We Made Meghan Markle’s Zucchini Bolognese and Were Pleasantly Surprised
This zucchini Bolognese is surprisingly rich and creamy.
Meghan Markle gave us a peek into her favorite foods in a 2018 interview. She mentioned a 3-ingredient zucchini Bolognese sauce that’s so creamy, “you’d swear there’s tons of butter or oil in it.” That was enough to send me into the kitchen to test this wonder sauce!
Meghan uses only zucchini, water and a bit of bouillon for her zucchini Bolognese. But I wanted to build out the flavors a bit more. In addition to the zucchini and bouillon I added some onion, a dash of garlic, lemon, red pepper flakes and Parmesan.
The result is a fresh pasta sauce that’s the perfect summer dinner—and no, it doesn’t involve zucchini noodles! If you love sneaking vegetables into all kinds of recipes, don’t forget to check out these chocolate zucchini recipes or my zucchini turkey burgers.
How to Make Zucchini Bolognese
Lauren Grant for Taste of Home, Getty Images
This recipe makes 8 cups of pasta. It only takes 10 minutes of prep time but does need to simmer on the stovetop for about 4 hours.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 white onion, diced
- 5 medium zucchini, chopped (8 cups)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 chicken bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon bouillon paste
- Kosher salt
- 1 pound dry rigatoni pasta
- 4 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Step 1: Make zucchini mixture
Lauren Grant for Taste of Home
Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium. Add onion and cook until it starts to soften, about 6 minutes. Then season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk together ½ cup water and bouillon cube then add to onion mixture. Stir in zucchini, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Step 2: Cook zucchini down
Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until zucchini is falling apart, 4 hours.
Step 3: Cook pasta
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; season generously with salt. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the package directions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water, then drain your pasta.
Step 4: Add cheese
Lauren Grant for Taste of Home
Meanwhile, add Parmesan, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and pepper flakes to zucchini mixture and stir until cheesy and melty.
Step 5: Add pasta and serve
Add drained pasta and 1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water; stir well to combine. You can add additional pasta cooking water by the tablespoon to achieve deserved sauciness. Season with salt to taste. Top servings with additional grated Parmesan and red pepper flakes.
Here’s What I Thought
First off, let’s say what this dish is—and what it isn’t.
What it is: a creamy almost-vegetarian pasta dish.
What it isn’t: traditional Bolognese.
The first taste of this creamy veggie pasta took me by surprise. It’s unexpected but grew on me with every bite I took!
The creamy, luscious sauce was what I liked most about this zucchini Bolognese. The zucchini cooks down into something resembling a pureed sauce. The dish itself is tangy and fresh while also being perfectly cozy. I do think it’s missing a certain savoriness—but that’s nothing some crumbled bacon couldn’t fix.
The flavor of this dish is slightly herby (even though there are no herbs in it), bright, tangy and cheesy. If I were to make this again I would consider using white wine in place of the water, adding a dried bay leaf to the zucchini mixture as it cooks down, finishing with butter or a splash of olive oil and sprinkling some crispy prosciutto or bacon over each serving.
Tips for Making Zucchini Bolognese
Can I make this vegetarian/vegan?
You can absolutely make this recipe vegetarian by using vegetable bouillon instead of chicken bouillon. It will be harder to make the zucchini Bolognese vegan, as the Parmesan cheese plays a large role in both the texture and flavor of this dish. If you need to make this vegan, skip the Parmesan cheese altogether.
How can I make this my own?
- Try topping each serving with some crispy bacon bits or frizzled prosciutto.
- Some fresh herbs such as chives, basil, or thyme would be a great addition to the pasta as well.
- Mix up the pasta shape to use up what’s in the pantry.
- Try using a mix of different hard-aged cheeses, like pecorino, Gouda or Gruyere.
Do I need to cook the zucchini for 4 hours?
You could get away with cooking the zucchini and onion mixture for 3 hours. Don’t skip this step—set aside enough time to cook the zucchini into a soft mush.