Zucchini needs no introduction these long summer days. Gardens are spilling with this veg, and my Pinterest feed is filled with various ways to prepare summer squash. In the past I’ve shared my Zucchini Noodle Lasagna, my Crustless Vegetable Quiche with Zucchini, and more recently, a far more edgy way to use zucchini in this Berry Cauliflower and Zucchini Smoothie Bowl. This simple recipe for Zucchini Noodles with Tomatoes and Hemp Pesto is quick and light and perfect for these hot days, and dinner can be on the table in less than 15 minutes.
“Zucchini, like other summer squash, is native to North America. This group of vegetables is well recognized for its high value of carotenoids.”
Zucchini, like other summer squash, contains large amounts of the phytonutrient group of carotenoids. This includes lutein, zeaxanthin which are taken up by the retina and are important for eye health, as well as beta-cryptoxanthin and beta-carotene which are converted into Vitamin A. Zucchini, alongside patty pan, yellow straightneck, and yellow crookneck are some of the best sources of carotenoids in this category. The skin contains up to 10x more of this antioxidant group; is best to purchase organic to avoid unwanted potential contaminants that can settle in the skin.
Storage and Selection of Zucchini
Unlike winter squash, which thanks to its thick skin can be stored for long periods of time, zucchini should be stored in the refrigerator for no longer than a week after purchase. Carotenoids, alongside other nutrients found in zucchini, are sensitive to exposure to air, light, heat, and length of time in storage. Their loss can be slowed down by keeping them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
How To Enjoy This Zucchini Noodle Recipe
The easiest way to make zucchini noodles is to use a handheld spiralizer. If you do not have one, a mandolin slicer set on the julienne setting will work too. This recipe can be made out of season using black bean noodles, or traditional pasta. I’ve adapted it from the Love and Lemons Cookbook to make it grain free and served it with this Vegan Hemp Pesto. It also tastes great with just some torn fresh basil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese, or try nutritional yeast for a vegan version.
Zucchini Noodles with Summer Tomatoes and Hemp Pesto
- 4 medium zucchinis
- 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tsp thyme dry (or 1 tbsp fresh)
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper ground
- Hemp Pesto see recipe link
- fresh basil leaves optional
- Prepare the zucchini noodles by slicing off the ends of the zucchini and using a food spiralizer to make the 'noodles'. Once you have spiralized all of the zucchini, use a knife to make one cut down the pile of noodles so you don't end up with extremely long noodles. Set aside.
- Prepare the hemp pesto as per recipe instructions (above).
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the oil. Add tomatoes, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Let cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the zucchini noodles and hemp pesto to the frying pan and mix gently. There is no need to cook the noodles, simple heat them in the frying pan. This should take only 1-2 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
No pesto: Add parmesan cheese before serving, or nutritional yeast for a vegan version.
No basil: Try a cilantro pesto, or arugula or kale works too.
No zucchini: Try using black bean noodles, or traditional pasta if not gluten free.
Rachel Dickens, The Conscious Dietitian, is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on plant-based nutrition, and share some of her favourite seasonal recipes and sustainable eating tips.