Zucchini Basil Pesto

Zucchini Basil Pesto

More than my fair shade of zucchini are still miraculously making their way home with me from the Farmers Market.  I tell myself I don’t need any more zucchini, and yet they are always in my crisper.  I have issues…  Not only do I have an overabundance of zucchini, 3 of my basil plants (when I saw that my first plant was doing superb, I got greedy and ordered asked the Hungryman to plant 2 more ;)) have been in a desperate need of pruning.

BasilNaturally, the zucchini and basil combination has been a regular around here bc no veggies get left behind.  I made Zucchini Basil Frittata earlier.  If you are looking for a quick breakfast/brunch idea w/5 ingredients, you’ll love the recipe.  This time, I put a twist on the classic pesto recipe… You know what’s coming, don’t you?  Zucchini Basil Pesto!

ZucchiniFirst, I scooped out the zucchini seeds with a spoon and steamed the sliced halves for about 5 minutes.  Be sure to cool them completely before adding to a blender or food processor.  You can’t really taste the zucchini like you would if you added kale, mint, etc, but it sure adds smoothness and makes the sauce a bit thinner than what I’m used to, thanks to its high water content.  I embraced this as it allowed me to cut back on the amount of olive oil I had to use.  While it’s an excellent source of monounsaturated fat or the “good” fat, it’s still high in calories.

Zucchini Basil Pesto Ingredients

I know it’s super tempting to skip the step of roasting the almonds, but don’t give in!  You want that extra nutty and complex flavor it adds to the sauce, especially since the zucchini is so mild.  I used almonds because I always have a bulk batch, which I purchase from Costo, stored in the freezer for easy snacking and because they are cheaper than pine nuts.  Feel free to substitute with whatever calls out your name.  The first time I made this, I wished I had added lemon zest to intensify its citrusy note.  So this time I did, and it was fabulous.

Zucchini Basil Pesto

This pesto does taste a bit more “watery” than traditional ones so I suggest sampling it after you’ve blended it so you can add more parmesan cheese to your liking and/or have it on hand to grate as much on top as you need.

Zucchini Basil Pesto

This Zucchini Basil Pesto not only tasted amazing tossed in with some pasta, but I could picture myself enjoying it on top of a mild fish like halibut or spreading it generously on a hearty slice of bread to be made into a sandwich or crostini.  All the possibilities excite me ;).  Now what to do with the rest of the zucchini….

Zucchini Basil Pesto

Zucchini Basil Pesto
Prep time
Total time
Serves: 2 cups
  • 1 Ib (about 2 small) zucchini
  • 2 cups loosely packed basil
  • ¼ cup roasted almonds (or nut of choice)
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to season
  1. Zucchini: Halve zucchini and scoop out seeds using a spoon. Steam for about 5-7 min.
  2. Add zucchini, roasted almonds, basil, garlic, lemon juice to food processor or blender. Add cheese and process until coarsely chopped. With machine running, stream in oil and process until pesto is thoroughly pureed. If you like your pesto thinner, add a bit more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Use right away or store in refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.
Calories: 245 Total Fat: 23.1g Saturated Fat: 4.7g Cholesterol: 10mg Sodium: 143mg Total Carbs: 6g Fiber: 2g Sugars: 2.1g Protein 7.5g


What are some nontraditional pestos you’ve made or tried?


Lovely comments

    • says

      Pistachios? Now that I’ve never tried. Walnuts, pine nuts, almonds are the only ones I’ve tried adding to pesto. I must try soon…

    • says

      Thank you so much, Meghan. I never ever imagined in a million years that I would fall madly in love with food photography. I wish I could snap pictures all day long…one can dream 😉

  1. says

    Min, I love the use of zucchini in the pesto. I have been using carrot tops in mine lately. I have a few zucchini plants with squash on it. I’ll have to give this a try. Plus my lemon basil plants went to seed and now I have a plethora of plants. :) Thanks for sharing this recipe with us during Our Little Family Adventure’s Facebook Community Party.

    • says

      Ooh! Carrot tops? Now that’s super creative! Haha it seems like we are faced with a similar dilemma. I can’t keep up with the growth of my basil plants. Thank you so much, Nicky, for hosting and sharing my recipes. I truly appreciate it! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  2. says

    Ok, kinda jealous. My basil plant this year is just pathetic, I’m so sad. Last it was awesome but not some much this year. I have never made a zucchini pesto before but it sounds awesome, pinning and definitely trying. {i am starting to get a long list of things to try from you} Thanks for sharing at Show Stopper Saturdays!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: