Courgette, Lemon & Pecorino Spaghetti

With the addition of vibrant mint and pine nuts, this is an eastern Mediterranean twist on a classic Italian pasta dish. It’s a light, fresh and speedy number for the middle of the week; ready in under 20 minutes and utterly delicious. If vegetarian, check that your pecorino is suitable or use a vegetarian Italian hard cheese instead.

Found in this book

Ainsley's Mediterranean Cookbook


Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil over a medium heat, add the spaghetti and cook according to the packet instructions until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium– high heat, add the courgettes and fry for 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure that it doesn’t clump together. Reduce the heat to medium, add the dried chilli flakes, pine nuts, dried mint and lemon zest and cook for a further 1–2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper (but be sparing with the salt, as the cheese is salty).

When the pasta is cooked, drain, leaving a little cooking water clinging to the pasta, and tip into the frying pan with the courgettes. Drizzle with a little extra olive oil and add a third of the cheese. Toss everything together over the heat for 30–40 seconds until combined and check the seasoning.

Serve immediately, sprinkled with the remaining cheese and scattered with the fresh mint.



  • 400g dried spaghetti or linguine
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

  • 2 large courgettes, coarsely grated and squeezed to remove excess moisture
  • 1⁄2 tsp dried chilli flakes, or to taste

  • 4 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

  • 1 tsp dried mint

  • zest of 1 lemon

  • 70g pecorino or vegetarian Italian hard cheese, grated

  • 6 fresh mint sprigs, leaves picked

  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper