Looking for a simple low carb meal idea that can be whipped up in 15 minutes or less? Look no further. This Vegan Zucchini Noodles with Pesto Recipe is so easy to make and is packed full of wholesome nutritious ingredients. Serve it with my favourite Vegan Pesto with Hemp for a dairy-free, grain-free meal.
Zucchini needs no introduction these long summer days. Gardens are overflowing with this veg and summer squash recipes are filling up my Pinterest feed. I’ve previously 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. Another zucchini recipe to add to the repertoire, this simple recipe for Vegan Zucchini Noodles with Pesto is quick and light and perfect for these hot summer days.
“Zucchini, like other summer squash, is native to North America. This group of vegetables is well recognized for its high value of carotenoids.”
Why I Made This Vegan Zucchini Noodles with Pesto
Health Benefits of Zucchini
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.
Eating The Zucchini Skin
The skin of the zucchini contains up to 10x more of the carotenoid antioxidant group; is best to purchase organic to avoid unwanted potential contaminants that can settle in the skin. Making zucchini noodles is a great way to make sure you are eating the healthiest part of the zucchini.
A Low Carb Zucchini Noodle Recipe
This recipe is great for those looking for a low-carb meal option. Whether it be for blood sugar regulation, following a certain style of eating, or you just want a lower carb meal option for later in the evening, zucchini noodles are a great lower carbohydrate pasta alternative.
Making a Vegan Pesto Recipe
I love using miso in my pesto in place of parmesan cheese which also offers that distinct umami flavour. Not only is it great for those looking for a dairy-free alternative, miso offers an array of beneficial bacteria that can contribute to a healthy gut – see my post 5 Tips On How To Improve Gut Health Naturally – Prebiotics, Probiotics and Fermented Foods) for more information.
Tips On Making This Vegan Zucchini Noodles with Pesto Recipe
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 Make Zucchini Noodles
The easiest way to make zucchini noodles is to use a handheld spiralizer. These are inexpensive and can be purchased from most home goods stores. If you do not have one, a mandolin slicer set on the julienne setting will work as well.
How To Cook Spiralized Zucchini Noodles
Spiralized zucchini noodles do not need to be cooked. Simply heat the zucchini noodles in the dish right before serving, making sure not to let them cook for too long. This ensures that they retain their firm texture and don’t release too much liquid into the dish.
Alternatives to Zucchini Noodles
This recipe can be made out of season using black bean noodles, or traditional pasta. Simply cook the pasta until al dente before adding it to the cooked tomatoes.
Variations For This Vegan Zucchini Noodles with Pesto Recipe
Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Pesto
Try blending one ripe avocado, skin and pit removed, in with the Vegan Pesto ingredients. Additional water or olive oil may be required to achieve the desired consistency.
Zucchini Noodle Salad
To make a zucchini noodle salad recipe, do not cook the tomatoes or heat the zucchini noodles. Simply combined the fresh cherry tomatoes, thyme, olive oil, fresh minced garlic and pesto in a bowl with the spiralized zucchini noodles and serve.
Zucchini Pesto Recipe
Have an abundance of zucchini? Blend 1/2 cup of chopped zucchini into the Vegan Pesto Recipe for a zucchini pesto that can be added to your spiralized zucchini noodles.
Notes For Making This Vegan Zucchini Noodles with Pesto Recipe
Make It Gluten-Free
This dish is naturally gluten-free. Just ensure that you use gluten-free miso as often miso can be made using fermented barley.
How To Store It
This recipe is best served fresh as the zucchini noodles will release more liquid when reheated. If you are planning on making this dish for leftovers, keep the zucchini noodles separate from the tomato mix and reheat them separately for leftovers, heating the zucchini noodles only slightly – or even better have them raw!
Want Some More Zucchini Recipes?
When zucchini is in season it is plentiful! Here are some of my other favourite ways to enjoy zucchini:
- Try this low carb Zucchini Noodle Lasagna,
- My favourite Crustless Vegetable Quiche with Zucchini which also great for kids,
- Or this favourite Berry Cauliflower and Zucchini Smoothie Bowl for breakfast
Vegan Zucchini Noodles with Pesto Recipe
- 4 medium zucchini
- 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 salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper ground
- Vegan Pesto see recipe
- fresh basil leaves optional
- To prepare the zucchini noodles, start by slicing off the ends of the zucchini. Using a food spiralizer make the 'noodles' by twisting the entire zucchini through the device. 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 vegan pesto as per recipe instructions (above).
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat and add the oil. Add the halved tomatoes, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Let cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the zucchini noodles and vegan pesto to the frying pan and mix gently. There is no need to cook the noodles as this will result in excess water being released from the zucchini. Simply heat the noodles and pesto in the frying pan and gently mix all of the ingredients together. 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.
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Rachel Dickens is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University and is currently a PhD student at UBC. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on Indigenous Food Sovereignty while sharing diabetes-friendly recipes and tips for diabetes prevention.