Walnut Basil Pesto with Zucchini Noodles

A Few Words…

Very rarely do I order pasta at a restaurant. When I have, it was because I was in Italy (when in Rome do as the Romans do and they make pasta like no one else!) or if there was no other option (I love fish and it’s my #1 choice!) on the menu.

A few years ago while we were at an Italian Restaurant while on vacation, something caught my eye on the menu – Zucchini Marinara! I never, ever had noodles made out of zucchini before and it was absolutely delicious. This was several years ago and since then I’ve been spiralizing zucchini and other veggies and adding them to salads or using them as ‘noodles’ paired with different sauces. My two favorite pairings are with a lentil marinara or a pesto sauce. Here’s my lightened up version of pesto and it’s really quite yummy!

And if you aren’t a fan of zucchini noodles, then use it with your favorite pasta noodles!

Walnut Basil Pesto with Zucchini Noodles

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  • 2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted (see Tip)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, quartered
  • 6 medium zucchini, spiralized
  • 1 tbs. olive oil

Place walnut halves in the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped.
Add in the basil leaves and garlic cloves. Pulse until no large pieces of garlic remain. Pulse in the grated cheese, scrap down the sides as needed. With the lid on and motor running, stream in the olive oil very slowly. Scrap the sides well and process until smooth.

Warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the zucchini ‘pasta’ and sauté for 5 about minutes, until the zucchini has softened a bit. Put the noodles in a serving bowl, toss with the a small amount of the pesto until desired consistency is reached.

To store pesto: Fill your pesto in a small jar with a tight fitting lid. Drizzle a little olive oil on top, and then close it and keep it in the fridge. It will keep for a few weeks if you add a tiny bit of oil on top after each use.

Tip: To toast walnuts: Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350°F on the middle shelf in the oven. Toss occasionally until fragrant and lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.