Zucchini “Noodles” with Pesto & Pine Nuts

5 stars based on 12 votes

zucchini noodles

Known for its tender flesh and delicate flavor, zucchini is nothing if not versatile — you can grill it, sauté it, fry it, and even bake into breads. However, its mild flavor can be a bit bland, so when my garden bursts with zucchini every summer, I’m always looking for new ways to spice it up. Here, peeling the zucchini into wide ribbons and discarding the seeds makes it less watery and creates more surface area for the sauce to coat, almost like pasta. And pesto loaded with garlic and basil adds vibrant flavor. Zucchini masquerading as noodles…what could be better?

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Zucchini 1


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Servings: 4
Total Time: 20 Minutes


  • 3 (about 2-1/2 lbs) large zucchini (larger zucchini make for nicer, wider noodles)
  • 2 tablespoons homemade or store bought pesto, best quality
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts or chopped walnuts, toasted until golden*
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  1. Using a vegetable peeler, press firmly and peel zucchini into long, wide ribbons. Work your way around the zucchini and stop when you get to the seeds.
  2. Lightly coat a non-stick pan with olive oil and heat to medium-high heat. Add the zucchini "noodles" to pan and gently stir for about 1-2 minutes, until just al dente.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the cooked zucchini, pesto sauce, Parmesan cheese and toasted nuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste (be sure to add enough salt to bring out all the flavors), then serve.
  4. *To toast the nuts, preheat the toaster oven or oven to 350 degrees. Toast until golden, watching carefully, for about 5 minutes.
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Reviews & Comments

  • Will this work with store bought spiralized zucchini noodles or would they be too watery? Thanks.

    - Danielle on November 16, 2017 Reply
    • Sure, Danielle – I think those will work well. Just be sure not to cook too long.

      - Jenn on November 16, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Hi Jen,

    We made this tonight with the Greek shrimp with feta. My family loves when I cook. Everyone loved it. Could adopt for vegetarian daughter and still impress my Japanese exchange student daughter. I love coming to you for quick meals I can make and then then I sit back and enjoy the family conversations.

    - LindaVensel on April 26, 2017 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Excellent hot or cold. A scoop of cottage cheese on the side, a piece of fruit and one has a great lunch.

    - martha on August 18, 2016 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Fantastic. Made this with the Basil Walnut Pesto; I substituted pine nuts for the walnuts. Great recipes.

    - Deborah on December 7, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My husband is not a fan of zucchini, but this recipe changed his outlook on what he has previously considered a bland, mushy veggie.

    - Karen on October 3, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Tried the Zucchini noodle dish.
    Yum. I loved it.
    What do you think of a dollop of sour cream on top next time ?


    - Diane Seibert on July 18, 2015 Reply
    • Glad you enjoyed it, Diane. A creamy pesto sounds delicious 🙂

      - Jenn on July 18, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    True comfort food. We love this. Simple and simply perfect.

    - Jane on May 24, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Delicious, and very simple to put together!! I added sautéed mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, and sundried tomatoes, and then threw in a little chicken too. It was very filling! Will definitely be making this regularly.

    - Jessica on March 26, 2015 Reply
  • After making this for a few years as is, I started using spirialed zucchini. I have also used a sun dried tomato pesto. Still yummy.

    - Laura on March 20, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Delicious recipe, but I found I couldn’t eat as leftovers the next day because the zucchini got too watery. The sauce was still delicious … but the texture was mushy. In summary, don’t make more than you plan to eat at a sitting.

    - Carolina on December 4, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    So easy and so delicious. I had just made some fresh pesto with my abundant basil plant. Jen has never let me down!

    - Claire on August 24, 2014 Reply
  • 4 stars

    Good recipe I had to omit the nuts. I will try with different sauces. I wonder if I could use the ribbons in a pasta bake type dish, is that possible Chef Jen? Thanks.

    - Lateef on July 4, 2014 Reply
    • Yes, Lateef, that would work well. Please let me know how it turns out!

      - Jenn on July 5, 2014 Reply
  • Wow! This recipe is one of my favorite summer Veggie dishes. The pesto was a nice twist on this old favorite!

    - Jennifer on November 5, 2013 Reply
    • 5 stars

      What better way to enjoy your vegetables than turning them into noodles! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

      - Spiral Slicer on June 11, 2014 Reply
  • I love that you gave zucchini noodles the spotlight here! I love them so much that I devoted a food blog to the spiralizer… check it out sometime, inspiralized.com! love this post!!

    - Ali @ Inspiralized on September 6, 2013 Reply
  • Does this need to be served warm/hot or can it be served at room temperature?

    - casbarn on June 12, 2013 Reply
    • Either way is fine. Hope you enjoy!

      - Jenn on June 12, 2013 Reply
  • where is recipe for home made pesto please .?

