This 4 Ingredient Zucchini and Basil Pesto is a simple, refreshing blend of summer produce and classic Italian flavors. Use it to enliven pasta dishes, bruschettas, or salads, while making the most of your leftover zucchini. Quick to prepare, it’s an efficient way to enjoy a gourmet experience.
Ever found yourself with a surplus of zucchini at the tail end of summer? I’ve been there too, peering at the pile in the fridge, wondering how to use it all. Well, today we’ll be transforming our zucchini surplus into culinary gold!
Imagine a pasta that whispers to your taste buds with the freshness of summer – that’s our ‘4 Ingredient Zucchini and Basil Pesto’ pasta. It’s a dish that’s simultaneously simple and indulgent. It’s as if the Italian countryside has come to your kitchen!
We’re talking about beautiful, vibrant zucchini that pairs wonderfully with aromatic basil, creating a green symphony. There’s that nutty kick from almond flour, rounding off the flavours, and to top it all off, we’ve got a snowfall of grated parmesan!
What’s even better? The ingredients are ones you probably already have on hand, especially if you’ve been tending to a bountiful vegetable garden. It’s a chance to use what’s on hand to whip up something that’ll make your heart and your stomach happy.
Did I mention it’s speedy too? It’s perfect for those hot, busy days when you want something fresh, quick, and fuss-free.
A dish that calls for barefoot kitchen dancing as the summer breeze wafts through the window. It’s got the charm of an Italian summer afternoon, squeezed into your dinner plate.
So, let’s dive in and transform your leftover zucchini into a meal you’ll remember, shall we? It’s time to cook with love and create magic in the kitchen!
🥰 Why You Will Love This Recipe?
- This recipe is a champion when it comes to quick and efficient cooking. With only four ingredients and speedy prep time, it’s perfect for those evenings when you want a stunning meal without spending hours in the kitchen.
- Another reason to love this recipe is its simplicity. It’s a testament to how minimalist cooking can result in deep, complex flavors. You’re sure to fall in love with the way the basic ingredients transform into a delicious symphony on the plate.
- This is the perfect way to savor the summer’s bounty. Fresh basil and zucchini are quintessential summer ingredients that make this recipe a seasonal delight. It’s like a warm, sunny day, but on your plate!
- The zucchini and basil pesto is not just for pasta! It’s a versatile condiment that you can use as a spread on a sandwich, as a dip, or even a pizza base. The possibilities are endless, and people love the freedom to get creative.
- Zucchini and basil both carry substantial health benefits. Zucchini is packed with vitamins and minerals, and basil is a known antioxidant powerhouse. This recipe offers a delicious way to pack some nutrients into your meal.
- If you’re a champion of zero-waste cooking, this recipe is your perfect match. It shows you a delightful way to use leftover zucchini that might have otherwise ended up in the bin.
🥘 Ingredients and Substitutes
- Zucchini: The star of our dish, zucchini adds a delightful freshness and a delicate, slightly sweet flavor. Also, you can substitute the zucchini with yellow squash or eggplant. They’ll offer a similar texture and taste profile.
- Fresh Basil: The aromatic powerhouse of the dish, basil lends its peppery sweetness and slight mintiness to our pesto. If you don’t have fresh basil on hand, fresh spinach or even arugula can work as a replacement. They may alter the flavor profile slightly, but will still result in a delicious, green pesto.
- Grated Parmesan: The cornerstone of any good pesto, parmesan adds a delightful nuttiness and salty punch. If you’re looking to substitute parmesan, consider other hard, aged cheeses such as Grana Padano or Pecorino Romano. For a dairy-free option, nutritional yeast can lend a similar umami flavor.
- Almond Flour: Almond flour brings a subtle nutty flavor and helps create a creamier texture in our pesto. If you’re out of almond flour, you can use cashew or hazelnut meal. They’re excellent alternatives that maintain the creamy texture and nutty flavor of the pesto. If you’re nut-free, consider using sunflower seed meal. Remember, the nut or seed flavor will slightly influence the final taste of your pesto.
👩🍳 Step-by-step Directions
We’ll begin with the most difficult stage of this recipe. For that, you need to slightly sauté zucchini in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.
Quick Note: We’re doing that to enhance its flavor and extract some of its liquid.
For this, cut the zucchini into not-too-large cubes, put it in the pan along with the oil, and cook until it becomes “al dente”.
Remove the zucchini and let them cool down.
Pro Tip: If you will skip this step, the final meal will have an unappealing grey color, as high temperatures can alter the color of the basil.
Quick Note: If you have a sufficiently large chopper, you can add all the ingredients from the start and blend them all at once, and then simply adjust for salt to taste at the end.
Clean the basil thoroughly, dry it, and remove any overly tough stems, then put all the basil in a blender.
After that, we can start blending the basil and zucchini pesto.
Blend the basil a little bit to reduce its volume and make room for the rest of the ingredients.
Add the cooled zucchini over the basil.
Blend again for a little bit to mix the zucchini with the basil.
Add the almond flour and the grated parmesan.
Blend, taste, and adjust for salt if is needed. For a Mediterranean twist, I recommend adding also about 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
Blend one last time and the pesto is ready to be used.
Pro Tip: Of course, you can go further and to add other flavor notes to this classic recipe. I suggest you try the version with a bit of garlic or chili.
This pesto is ideal to be served on bruschetta, as a sauce for salads, and, of course, in the classic version as a pasta sauce.
