When the sun shines brightly and the air is warm, nothing beats a refreshing and healthy summer dinner. Zucchini Noodles with Pesto is the perfect dish to satisfy your cravings while keeping your meal light and nutritious. By replacing traditional pasta with zucchini noodles, you’ll enjoy a gluten-free and low-carb alternative that won’t weigh you down.
Tossed with a dairy-free pesto made with fragrant basil, garlic, pine nuts, and olive oil, this dish bursts with flavors and colors. To add a delightful crunch and bursts of freshness, we top it off with juicy cherry tomatoes and sliced almonds. Get ready to indulge in a vibrant and flavorful culinary experience that celebrates the abundance of summer produce.
Why Zucchini Noodles with Pesto are the Best Choice for Healthy Summer Dinner Recipes (Dairy-Free)
Zucchini noodles offer a myriad of health benefits, making them an excellent choice for a wholesome summer meal. Here’s why this dish stands out:
- Low-Calorie and Nutrient-Dense: Zucchini is incredibly low in calories but packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It provides a satisfying crunch while contributing to your daily nutrient requirements.
- Gluten-Free and Low-Carb: By replacing traditional pasta with zucchini noodles, you eliminate gluten and reduce your carbohydrate intake, making this dish suitable for those with dietary restrictions or following a low-carb lifestyle.
- Dairy-Free Pesto: Traditional pesto recipes often contain cheese, making them unsuitable for individuals with dairy allergies or those following a vegan or lactose-free diet. Our pesto recipe swaps cheese for nutritious pine nuts, offering a creamy and flavorful sauce without the dairy.
Cook Time and Servings
- Preparation and cooking Time: 15-20 minutes
- Servings: 4
How to Make Zucchini Noodles with Pesto
- 4 medium-sized zucchinis
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- Start by preparing the zucchini noodles. Wash the zucchinis thoroughly and trim off the ends. Using a spiralizer, create long, noodle-like strands from the zucchinis. Place the zucchini noodles in a large bowl and set aside.
- Next, it’s time to make the pesto. In a food processor or blender, combine the fresh basil leaves, garlic cloves, pine nuts, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse the mixture a few times to chop the ingredients.
- While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil. Continue blending until the ingredients are well combined and the pesto has a smooth consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides of the processor bowl with a spatula to ensure all the ingredients are incorporated.
- Taste the pesto and adjust the seasoning if needed. Add more salt, pepper, or even a squeeze of lemon juice for additional flavor.
- Pour the freshly prepared pesto over the zucchini noodles in the bowl. Gently toss the noodles with the pesto, ensuring that each strand is coated evenly.
- Once the zucchini noodles are coated with pesto, add the cherry tomato halves and sliced almonds to the bowl. Gently mix them into the noodles, distributing them throughout the dish.
- At this point, the zucchini noodles with pesto are ready to be served. Transfer them to individual plates or a serving platter.
- If desired, garnish with a few extra basil leaves for an added touch of freshness and presentation.
- Serve the zucchini noodles immediately, while they are still crisp and flavorful. Enjoy the vibrant colors and refreshing flavors of this summer-inspired dish.
By following these detailed instructions, you’ll be able to create zucchini noodles with pesto that are visually appealing, bursting with flavor, and easy to prepare. It’s a light and healthy option that can be enjoyed as a main course or as a side dish alongside grilled proteins or other summer favorites.
- To prevent the zucchini noodles from becoming watery, lightly salt them and let them sit in a colander for 10-15 minutes before using. Then, pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel.
- If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can use a julienne peeler or a mandoline slicer to create zucchini noodles. Alternatively, some grocery stores offer pre-packaged zucchini noodles for convenience.
- Customize the pesto to your taste by adding a squeeze of lemon juice for a tangy twist or a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a hint of spice.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Can I make zucchini noodles ahead of time?
Yes, you can spiralize the zucchini noodles in advance and store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. However, it’s best to prepare the pesto and add the toppings just before serving to maintain freshness and texture.
Can I use a different type of nut for the pesto?
While pine nuts are traditional, you can experiment with other nuts like almonds, walnuts, or even cashews to create your own unique flavor profile.
Can I use a different type of oil instead of olive oil?
Yes, you can substitute olive oil with avocado oil, walnut oil, or even a light vegetable oil of your choice. Each oil will bring its own distinct flavor, so choose based on your preferences.
Can I add protein to this dish?
Grilled chicken, shrimp, or tofu can be excellent additions to make the dish more substantial and satisfying. Simply cook your protein separately and toss it in with the zucchini noodles and pesto.
Can I heat the zucchini noodles?
While zucchini noodles are often enjoyed raw for their crisp texture, you can lightly sauté them in a pan for 1-2 minutes if you prefer a softer consistency. Be careful not to overcook them, as they can become mushy.
How do I store leftover zucchini noodles?
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. However, keep in mind that zucchini noodles may release moisture over time, so they are best enjoyed fresh.
Can I freeze zucchini noodles?
It is not recommended to freeze zucchini noodles, as they tend to become watery and lose their texture upon thawing. It’s best to enjoy them fresh for the best flavor and quality.
The nutritional values provided are approximate and may vary depending on specific ingredients used and serving sizes.
- Calories: 180 per serving
- Fat: 16g
- Carbohydrates: 8g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 4g
Note: Nutritional information is based on the specified recipe and does not include additional toppings or protein additions.
Zucchini Noodles with Pesto is a vibrant and healthy dish that celebrates the flavors of summer. With its gluten-free and low-carb nature, it is suitable for a variety of dietary preferences.
By embracing the abundance of fresh ingredients and creative combinations, this recipe offers a delightful twist to traditional pasta dishes. Whip up a batch of zucchini noodles with pesto and savor the taste of summer on your plate. Bon appétit!