Tender and subtly crunchy zoodles are definitely made to be paired with this heavenly pesto sauce.
It’s a zoodles kind of day! The snow is finally beginning to melt outside, and I’m celebrating with a warm bowl of freshly cooked spiraled zucchini noodles topped with the creamiest basil and pistachio pesto sauce.
Ever since my kids gifted me with a Paderno 4 Blade Spiralizer last year, zoodles have become my family’s new favorite food. This handy gadget lets you turn vegetables into noodle-like ribbon strands. We’ve had fun updating many pasta dishes with zucchini: zoodles with meatballs, zoodles with Bolognese sauce, and zoodles with clam sauce. Today, I decided to try a completely vegetarian option (that’s also gluten-free and paleo!). Here’s my zoodles twist on the classic Pesto alla Genovese pasta dish.
The pesto sauce begins with the freshest basil, an herb with a unique, pungent scent and a sweet, aromatic, peppery flavor. Basil comes from a Greek word that means king, and basil is definitely the most important ingredient in this sauce.
In Genoese, the word pesto means to crush. Traditionally, the sauce was prepared with a mortar and pestle, which the cook used to grind all of the ingredients together until they made a paste. I, however, decided it would be much easier to use my food processor fitted with a large chopping blade. If you’re looking for a reliable food processor, I recommend this model by Cuisinart.
To make the sauce, I first used a fork to crush three cloves of garlic and a little bit of salt together in a small dish. Then, I tossed the garlic, basil, parsley, and pepper into the food processor, and processed the ingredients until the mixture had a paste-like consistency. Pesto sauce is often made with pine nuts, but I decided to use unsalted, shelled pistachio nuts instead as an economical and tasty alternative (If you are concerned about nuts manufactured on shared equipment with gluten containing products, Nuts.com prominently labels which products of theirs are certified gluten-free). With the food processor covered and the motor running, I added the nuts and grated Parmesan cheese through the small feed tube. Finally, while continuing to run the motor, I poured in the oil in a slow steady stream, thickening the mixture. So quick and effortless to make, and this beautiful green sauce is ready!
Now it’s time for the fun part: making the zoodles. For the easiest way to make zoodles, I recommend using a spiralizer like mine from Paderno World Cuisine. As I’ve noted in other zoodle posts, we usually find that long and fat zucchini make the best zoodles, and it is also important to keep the zucchini centered inside the spiralizer when slicing them.
To make sure your zoodles don’t end up soggy, place them in a colander and toss with the salt until coated. Then put the colander in a shallow bowl for 20 – 30 minutes while the zoodles release their moisture, after which pat dry with paper towels. To cook the zoodles, I heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, and then add three cloves of chopped garlic and cook until fragrant. Next, I toss in the zoodles and cook for about three minutes. Then, I let the zoodles sit for a few minutes to allow any excess water to be released. I drain them again, and they’re ready to serve.
These beautiful green zucchini noodles, tender and subtly crunchy, were definitely made to be paired with this heavenly pesto sauce.
This is our easiest zoodles recipe yet and one of our healthiest and most delicious too. You can serve it as the main course or even as a vegetable side. For pasta lovers on paleo and gluten-free diets, this is an undeniable treat. Enjoy!
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Zoodles (Zucchini Noodles) with Basil and Pistachio Pesto
- For Zoodles
- 6 medium zucchinis
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- For Basil Pesto
- 2 teaspoons garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups basil leaves lightly packed
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
- 1 ⁄3 cup pistachio nuts unsalted and shelled
- 1 ⁄2 cup parmesan cheese grated
- 1 ⁄4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- *if you are concerned about nuts manufactured on shared equipment with gluten containing products Nuts.com prominently labels which products of theirs are certified gluten-free.
- Cut zucchini into zoodles using a spiralizer. Place the spiralized zucchini in a colander and toss with the salt until coated. Place colander in a shallow bowl for 20 - 30 minutes while zoodles release their moisture, then pat dry with paper towels.
- Meanwhile Prepare Basil Pesto: Mash the garlic and salt together in a small dish. Place in the bowl of your food processor fitted with the large chopping blade. Add the basil, parsley, and pepper. Secure the cover. Process until the mixture has a paste-like consistency, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula if necessary. Cover. Now with the motor running, add the nuts and parmesan through the small feed tube. Finally while continuing to run the motor, add the oil in a slow steady stream, thickening the mixture.
- Cook Zoodles: When the zoodles are ready to cook, pat them with paper towels. Then heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add zoodles (zucchini), and cook about 2 minutes. Stir and cook for one more minute. Then let the zoodles sit for a few minutes to allow any excess water to be released, drain. Transfer to a bowl.
- Top drained zoodles with basil pesto sauce and gently toss. Serve immediately.