JOIN! 12 Weeks for $1

Pasta with Zucchini, Pancetta and Saffron

4 Servings

40 minutes

Made This Recipe? Write a Review.
Thank you for submitting your review! A member of our team is confirming the review meets our site's Community Guidelines. It will be posted on the site shortly.

This is our version of a fantastic pasta offering from Trattoria Bertozzi in Bologna, Italy. In lieu of guanciale (cured pork jowl), we opted for easier-to-find but equally meaty pancetta, and we lightened up the dish’s richness by swapping half-and-half for the cream. The restaurant uses gramigna pasta, a tubular, curled shape from the Emilio-Romagna region. We found that more widely available cavatappi or gemelli works just as well combining with the zucchini and catching the lightly creamy sauce in its crevices.




Don’t boil the pasta until al dente. Drain it when it has a little more bite than is desirable in the finished dish; the noodles will cook a bit more in the sauce. Also, don’t forget to reserve 2 cups of the cooking water before draining the pasta.

40 minutes


  • 1

    pound zucchini

  • 12

    ounces short, curly pasta, such as cavatappi or gemelli


Pardon the interruption

You need to be a Milk Street Digital Member to see the full recipe


and get access to all of our recipes and articles online, as well as in print.

How we use your email.

Your email address is required to identify your subscription. We will use it for customer service as well as other communications from Milk Street. We will not share, or rent your email address.

Erik M.
September 30, 2022
Easy and delicious.
Smash a couple cloves of garlic instead of chopping one, throw them in the oil while it heats, then add the pancetta and remove both when the pancetta's brown. Follow the recipe from there and add the pancetta back after adding the pasta and making the sauce once the zuchinni is browned. Two picky eaters in my home loved this dish.
Michael N.
August 7, 2022
It was late Sunday and only had zucchini and saffron but got it to work. Used pork belly, chickpea type noodles and Romano cheese. Also used milk and butter instead of half and half. Turned out fine and hope the next time I will use the called for ingredients
Laurie B.
May 5, 2024
We found this recipe was good but lacked depth of flavor. It tasted
Celia C.
July 27, 2023
Easy and delicious
We followed the direction almost exactly. Used 8 oz of pasta and more zucchini. Added a squeeze of lemon at the end. This will be a summer staple.
Felix P.

Great recipe. Easy to follow and delicious! Cooking time was about 10 minutes longer than prescribed.

Lisa L.

Just made it but didn't have pancetta so I used bacon (quarantine). I threw some cherry tomatoes in at the last minute, it looked a bit drab. Its delicious and I can't wait to make it again with pancetta.

elizabeth g.

Lisa L., We have been having luck getting panchetta from Whole Foods delivered free through Amazon Prime. It is the best panchetta I have ever used.

Trent H.

Wonderful recipe. If it were any easier it'd be takeout. Made it as directed and it turned out perfectly. If you're missing the gemelli, you can use penne and it won't even feel like it's in a pinch!

Jennifer B.

sublime. the secret is in using the pasta cooking water. I forgot to add the cream and didn't miss it. the saffron imparted a lovely color.

Pamela A.

Made this last night for dinner - OMG, so quick, easy and good. Will definitely become a regular on my easy-night cooking. I followed the recipe as is and then decided to add some parmesan cheese to the hot mixture so it would melt in and become part of the overall taste, and also added shavings on top, I liked both with and without the melted parmesan cheese.

Jean D.

Not very flavorful. Too much pasta and too little other ingredients. Would not make again.

Barb M.

Sorry, I usually love everything Milk Street, but this didn’t make it for me - was bland even after adding more cheese, ground pepper and a bit more salt and a shake of crushed pepper.

David E.

Appreciate all the comments, this is an excellent recipe with some adjustments. I doubled the pancetta added two hands full of cherry tomatoes and edamame, dusted it with Italian seasoning and added red pepper flakes. Again this is an excellent recipe

Kalina Z.

Loved this! I used 4 oz of pancetta, a little more zucchini, & used whole milk with butter. My family devoured it & asked for it again.