🍽️ Serving Suggestions
- The Classic Pasta Lover: If you’re a traditionalist at heart, then simply tossing this vibrant pesto with freshly cooked pasta is an experience hard to beat. Imagine strands of spaghetti, tangled with our creamy, aromatic pesto, and topped with an extra sprinkle of parmesan. Pair it with a glass of crisp white wine and voila, a simple, elegant dinner is served!
- Summer Bruschetta: Now, let’s get a little more adventurous. How about a fresh, summer bruschetta? Toast slices of rustic bread till they’re golden and crisp. Smear a generous layer of our zucchini and basil pesto, then top it with ripe, diced tomatoes. Finish with a drizzle of good-quality extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of flaky sea salt. You’ve got yourself a mouthwatering appetizer that’s just bursting with summer flavors!
- The Veggie Pizza Reinvention: Fancy a pizza night with a twist? Use our pesto as a base for a stunning vegetable pizza. Spread it onto your pizza dough, top it with your favorite summer veggies – bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, olives, the works! A generous sprinkle of mozzarella, and into the oven it goes. What comes out is a fresh, veggie-packed pizza that’s leagues apart from the usual.
- Refreshing Pesto Salad: This zucchini and basil pesto also makes for a wonderful salad dressing! Drizzle it over a bowl of mixed greens, ripe cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, and crunchy croutons. Perhaps add a handful of grilled chicken or chickpeas for some protein. You’ll be left with a refreshing, hearty salad that’s perfect for a hot summer day.
🏆 Expert Tips. What to Pay Attention To?
- When dealing with zucchini, remember to choose those that feel heavy for their size and have vibrant, glossy skin. Fresh zucchini will provide the best flavor for our pesto. And remember, you don’t need to peel the zucchini! The skin adds a beautiful color and extra nutrients to our dish.
- When it comes to basil, freshness is your best friend. To check if your basil is fresh, gently rub a leaf between your fingers – it should release a strong, sweet aroma. If your basil seems a bit wilted, you can refresh it by submerging the leaves in a bowl of ice-cold water for a few minutes.
- With Parmesan, quality really matters. Invest in a block of good-quality Parmigiano Reggiano and grate it yourself. It’s more flavorful and melts better than pre-shredded varieties. And don’t forget to save the rind! It’s a secret flavor bomb in soups and sauces.
- When working with almond flour, keep in mind that it can turn rancid if stored improperly. Make sure your almond flour is stored in a cool, dry place, or even in the fridge for longer shelf life. A quick sniff will tell you if it’s good to go – it should smell sweet and nutty.
- Achieving the perfect pesto texture is all about balance. You want your pesto to be smooth, but with a bit of texture to it. Be careful not to over-process it into a completely smooth paste. You’re looking for that sweet spot where every spoonful has a bit of a bite!
🤔 Answering Your Questions:
How Do I Choose the Right Zucchini for This Recipe?
When picking out zucchini, opt for ones that are small to medium in size, as they tend to be less watery and more flavorful. They should feel heavy for their size and have a firm, glossy skin free of cuts and blemishes.
Can I Use Dried Basil Instead of Fresh Basil?
While dried basil can be used in many recipes, for this pesto, I highly recommend sticking to fresh basil. The vibrant flavor and aroma of fresh basil are key to capturing that classic pesto taste. If fresh basil is not available, fresh spinach or arugula could be used instead.
What’s the Best Way to Store the Pesto?
Store the pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To prevent it from browning, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top of the pesto before sealing the container. Properly stored, it should last up to a week. If you need to store it longer, pesto freezes beautifully! Simply portion it out in an ice cube tray, freeze, then transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag.
Can I Use Regular Flour Instead of Almond Flour?
Almond flour in this recipe not only thickens the pesto but also contributes to its unique flavor profile. If you’re nut-free, consider sunflower seed meal instead. Regular flour is not recommended as it may result in a starchy flavor and alter the texture of the pesto.
Can I Make This Recipe Vegan?
Absolutely! You can substitute the parmesan cheese with nutritional yeast to add a cheesy, umami flavor. You may also need to adjust the salt level, as nutritional yeast isn’t as salty as parmesan.
📋 Recipe Card:
4 Ingredient Zucchini and Basil Pesto
- 8 oz Zucchini
- 3 oz Basil Fresh
- ½ cup Parmesan Grated
- ¼ cup Almond Flour
- Cut the zucchini into cubes and cook on medium heat in a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil until they become al dente.
- Let the zucchini cool down well.
- Wash the basil and dry it thoroughly, and clean any too-thick stems.
- Put all the ingredients in a chopper and mix well.8 oz Zucchini, 3 oz Basil, ½ cup Parmesan, ¼ cup Almond Flour
- Taste, adjust for salt, and add about 3 tablespoons of olive oil for a Mediterranean flavor.
- Mix well once more, and it's ready to be served.
I highly recommend reading the entire recipe to find more tips and notes about this recipe. Read Full Recipe ⇑
- A splash of good quality extra virgin olive oil can enhance the texture and flavor of the pesto. Feel free to drizzle some in if you prefer a looser pesto.
- If you or someone you’re cooking for has a nut allergy, you can substitute the almond flour with sunflower seed meal or even rolled oats for a nut-free version.
- A squeeze of fresh lemon juice isn’t mandatory but can add a lovely brightness to the pesto. It also helps keep the vibrant green color of the basil.
- For those who like a bit of heat, adding a pinch of red pepper flakes to the pesto can give it a delightful kick. Adjust according to your preference.
- If you find yourself with leftover cooked pasta, don’t toss it out. You can mix it with some of this pesto, add a sprinkle of cheese and a few halved cherry tomatoes for a quick and satisfying cold pasta salad the next day!