cooking with zucchini can be this fun. I mean, this pasta with prawns and zucchini make Summer more festive and colorful. Definitely will give it a try.

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 1:06 pm

      Thanks Linda! I agree this dish looks quite festive. It’s definitely a super summer recipe!

  • Avatar
    Fiona Maclean
    March 2, 2019 12:43 am

    gosh I love the story of the zucchini going backwards and forwards across the ocean from the Americas to Europe and then back to the US! That recipe sounds like exactly the sort of thing I’d make for my own supper.

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 1:08 pm

      Thanks for your comment Fiona! I found it quite ironic that zucchini (well squash) originated in the Americas but it was Italian immigrants who introduced zucchini to the US. There are actually quite a lot of veggies that were first cultivated in Italy, like broccoli. Am sure you’ll love this pasta recipe if you make it!

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    February 28, 2019 6:44 pm

    I love that interesting history on zucchini. You are always bringing such informative history lessons along with your fabulous food!

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 1:27 pm

      Thanks so much Stine Mari! I enjoy researching my recipes or ingredients and sharing the interesting bits!

  • Avatar
    February 28, 2019 4:33 pm

    Shrimp are easier to find around here so I would probably use those, but I love all the flavors you have going on here. Nothing like a good Italian meal to warm the belly!

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 1:28 pm

      Thanks Vicky! Shrimps go well too in this recipe, although best if you can find uncooked ones. They’ll have more flavour!

  • Avatar
    February 28, 2019 3:25 pm

    This is so light and perfect for summer! Such a wonderful combination just bursting with flavor.

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 1:29 pm

      I’m happy you like this recipe Demeter! Yes it’s a great summer recipe!

  • Avatar
    February 28, 2019 3:24 pm

    Pasta is always a winning dish in our house for dinner. Can’t wait to add this one into our rotation.

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 1:30 pm

      Thank you Sabrina! We love pasta too and especially because there are so many great ways to serve it that we never get bored with it! Am sure you’ll love this dish!

  • Avatar
    February 28, 2019 3:06 pm

    Such a delicious, flavorful recipe! My whole family gobbled this one up!

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 1:31 pm

      So great that you and your family enjoyed this pasta dish! Thanks for letting me know Kim!

  • Avatar
    Danielle Wolter
    February 28, 2019 1:44 pm

    definitely something for an easy weeknight dinner. i love my pasta with shrimp in it.the simplicity of this dish is what makes it so great!

    • Jacqui
      February 28, 2019 2:12 pm

      Thank you Danielle! Yes this is a great dish for weeknights because it’s super simple to make!

  • Avatar
    February 28, 2019 4:33 am

    In my opinion you really can’t go wrong with shrimp or prawns in anything. I never was a fan of zucchini really, until recently but now I love it with everything!

    • Jacqui
      March 4, 2019 1:38 pm

      I agree Carmella, shrimp or prawns are a great addition to many dishes, not only pasta ones! I think zucchini are best used in different recipes rather than as a side dish!

  • Avatar
    Lisa | Garlic & Zest
    February 28, 2019 1:22 am

    I really love the look of this dish! Our garden overflows with zucchini in the summer, so this will definitely be in our regular dinner rotation. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Jacqui
      February 28, 2019 2:13 pm

      Lucky you having lots of homegrown zucchini Lisa! I’m sure you’ll love this dish when you make it!

  • Avatar
    Tristin Rieken
    February 28, 2019 12:35 am

    Delicious! I love the combination of zucchini and prawns and the information about zucchini is very interesting, I learned quite a few new things. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Jacqui
      February 28, 2019 2:14 pm

      Thanks Tristin! Zucchini and prawns or shrimps is such a popular comb here in Italy! I guess coz it’s so delicious! Happy you liked the info too!

  • Avatar
    February 27, 2019 11:59 pm

    I love all kinds of pasta dishes. This looks delicious and easy to prepare. The perfect way to feed your family…and great for entertaining too.

    • Jacqui
      February 28, 2019 2:15 pm

      Thank you Gloria! Yes this dish works for family meals and entertaining! It’s simple to make but looks sophisticated!

  • Avatar
    Jessica Formicola
    February 27, 2019 10:30 pm

    This pasta was a total hit with the whole family! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Jacqui
      February 28, 2019 2:16 pm

      So thrilled you made and liked this dish Jessica!

  • Avatar
    Kelly Anthony
    February 27, 2019 8:54 pm

    Shrimp in pasta is my very favorite and I love that this recipe is quick and easy. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jacqui
      February 28, 2019 2:17 pm

      Glad you like this recipe Kelly! I love shrimp or prawns in pasta too!

  • Avatar
    Lesli Schwartz
    February 27, 2019 8:36 pm

    Always looking for a good pasta recipe that has all the healthy things. This is one I will definitely be saving! Looks delish!

    • Jacqui
      February 28, 2019 2:18 pm

      Grazie Lesli! I love this recipe because it’s pretty healthy, especially if you use fresh ingredients!

Leave a Reply

Recipe Rating