A light and fresh take on the classic pesto pasta dish. Made with half regular pasta and half spiralized zucchini, these zucchini noodles with pesto are quick, healthy and feature a delicious texture and silky sauce.
Table of contents
How to Make Zucchini Noodles with Pesto
The ingredient list is simple, featuring just zucchini, angel hair pasta, and pesto. With such a short ingredient list, the process has to be simple too!
- Toss spiralized zucchini with kosher salt and let stand in a colander set over a bowl (or in the sink). This salting process with draw out excess moisture from the zucchini, so make sure it's set over a bowl or in a sink.
- Cook regular pasta according to package directions in well-salted boiling water. (At least a tablespoon of salt should be added to the boiling water.)
- Drain pasta and reserve at least one cup of pasta cooking water. The starchy water will be used to adjust the sauce consistency.
- Using your hands, squeeze excess liquid out of the zucchini. When you think you've squeezed enough, squeeze a bit more.
- Toss cooked pasta and squeeze zucchini noodles together with pesto. Adjust sauce consistency by adding reserved pasta cooking water in ¼ cup increments.
Pesto: Fresh or Pre-Made
For this recipe you can use whatever pesto you prefer, whether that’s your favorite recipe or store-bought product. I always prefer homemade pesto but store-bought also works well. If you do purchase pre-made pesto, make sure you seek out the refrigerated variety, it’s much more flavorful than the jarred stuff.
My Go-To Basil Pesto
My favorite pesto recipe keeps things pretty classic and features pine nuts, fresh basil, Parmesan cheese, garlic and good olive oil. To up the flavor I add parsley and chives to the mix. The added herbs offers an additional freshness and makes this pesto versatile and adaptable.
Other Pestos to Try...
How to Spiralize Zucchini
There's more than one way to spiralize a zucchini, but the easiest and most effective is to use a countertop spiralizer.
Handheld spiralizers are wonderful in theory. They’re small, easy to store, and seem pretty convenient. Until you actually try to use it—they're not user-friendly and are rarely capable of spiralizing an entire zucchini.
This is my go-to spiralizer. It has a variety of noodle sized to choose from, there's little waste, and the process is quick and smooth. The attachment from Kitchenaid is also a great counterop choice.
Don't have a spiralizer? You can also make zoodles using a vegetable peeler. Run a vegetable peeler down the length of the zucchini squash, creating long thin ribbons. Then stack the ribbons and slice them into long strands, creating "spaghetti" or "linguine."
Can I Skip the Pasta and Only Use Zucchini?
Absolutely! I would double the zucchini if you choose to skip the pasta altogether.
- Top servings cherry tomatoes (I like to blister mine under the broiler briefly)
- Serve with additional grated Parmesan and red pepper flakes.
- Use linguine in place of the angel hair and spiralize the zucchini into thicker strands.
- Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice or a dash of fresh minced lemon zest for a bright pop.
Tips for the Best Pesto Zucchini Noodles
- Reserve pasta cooking water. Adding a few splashes of starchy pasta cooking water is a great way to create a thick, silky sauce.
- Squeeze the salted zucchini to release excess water. When you think you’ve squeezed enough, squeeze a bit more. The more water you get out of the zucchini, the thicker and silkier the sauce will be (it won’t get watered down).
What to Serve with Zucchini Noodles and Pesto
This pesto noodle dish is totally versatile and can be serve as a side dish, quick lunch, or base for dinner. Here are some of our favorite proteins to serve with these pesto noodles:
- Pan-seared chicken breast
- Pan-seared salmon
- Chicken meatballs
- Pan-seared scallops
- Sautéed mushrooms
- Browned chicken sausage
- Crispy tofu
- Sautéed shrimp or grilled shrimp
If you give these zucchini noodles with pesto a try, be sure to let me know what flavor you make! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @zestfulkitchen on Instagram. I love hearing about and seeing your ZK creations!Print
A light and healthy take on the classic pesto pasta. Featuring fresh spiralized zucchini, tender angel hair pasta, and a delicious homemade pesto. This dish can be served as a side dish or a main dish topped with your favorite protein.
- 1 ½ medium zucchini (or 2 small), spiralized
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 8 ounces angel hair pasta
- ½ cup Triple Herb Pesto or refrigerated pre-made pesto
Toss zucchini noodles with ½ teaspoon salt in a colander set over a bowl; let sit 15 minutes.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; season generously with salt, add angel hair pasta and cook until al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water; drain pasta. Add pasta back to now empty pot with ½ cup pesto.
Using your hands, squeeze zucchini noodles to release excess liquid. (When you think you’re done, squeeze a bit more.) Discard liquid and transfer zucchini noodles to pot with cooked pasta and pesto; gently toss to combine.
Adjust sauce consistency with reserved pasta water by ¼ cup increments as needed; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Store-Bought Pesto: If you’d rather use purchased pesto, seek out fresh refrigerated pesto as opposed to jarred pesto—it has much more flavor!
Gluten-free option: use gluten-free pasta or use all zucchini noodles instead of a combination of pasta and zucchini noodles.
Whole-grain option: use whole-wheat pasta in place of regular angel hair pasta.
- Serving Size: ⅕ of the recipe
- Calories: 179
- Sugar: 1.5g
- Sodium: 546mg
- Fat: 11g
- Saturated Fat: 1.5g
- Carbohydrates: 15g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 4g
- Cholesterol: 12mg
Keywords: pesto noodles, zucchini noodles with pesto