Zucchini Noodles with Pesto & Pine Nuts

Tested & Perfected Recipes

These zucchini noodles are peeled into wide ribbons to mimic pappardelle pasta, and pesto adds vibrant summer flavor.

With 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 pappardelle pasta. And pesto loaded with garlic and basil adds vibrant flavor.

What You’ll Need To Make Zucchini Noodles with Pesto

ingredients to make zucchini noodles

How To Make Zucchini Noodles with Pesto

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.
peeling the zucchini into wide ribbons

Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini “noodles” to the pan. It will seem like a lot. Don’t worry; they’ll cook down.

zucchini noodles in the pan

Cook the zucchini noodles, stirring gently with tongs, for about 2 minutes, until just softened. Do not overcook.

cooked zucchini noodlesAdd the pesto, Parmesan cheese, toasted nuts, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper.

adding the pesto, pine nuts, cheese, and seasoning to the zucchiniToss well, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary (be sure to add enough salt to bring out all the flavors).

finished zucchini noodlesTransfer the zucchini noodles to a serving bowl and top with more cheese, if desired. Serve warm or room temperature.

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Zucchini Noodles with Pesto & Pine Nuts

These zucchini noodles are peeled into wide ribbons to mimic pappardelle pasta, and pesto adds vibrant summer flavor.

Servings: 4 (as a side dish)
Total Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients

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

Instructions

  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. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini "noodles" to the pan and cook, stirring gently with tongs, for about 2 minutes, until just softened. Do not overcook.
  3. Add the pesto, Parmesan cheese, toasted nuts, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Toss well, then taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary (be sure to add enough salt to bring out all the flavors). Transfer the zucchini noodles to a serving bowl and top with more cheese, if desired. Serve warm or room temperature.
  4. *To toast the nuts, put them in a dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until golden in spots, about 3 minutes.

Pair with

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • delish and simple

    • — Linda O'Connell on August 23, 2019
    • Reply
  • 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
  • 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.

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

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

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

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

    Thanks

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Diane. A creamy pesto sounds delicious 🙂

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

    • Yes, Lateef, that would work well. Please let me know how it turns out!

  • Wow! This recipe is one of my favorite summer Veggie dishes. The pesto was a nice twist on this old favorite!

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

  • 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!!

  • Does this need to be served warm/hot or can it be served at room temperature?

    • Either way is fine. Hope you enjoy!

  • where is recipe for home made pesto please .?

  • 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.

  • 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. 🙂

  • My 10 year old nephew who does NOT EAT vegetables loved these “noodles”!! Thanks for another great recipe Jen!!

  • This sounds like a winner! I am going to try it tonight.

    Thanks!

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • I tried this and it was fantastic. Even was able to get my child to eat it and he liked it.

  • Zucchini are growing like mad! Knew you would have a “new & different” idea to use them up!

  • 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!!

  • 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.

  • This looks so good! Can’t wait to try it.

  • We are always looking for things to do with zucchini in the summer. I will try this one soon.

  • Delicious and a great way to use zucchini in the summer!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • […] Mashed PotatoesCandied Yams with a Pecan Crumble ToppingCranberry Chutney with Candied Ginger Zucchini ‘Pasta’ with PestoWhole Wheat Vegetable Stuffing (Whole Wheat Bread loaded with sauteed veggies)Pumpkin Dinner […]

  • Zucchini “Noodles” with Pesto & Pine Nuts<-- interesting!

  • Zucchini “Noodles” with Pesto & Pine Nuts <-- wow I loved it! 🙂

  • Delicious! I’ve made this a few times now…the key is to barely cook the zucchini.

  • 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 🙂

  • This dish is going on my Thanksgiving menu! Thank you for the idea.

  • I wonder if these would hold up in a soup? Perhaps if I added them at the last minute? Gorgeous photos!

  • Great way to enjoy some fresh zucchini!

  • 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

  • What a wonderful side dish – I cannot wait to try this one!!

  • 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!

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