    - Ella Duhon on May 14, 2013 Reply
  • I loved this recipe. My husband is not a fan of green vegetables but he has happily had this dish a few times. I’ve served it as a side dish with chicken or something else not too rich. I find I need very little of the pesto. The flavor goes a long way on the “noodles”. Trying to cut the carbs a bit for our meals, I love having this recipe in my arsenal.

    - marcia on March 9, 2013 Reply
  • So glad I found this recipe. I used store bought pesto and added cannellini beans for some added protein and it was delicious! I stored the extra sauce separate from the “noodles” and carried it to work for lunch the next day and it re-heated really well. Healthy vegetarian dinners in under 20 minutes, including prep time, are a big hit in my busy life. 🙂

    - Kim on January 11, 2013 Reply
  • My 10 year old nephew who does NOT EAT vegetables loved these “noodles”!! Thanks for another great recipe Jen!!

    - Karen on October 4, 2012 Reply
  • This sounds like a winner! I am going to try it tonight.


    - Magi on October 2, 2012 Reply
  • This is fantastic! I made it with walnuts and added a dash of cayenne pepper for a little bit of bite.

    And the left-overs are great on a Flatout bread pizza.

    - Katie on July 22, 2012 Reply
  • This is delicious..and so easy! I used both zucchini and yellow squash, walnuts, and store-bought basil pesto–I had these on hand. I added a dash of crushed red pepper, because we like it 🙂
    This is so quick to put together that it is a perfect busy evening side.

    - Mary Beth Elderton on June 21, 2012 Reply
    • 5 stars

      Glad to hear that yellow squash works too-I’ve got some that I need to use up!

      - Angela Marie on September 4, 2017 Reply
  • My husband absolutely loved this, and he is not a “vegetable lover.” Shaving the vegetables did not take as much time as I thought. I used walnuts instead of pine nuts. They were good, but I think pine nuts would be even better. I printed this off and will definitely make it again.

    - Kristin S on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • I tried this and it was fantastic. Even was able to get my child to eat it and he liked it.

    - JIMMY SHROYER on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • Zucchini are growing like mad! Knew you would have a “new & different” idea to use them up!

    - Cherie on June 20, 2012 Reply
  • Zucchini in the garden are about 5″ long – won’t be long before I try this…. and anything else I can find to use it up!!

    - Cherie on May 21, 2012 Reply
  • This was delicious! The pesto and pine nuts were perfect. My only problem was that the strips tended to stick together. Next time I will separate them as I add them to the pan. But this is an amazingly quick dish. I served with rice, garlic bread and sliced tomatoes for a meatless meal. Yum.

    - Martha C on May 15, 2012 Reply
  • This looks so good! Can’t wait to try it.

    - Judi on April 2, 2012 Reply
  • We are always looking for things to do with zucchini in the summer. I will try this one soon.

    - LaurenS on March 7, 2012 Reply
  • Delicious and a great way to use zucchini in the summer!

    - Mary on March 6, 2012 Reply
  • I will definitely be using this recipe. With the pine nuts for crunch, even my hubby will eat this for Meatless Monday!
    Vickie, thanks for the hint.

    - Sue on March 3, 2012 Reply
  • Yum and healthy! Sometimes zucchini can be too watery for me, but when you give this a minute to simmer, you lose the water and can drain the “noodles”. The nuts are a must for the texture, and I also needed more salt and pepper.

    - Vickie Hickey on March 1, 2012 Reply
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  • Zucchini “Noodles” with Pesto & Pine Nuts<-- interesting!

    - free ipad on October 18, 2010 Reply
  • Zucchini “Noodles” with Pesto & Pine Nuts <-- wow I loved it! 🙂

    - forbes rich list on September 24, 2010 Reply
  • Delicious! I’ve made this a few times now…the key is to barely cook the zucchini.

    - Lori on October 17, 2009 Reply
  • I love your blog! Everything is very elegant and beautifully done! All my favorite foodgawker pictures are usually yours. I can’t wait to try that buttered rum cider you posted. This recipe looks healthy and delicious 🙂

    - JoJo on October 17, 2009 Reply
  • This dish is going on my Thanksgiving menu! Thank you for the idea.

    - Julia on October 14, 2009 Reply
  • I wonder if these would hold up in a soup? Perhaps if I added them at the last minute? Gorgeous photos!

    - cinnamonquill on October 10, 2009 Reply
  • Great way to enjoy some fresh zucchini!

    - Kevin on October 10, 2009 Reply
  • My husband and I are both on low carb diets, so this is a perfect dish for us. I’ve been making it as a pasta substitute. Delish idea…thank you

    - judy on October 9, 2009 Reply
  • What a wonderful side dish – I cannot wait to try this one!!

    - Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer on October 9, 2009 Reply
  • Yum! Would have never thought of making noodles out of those slightly bloated zucchini! And since i love to make my own pesto this is an instant hit for my roommates and I. I’ve got this in my bookmark feed… yummy ideas. Thanks!

    - Cameron on September 29, 2009 Reply
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