Zucchini Noodles with Spinach Pesto

I first discovered the pasta-emulating power of zucchini when I attempted to go on the Zone diet in college. You know, the one made famous in the late 90s by Jennifer Anniston that requires you keep a strict carbohydrate/protein/fat ratio? If you think reading ingredient labels while on the lookout for gluten is tough, try planning meals around counting “food blocks,” as it was called. Sure, I lost weight fast, but I’m pretty sure it was from eventually realizing it was easier to just not eat! Not to mention, I don’t think any college kid can actually afford to follow a celebrity diet, let alone one that involved.

But I did discover a few life-altering tricks during my short-lived time in the Zone, like how to use zucchini for lasagna noodles (in fact, I still have that zone lasagna recipe, which I just might have to dig out for you all soon; it was pretty darn good!). In recent years, I’ve enjoyed a few meals at restaurants that used zucchini for spaghetti noodles. I assumed this was impossible without a fancy gadget, which I’m banned from buying unless I throw something out first (yup, any time you see a recipe on here that requires a food processor, just imagine me making it in 3-4 painfully time-consuming batches with my micro processor for this very reason). But then I stumbled upon this awesome tip. A fellow lazy cook with a most-valuable idea. But alas, I don’t even have a box grater (and don’t think stupid me didn’t try to use a regular fine cheese grater. Let me spare you the trouble—it won’t work). Luckily, I stumbled upon another great zucchini-slicing secret: Use your vegetable peeler. Now I was in business.

Whichever way you slice your zucchini pasta, I just hope you enjoy.

Zucchini Noodles with Spinach Pesto

Serves 4
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour
Allergy Egg, Fish, Peanuts, Shellfish, Soy, Wheat
Dietary Gluten Free, Vegetarian
Meal type Main Dish


  • 2 cups chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyère
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ripe zucchini
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds


Adapted from this recipe.

Tip: This recipe doesn't keep well. I'd advise storing the noodles and the pesto sauce separate. Then before serving, drain the noodles well, mix with the pesto, and top with the extra cheese and sunflower seeds.


Step 1
Combine the spinach, pine nuts, garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor. Pulse until items are broken down into small pieces. Add the gruyère and pulse again.
Spinach Pesto with Gruyere Cheese
Step 2
Slowly add in the oil until you have a rich, green pesto. How much you need will really depend on your preference. I wanted mine closer to a paste than a runny dressing.
Spinach Pesto with Pine Nuts and Gruyere Cheese
Step 3
Using a vegetable peeler, grate long, even strips of the zucchinis until you have reached the center and cannot peal anymore.
Zucchini Noodles
Step 4
Toss the zucchini noodles so they are all separated. Add a couple of tablespoons of pesto into the noodles and toss them together. If you want more pesto, add a tablespoon at a time. You don’t want to overpower the zucchini. When you have dressed the noodles to your liking, top with the grated Parmesan reggiano and sunflower seeds. Enjoy!
Zucchini Noodles with Spinach Pesto topped with Parmigiano-Reggiano

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