Zucchini Pesto Pasta Recipe

by Claire Thomas 

Don’t you just love it when something good for you tastes wonderful? Yes, I added cheese and olive oil, but still, baby steps. Zucchini “pasta” has been a pasta sub forever, and with good reason. It’s tender/toothsome quality, plus its absorbency makes it a great stand-in for pasta. The thing to look out for is overcooking it. Too much heat and you’ll get a mushy, though still tasty, mess. For this version, I kept things simple and topped it with zucchini flowers, pesto, and some pine nuts, but feel free to dress it up with your favorite ingredients. This recipe would be wonderful with some fennel sausage if you wanted to make it a bit heartier. Enjoy!

PHOTO: Claire Thomas


NOTE: For 2 dinner servings

3 medium zucchinis

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons pinenuts

6 zucchini flowers

1/4 cup pesto


Grate the zucchini sideways on a cheese grater. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add a big pinch of salt, and then the zucchini, cooking for 1 minute. If making the finished dish later, remove the zucchini and shock in an ice bath. Drain the zucchini and lightly dry on a paper towel, holding until ready to use. If making the finished dish right away, just drain the zucchini and add to the sauté pan, when directed to.

To serve, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the olive oil, then the pine nuts.  Cook, stirring every now and then, until lightly toasted, then add the zucchini flowers.  Cook for about a minute, until the zucchini flowers are wilted, then add the pesto and the zucchini. Sauté for a few minutes, until everything is combined and hot. Pour into plates and top with extra parm if you like. Enjoy!

PHOTO: Claire Thomas

Ingredients for Pesto

2 cups (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves (about 2 bunches)

1/4 cup finely grated parm, plus more

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

1/2 garlic clove, coarsely chopped

kosher salt

1/4 cup mild extra-virgin olive oil plus more for drizzling


For bright green pesto that never goes brown, try blanching your basil in boiling water for 8 to 10 seconds, then shocking it in ice water.  Dry the basil completely with paper towels before popping in the food processor.

Combine the cheese, pine nuts, garlic, and a big pinch of kosher salt. Puree until a thick paste forms. Add basil and blend, drizzling in the olive oil.

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