Foodist Approved: Zucchini Pesto “Pasta”

by | Apr 30, 2014
Zucchini noodles

Zucchini noodles

Remember how I told you to make a double batch of my kale hazelnut pesto? I hope you listened! We’re going to put that leftover pesto to good use to make a simple, but insanely satisfying noodle dish, sans noodles.

The first time I made this pesto “pasta” dish using zucchini as the noodles instead of pasta, I thought there’s no way this is going to fill me up. I found the opposite to be true. This pasta tastes indulgent and is richly satisfying thanks to the flavor-loaded pesto and nutrient-packed ingredients.

Top this pasta with your favorite broiled or grilled fish and you have a complete dinner that looks straight out of your favorite Italian cookbook.

This dish is great for the gluten-free crowd, but you don’t have to be Paleo to trade your rigatoni for fresh zucchini. Even my pasta-loving husband gave this dish a rave review.

Zucchini Pesto “Pasta”

Yield: 2 servings

  • 2 large zucchinis or 4 small
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup kale hazelnut pesto
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: your favorite broiled or grilled fish

Thinly slice the zucchini into pasta ribbons. A vegetable spiralizer works best for this, but you can also use a mandoline, julienne peeler or try Darya’s method with a regular vegetable peeler.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the zucchini noodles and toss lightly with tongs. Add a pinch of salt. Continue tossing for a couple of minutes.

Once the zucchini begins to release its juices add in the pesto. The pesto and the juice from the zucchini will combine to make a sauce.

Turn down the heat and continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes, tossing to evenly mix in the pesto. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pile into pasta bowls and top with your favorite grilled or broiled fish.

Elyse Kopecky is a social media and digital technology consultant based in Portland, OR. After 10 years working for NIKE and EA SPORTS in Portland, Amsterdam and Geneva she briefly left her desk job for the chance to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at and @freshabits.


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8 Responses to “Foodist Approved: Zucchini Pesto “Pasta””

  1. Patricia says:

    This is great. I used Darya’s method to prepare the squash. I also used a basil pesto because I have so much in the garden. Still the “pasta ribbons” were very good, crisp-tender and with a piece of pan seared tilapia was very filling and delicious. I was a little suprised by that, but there you are… the squash was not soggy, and held up as I needed the same pan to sear the fish.

  2. Kathleen says:

    My sister made this dish and has not stopped raving about it- makes me want to give it a go myself! She used both yellow and green squash and it was very pretty from the picture she sent. I like the “Paleo” mention; as an Anthropologist I have been teaching students about how healthy the ancient human diet was for years.

    • Thanks for sharing Kathleen! Glad your sis inspired you to try it. Great idea to use a variety of squash. I was very excited to find local zucchini at the farmers market this past weekend.

  3. Casi says:

    Does anyone have any suggestions for vegetarian protein that would go well with this? Looking forward to trying it!

  4. Tami says:

    Wow! This was another great meal Elyse. My husband even enjoyed it! I never thought I could pass off zucchini as pasta. Zucchini as pasta has been life changing for me. I tried it with a fresh tomato sauce and wow. I am a pasta lover but I actually think the zucchini shows off the flavors in the sauces even more than the pasta. Keep the recipes coming please!!

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