I’m super-excited about this new discovery! It’s so delicious, easy to make, AND it tastes just like authentic Italian Pesto Pasta, only better. Zucchini noodles with avocado basil pesto is Paleo, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. You’ll swear it’s real pasta and Parmesan cheese! I created this for a Memorial Day gathering, and everyone loved it. No one could believe the pesto is made of avocado, nuts, and lemon juice. I made two versions of the recipe: One is vegan with zucchini noodles and pesto sauce. For the other I added a chicken saute. Both were a huge hit!
Let’s talk about the zucchini noodles. I used my new Kuhn Rikon julienne peeler, and it was super-easy. There are three ways to make the noodles. 1) Use a julienne peeler. 2) Use a mandoline slicer. 3) Slice the noodles by hand. I’ve done it all three ways. I think the julienne peeler is easiest, least expensive, and easiest cleanup. I chose the Kuhn Rikon as it’s the top rated julienne peeler. It makes delicately thin noodles. It is ideal for making thin strips of crisp vegetables, but it didn’t julienne the soft inner seeds of the zucchini, so I have a lot of leftover zucchini scraps for soup tomorrow. The mandoline slicer makes perfect square noodles with no leftovers. It’s fantastic, but it costs a tiny bit more. I’ve sliced zucchini noodles by hand too – this is a bit more labor intensive, but certainly effective. See my post on Spaghetti Carbonara for illustrated photos and instructions on cutting by hand.
An inexpensive julienne peeler is easy to use and makes great zucchini noodles.
Paleo Pesto Pasta with Optional Chicken Saute on top!
- 2 pounds zucchini, julienned (larger zucchini are easier to julienne)
- 3 ripe avocados (save the seeds)*
- 2 ounces fresh basil leaves (That's 1 box or 2 huge handfuls)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 cup any nuts (I used mixed almonds, pecans, and Brazil nuts. You can also use walnuts or pine nuts. If you soak and toast nuts in advance, they’ll be more digestible and less bitter. See my post All About Nuts.)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (for a sharp cheese flavor)
- 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast (for a rich cheese flavor)
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon unprocessed salt
- Handful parsley to garnish
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 full breast organic chicken, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 6 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 3 green onions, chopped
- Unprocessed salt to taste
- Plenty black pepper
- Place the julienned zucchini in a steamer - any steamer. I used a Chinese bamboo steamer over a skillet of boiling water for 3 minutes. Cover the steamer and allow the steam to gently cook the zucchini. Cook very briefly so the noodles won’t be mushy. Use a gentle tool like the wooden handle of a spoon to move the noodles around a bit so the steam touches them all evenly. When they get a tiny bit soft, remove from heat. Don't over cook - remember they'll continue to get softer. It's best to serve these hot!
- In a food processor, add all ingredients: avocados, basil leaves, olive oil, nuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, garlic, and salt. Process well. Your pesto sauce is ready! No need to cook. (If you're letting the pesto sauce rest for more than 10 minutes, set the 3 avocado seeds in the pesto. This will prevent it from turning brown. We want it to be a beautiful green!)*
- In a large skillet, add olive oil and garlic. Cook garlic briefly over medium heat. Add chicken, salt, pepper. Brown 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and green onions. Cook 3 minutes until they begin to soften. Remove from heat - It's time to serve!
- Put the hot noodles in a serving plate. Add the pesto sauce on top. If you’re using chicken, put it on top of the sauce. Garnish with parsley. Serve!