Zucchini is one of my all-time favorite vegetables and it's safe to say that this item is always in my refrigerator. Besides being a good source of dietary fiber, antioxidant vitamin-C and vitamin-A, zucchini is also very versatile. It can be roasted in the oven, sautéed in a pan, steamed or even eaten raw!
Growing up in Germany, we would regularly go to authentic Italian restaurants and my dish of choice was pretty much always Tortellini with pesto. My mother used to tell me that pesto was healthy and a better option than tomato sauce, so naturally when I moved out on my own and attended college, I was eating Buitoni's 3-cheese Tortellini with a store bought pesto sauce at least 3 times a week. Thinking back on what my mother used to tell me, I thought I was making a smarter, healthier choice - I was wrong and the fact that my stomach always hurt after eating this meal should have been a warning sign. Another big mistake I used to make is not reading the nutritional facts of the items I was buying...what was I thinking?? Anywho...now that I am aware of how much oil and sodium they pack into those jarred pesto sauces I am making my own and never looking back!
Start by using a julienne peeler, vegetable peeler or a spiralizer (oh you fancy!) to make zucchini spaghetti or ribbons. I love peeling my zucchini into long, thin ribbons, it reminds me of eating pappardelle but for this recipe I am sticking to the spaghetti look as it holds on to more of the pesto sauce.
Next, make the pesto. Add the basil, spinach, pumpkin seeds, chopped garlic, and the juice of half a lemon into a food processor. Blend until combined. If you own a large food processor add the extra virgin olive oil slowly while it is running. I only own a small cuisinart where removing the top to add an ingredient is required, if that is the case, add the oil in 3 batches at a time. Similar to a salad dressing recipe, adding the oil slowly ensures that it is well incorporated. Now, add the parmesan cheese and pulse a few times. Before you add salt, give it a taste to see if you need it. To make this a vegan pesto, substitute the cheese for nutritional yeast, also known as the vegan's cheese!
Toss the zucchini spaghetti with 1 to 2 tbsp of the pesto per serving...and yes, you will have left over pesto that you can use with real pasta or spread onto some bread...the possibilities are endless! Store your pesto in the fridge for up to 5 days.
As I always try to add color to my dish, I am topping this zucchini spaghetti pesto with raw cherry tomatoes and some more pumpkin seeds and cheese. Hope you enjoy!