Zucchini Almond Pesto

Zucchini Almond Pesto // Coffee & Quinoa

Reason #66 that I love pesto: You can make it out of just about anything.

Start with garlic, olive oil, parmesan, and some sort of nut, and you’re basically guaranteed a delicious and pesto-y-tasting outcome, no matter where the rest of the ingredient list takes you. It’s magical!

Zucchini Almond Pesto // Coffee & Quinoa

In case you’re wondering, reasons #1-65 that I love pesto involve the taste of garlic, olive oil, parmesan, and nuts, the fact that it can be spread on just about anything, that it reminds me of my childhood, that it’s quick to prepare, etc. etc. etc. Don’t make me list them out one by one!

For this pesto, I was actually considering making some sort of zucchini noodles, but ended up thinking it would be too much trouble. Instead, I opted to roast the zucchini, throw it in the blender with all those other wonderful pesto ingredients, and toss it with regular pasta. Ta-da! A quick and satisfying seasonal pasta dish that doesn’t involve me purchasing some sort of spiralizing equipment.

Speaking of which, can I get a quick opinion on zucchini spiralizers – worth buying one or not? I’m still considering it for next year, but have never tried zucchini noodles before in my life. What if, say, one is generally grossed out by the texture of raw summer squash? Are zucchini noodles still tasty? Guidance, please! And if you have a specific spiralizer (or julienne peeler!) that you recommend, links are appreciated. Although I guess I should try just making them with a regular peeler first, huh…

Zucchini Almond Pesto // Coffee & Quinoa

Anyway, back to the pesto. I chose almonds for the nuts in this version, mostly because that’s what I had on hand. I also added basil and parsley for that fresh, herb-y, pesto-y flavor, and lemon for a little brightness. The roasted zucchini flavor is mild, and to be honest, I’m not sure you would be able to tell that there’s zucchini in this pesto if you didn’t know beforehand. But it’s a great way to stretch all those other expensive pesto ingredients. Basil ain’t cheap! Unless you grow it yourself, that is… but we all know that I’ve killed any basil plant that has ever come under my care. In any case, zucchini is most definitely cheap, and the flavor, though mild, is a perfect match for the parmesan, olive oil, etc. If you think about it, those are the exact ingredients you’d put on roasted zucchini anyway. So just blend ‘em all up! Always a good idea.

Zucchini Almond Pesto // Coffee & Quinoa

You guys, the New England weather has been depressingly fall-like while I’ve been here. It is gray and raining as I type this, and has been downright chilly at night. I am not ready for this! Where is my Utah sun?! I hear the West Coast has been having a heat wave, so hopefully you’re all cool with zucchini and the other end-of-summer recipes that I have planned before we transition into pumpkin and sweet potatoes for the long haul. Because, if you’ve been reading since this past winter/spring, you know that once I get started with the sweet potatoes, there’s no going back. But I’m holding off for now! Today, zucchini, and Friday, something frosty and breakfast-y. Summerrrr please don’t go!

Zucchini Almond Pesto // Coffee & Quinoa

5.0 from 1 reviews
Zucchini Almond Pesto
Hands-on time
Cook time
Total time
Yields: 1 1/2 cups pesto
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 small zucchini, trimmed and halved
  • 2 small cloves garlic, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, stems trimmed off
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425. Use the preheating oven to lightly toast the almonds. About 6 minutes should do the trick, but this will depend on how fast your oven preheats. Check them often!
  2. Place zucchini cut-side-down on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 20-25 minutes.
  3. Place garlic cloves in the bowl of your blender or food processor and pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add zucchini, basil, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice, and process until combined. Add in the toasted almonds and parmesan cheese and process until your desired texture is reached. Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary; pulse to combine.
  4. Serve atop pasta or however else you like to use your pesto! Pack leftover pesto into a small dish and press plastic wrap down over the top; leftovers will keep this way for several days. Enjoy!
Adapted from Rachael Ray.


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  1. sara @ Fitcupcaker says

    this looks divine! I absolutely love pesto but dont make it enough on my own! You have inspired me and I need to write it down so I dont forget to make it!

  2. says

    Holy mackerel! Just when I thought the buck stopped at kale pesto, you give me zucchini and almond pesto! I’m so thrilled to try this recipe out – it looks sooo scrumptious smothered all up on pasta shells!

  3. says

    Get a spirilizer! It’s my new favorite kitchen tool. Especially if you receive a lot of zucchini in your CSA! I also have used mine to make noodles out of sweet potatoes. Amazing. Best 30 bucks you’ll spend. Did I convince you?!

  4. Rosalie says

    I have a spiralizer and adore the thing, but honestly don’t make zucchini noodles that much with it! They taste kind of bland to me and can get watery >:|
    However, I spiralize beets, turnips, carrots, rutabaga, winter squash etc., steam them in the microwave for a few minutes, and top them with whatever my heart desires. Fabulous.
    Current favourites: turnip noodles, tofu, green onions, and a miso-tahini-rice vinegar sauce + sriracha; carrot noodles, steamed fish, cilantro and thai basil, and a coconut green curry sauce.

  5. says

    I have to agree, pesto is pretty awesome. Almonds and zucchini sound like a great combo and it looks delicious all over those shells. Mmmm…pasta. :)

    I have been thinking about getting a spiralizer too but I’m in the same boat as you- I’ve never tried it before. I saw one on Open Sky that looked good but I haven’t purchased it yet. Let us know if you end up getting one!

  6. says

    This looks delicious AND simple, which is why I will be making this. Me and simple recipes get along very well. I’ve only made pesto one another time, semi-recently actually, and I was pleased to know you really only need any form of those 4 ingredients. So yumz

  7. says

    You know I’ve actually been craving pesto lately but every time I’ve made it, I just haven’t enjoyed it! I need to find the right recipe and this one looks really good! There’s an Italian restaurant near me that makes this whipped pesto dip that they serve with their bread at the beginning of the meal. It’s light and airy and just heavenly!

  8. says

    YES, pesto is one of the greatest foods ever — soo simple and somehow it always ends up delicious. especially if you pour it all over perfectly al dente white pasta ;) love love the idea of using zucchini and almonds. this looks soo delicious and comforting!

  9. says

    This looks like comfort food to me! I LOVE this idea (and a way for my “I-don’t-like-zucchini” kid to eat some!)! My husband and I love all things zucchini, and I think this is such a cool spin on another fave – pesto! Totally a win/win for me!!
    Pinned!! :)

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