Spiralized zoodles are smothered in homemade pesto and topped with juicy heirloom tomatoes and a hint of spice. This pesto zucchini pasta (also known as courgette pesto pasta) is wholesome, delicious, and ready in no time!
This recipe was originally published in June 2018. It has been updated for content and photos.
Zucchini (also known as summer squash) is best enjoyed in hotter months when in season. BUT, most grocery stores will carry it all year long.
This simple weeknight dinner is bursting with flavour, yet, doesn’t require a boatload of ingredients!
Why you’ll love these zoodles
- Wholesome: You really can’t go wrong with vegetables that get smothered in more vegetables. Am I right? 😉
- Low calories: Not only is this zucchini pesto pasta loaded with nutrients, but it’s very low in calories and virtually fat-free! That makes these perfect for a healthy diet.
- Delicious: Truly, these noodles are so satisfying and tasty! The texture is firm, like ‘al dente’ pasta, with no soggy or mushy noodles here.
- Gluten-free: This is a natural way to enjoy gluten-free “pasta”! With the added bonus of being low-carb (the less wholesome type of carbs, that is). Carbs from vegetables and whole grains are GOOD for you! So don’t be scared of the carb content in this pesto zucchini pasta. 🙂
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Zucchini: Choose zucchini that are narrow and long, with relatively even thickness from top to bottom for ease of spiralizing. The skin should be dark green, smooth, and blemish-free for optimum freshness.
- NOTE: You may also purchase pre spiralized veggies from your supermarket to make this quick dinner even faster.
- Tomatoes: I like heirloom grape tomatoes for this dish, but any tomatoes will do. If using cherry tomatoes or grape, halve them. If using larger tomatoes, dice them into bite-sized pieces.
- Red pepper flakes: Optional to add a touch of heat to the dish. You may reduce, increase or omit, to your taste.
- Pesto: I’m using my homemade oil free basil pesto with lemon juice. But you may use any of your favourite pesto recipes, or even store-bought for this zucchini pesto pasta.
(This is a summary with step by step photos, full recipe measurements and instructions are in the recipe card below.)
Spiralize your zucchini and place them in a colander inside a large bowl and generously sprinkle the zoodles with salt. Set aside for 20 minutes. (photo 1)
NOTE: The salt will reduce your zucchini pasta and force the extra water out, preventing soggy noodles later. Do not skip this step.
Heat the pesto in a large skillet. (photo 2)
Then add the spiralized zucchini noodles and pepper flakes (if using) and sauté for 2-4 minutes to heat them through, without overcooking. (photo 3)
Turn off the heat, add the tomatoes and toss. (photo 4)
Serve your pesto zucchini pasta with extra pepper flakes, vegan parmesan cheese, and fresh herbs like chives or fresh basil leaves, and enjoy!
Alfredo zucchini pasta: Heat this simple dairy free Alfredo sauce in the pan and gently sauté your noodles in it.
Make it Bolognese: Skip the pesto and opt for this vegan Bolognese sauce instead.
Make it nutty! Add some toasted slivered or sliced almonds, or toasted pine nuts on top.
Not feeling zucchini? Try this dish with spiralized sweet potato, beets, carrots, butternut squash, or broccoli.
Or give our sweet potato spaghetti aglio e olio a try!
Your zucchini pasta can be prepared in advance. Spiralize the noodles up to 3 days before salting and cooking and store them in a sealed container or zip-top bag in your fridge.
Once cooked, leftovers keep refrigerated for 3-4 days in a sealed container. Reheat on the stovetop, but be careful not to overcook.
I don’t recommend freezing leftovers as the noodles will get soggy once frozen and thawed.
I highly recommend using a spiralizer (affiliate link) to make your vegetable noodles. If you don’t have one already, I cannot recommend this tool enough. Especially if healthy eating is your goal. It’s a fun way to make delicious and satisfying meals that are low in calories and wholesome.
Although you CAN use a mandolin to make noodles from veggies, (I used to do this) it’s not only more time-consuming but, you’ll need to use extreme caution to prevent cutting your hands. I don’t really recommend this route, and that is my honest opinion based on years of spiralizing.
- For ease of spiralizing, use zucchini that are narrow, long, and straight. Or you may purchase pre-spiralized zucchini noodles from your grocery store to save time.
- Don’t skip the salting! This step is important to prevent watery noodles after cooking. You want to reduce the zucchini to remove excess moisture.
- Do NOT overcook the noodles. You want the noodles tender but crisp, and not overly soft, for the best texture and to mimic ‘al dente’ pasta.
- For less spice, reduce the red pepper flakes by half, or adjust to your taste.
More delicious zucchini recipes
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- 4 large zucchini narrow and long
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup homemade pesto or store bought
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1 cup grape tomatoes halved
For Garnish (Optional)
- more red pepper flakes
- fresh chives, parsley or basil
- vegan parmesan cheese
- Spiralize your zucchini and place them in a large colander in your kitchen sink or a large bowl. Sprinkle with the salt to force excess moisture to release. Set aside for at least 20 minutes. You will notice the zucchini will reduce which will prevent watery noodles later.
- Heat the pesto over medium high heat, in a large skillet, and then add the spiralized zucchini and red pepper flakes, if using. Sauté the noodles for 2-4 minutes until heated through, but do not overcook.
- Turn off the heat and add the tomatoes, mix, and serve with extra red pepper flakes, fresh herbs, or parmesan cheese, if desired.