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Quick, healthy zucchini basil pesto | A simple recipe transforms extra zucchini into pesto with spinach, parmesan and pine nuts. Toss with pasta for a fresh vegetarian dinner.
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5 from 11 votes

Quick, Healthy Zucchini Basil Pesto

A simple recipe to transform excess zucchini into healthy zucchini basil pesto with spinach, parmesan and pine nuts. Toss with pasta for a quick weeknight meal! Yummy as-is for vegetarians, or add some grilled chicken for extra protein.


For the Pesto:

  • 2 cups grated zucchini from 1 large or 2 small zucchini
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

To Serve:

  • 16 ounces (500 grams) pasta
  • additional parmesan and pine nuts as desired


  • In a food processor fitted with the shredding disc, grate the zucchini. Scoop zucchini out of the bowl and into a clean dish towel. (The towel might absorb some green color, which should wash out, but use an *old* clean towel to be safe - or paper towels.)
  • Wrap the shredded zucchini up in the towel, and squeeze with your hands to press some of the water out into the sink. Replace the shredding disc with the metal blade, and return the (somewhat more dry) shredded zucchini to the bowl of the food processor.
  • Add the garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, basil, spinach, salt, and pepper to the zucchini and process until smooth. With the food processor running, slowly add olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
  • Stir pesto into cooked pasta, and serve with additional parmesan and pine nuts, as desired. Pesto will keep at least 3-4 days in the fridge; store with a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto in a tightly sealed container. (The olive oil minimizes the pesto’s contact with air, which keeps it fresher longer.)

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 399kcal, Carbohydrates: 59g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 11g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 5mg, Sodium: 339mg, Potassium: 359mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 830IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 136mg, Iron: 1.7mg
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