Easy 30 minute pasta meal packed with herbs, veggies, and creamy creme fraiche. A meal you can feel good about eating any day of the week!

Taste the freshness of the zucchini and tomatoes in this recipe as they are generously coated in a delightful herby crème fraîche sauce. It is a summer produce celebration! It serves a crowd by doubling the recipe and it comes together in no time. Add this to your weekly meal plan this week. Mangia! Mangia! (Eat!)

What isCrème fraîche?

Crème fraîche (pronounced “krem fresh”) is a version of sour cream with a higher fat content, which makes it good for cooking because it is less prone to curdling when you simmer it. While it looks similar to sour cream, crème fraîche is thicker, richer, and tastes less tangy than sour cream. A common dairy staple throughout Europe, crème fraîche is less common in the United States.  

What can I substitute for Creme Fraiche?

Sour cream is the most common substitute for crème fraîche, since both have a slightly sour taste and are cultured. You can substitute an equal amount of sour cream for crème fraîche in just about any type of recipe. The only difference is that sour cream will curdle if it is exposed to too much heat. If subbing in this recipe make sure your pan is not too hot when adding it at the right step.

Mascarpone is another substitute for crème fraîche. This is an Italian cheese that is soft and creamy with a more mild and not sour taste. It does well with higher heat, so it works particularly well in this recipe.

Paccheri Pasta Shape and Meaning

Paccheri is a type of pasta in the shape of a large tube, originating from Campania. They are generally smooth, but there is also a ribbed version, paccheri millerighe. The name comes from Neapolitan word paccharia, “slaps”, but not in the aggressive sense of the word.

Many attribute the name to the noise made when pouring sauce onto the pasta, which in Italian is described as resembling a ‘schiaffo’ or in Neopolitan dialect ‘una pacca’, which also means a slap. I’m not sure why the term “slap” is so common for talking about all things pasta?! Italians are passionate but generally not violent, ha!

Buy Paccheri Pasta HERE

Substitutions for Paccheri Pasta

For this meal I recommend short pasta since the zucchini and tomatoes are cut small they fit will with the short pasta shape. Options include:

  • Rigatoni
  • Fusilli
  • Penne
  • Farfalle (bow tie)
  • Orecchiette
  • Medium Shells

The History Behind Paccheri Pasta…

A Little HISTORY BEHIND THE NAME: Interestingly, food history tells us that Southern Italian pasta makers secretly invented paccheri pasta to be perfectly shaped to hide approx. four garlic cloves in each hollow center. This garlic smuggling operation was so effective that, in the early 1800s, the Prussian garlic industry finally collapsed. The Austrian government never found out how Italian garlic was smuggled through the Alps so secretively! Apparently, Austrain garlic was rather small and not very tasty or strong. In contrast, Southern Italian garlic, was desired by Austrian and Hungarian aristocracy.

Fresh and Easy Vegetable Pasta Dinner…

I love the big tube center of this pasta with its capability to kidnap ingredients inside the hollow center. The garlic chunks, are a favorite to get trapped inside. When paired with small chunks of zucchini and tomato combined with the herby creamy creme fraiche sauce this dish will surely have you coming back for seconds. The ingredients are simple and the taste is beyond delicious. You don’t want to miss this one!

From my cucina to your table. Made with Amore, Elena

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pasta, authentic italian, creme fraiche, pasta and vegetables, 30 minute meals
Yummy Veggie Pasta with Fresh Herbs and Creme Fraiche
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pasta, authentic italian, creme fraiche, pasta and vegetables, 30 minute meals

Paccheri Pasta with Zucchini, Fresh Tomatoes, and Creme Fraiche

  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Total Time: 30 min
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Savory
  • Cuisine: Italian/ French


Easy 30 minute meal packed with herbs, veggies, and creamy creme fraiche. A meal you can feel good about eating any day of the week!


Units Scale
  • 1 pound (454 g) Paccheri pasta or other short pasta of choice
  • 3 cups of cubed zucchini
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 18 0z container of creme fraiche (Bellwether Farms or Vermont Creamery)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, cut in quarters
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped (a little extra for garnish)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh tomatoes, diced
  • salt for seasoning and adding to pasta water


  1. Heat a large sauce pan to medium heat. Add the olive oil, onion and garlic to the pan. Cook for about 3 minutes until soft.
  2. Add the zucchini and herbs to the pan. Cook for an additional 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly brown. Turn off heat and stir in fresh tomatoes and season with salt. Set aside.
  3.  Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt water generously. Add pasta and cook until package direction “al dente”. Reserve 1/3 cup of pasta water before draining the pasta. Start by adding half of the water in the sauce pan with the zucchini and tomatoes.
  4. Add the creme fraiche to the pan with the cooked zucchini and tomatoes. Stir until creamy sauce forms. If needed, add the rest of the pasta water. 
  5. Drain pasta and add to the large sauce pan with creamy sauce, zucchini, tomatoes, and herbs. Add parmigiano. Stir until incorporated and pasta is evenly coated with the sauce.
  6. Serve immediately! Great as leftovers. 


Enjoy hot with a side of delicious crusty bread! Mangia! Mangia!

Keywords: pasta, zucchini, tomatoes, creme fraiche, 30 minute meal, vegetarian meal, pasta dinner