Pesto Zuc Noods

This year, I potted six basil plants. I'm hoping at least one or two survive Montana's volatile weather. We had a few below-freezing nights in June. When I was at the market mid-month, a couple of my favorite farmers had green garlic, and only green garlic, on their stand.

Most of their early season plants died with the summer frost. Though I grow food for recreation, I, too, felt betrayed by the cold spell. A couple of my basil plants withered into sad, brown things. This Montana. It can snow literally anytime of year. 

Fresh basil is thus a luxury. I've always had a soft spot for pesto, and I think it's partly because basil doesn't dominate our local food scene. For Montanans, basil can be like the summer itself: a shy, elusive creature, showing up for a few days and returning a week later, damp with snowmelt.

Basil pesto delicious fresh cooking

Zucchini, on the other hand, tends to grow without hesitation. One summer I found a zucchini beneath the vine leaves that had reached the length and girth of a six-month-old. Realizing one can make noodles from this plant proved to be a life hack on par with cauliflower rice. I've since discovered the Titan julienne peeler works best for creating zuc noods the width and length of spaghetti. (I don't collaborate with Titan; this opinion is my own.) 

The recipe below offers a vegan alternative to pesto. Instead of parmesan, I used nutritional yeast. I can eat cheese, and sometimes I'll make the same recipe with parm. But I like to use nutritional yeast because, as an athlete, I welcome extra B-vitamins into my diet when I can get them. (B vitamins = energy.) Nutritional yeast is also a complete protein and is thought to help the immune system. (A serious bonus this time of year, as my body is in overtime attacking make-believe pathogens known as pollen. Maybe you can relate?)

Between the zucchini and basil, this meal tastes fresh and sits light in the stomach. I like to eat it for lunch if I know I'm gonna be running or climbing in the early afternoon. Otherwise I'll pair it with some meat for dinner, or even warm some up and serve it with a couple fried eggs for breakfast. The recipe I offer includes sautéed leeks, mushrooms, and pak choi, but--as always--feel free to add any different or additional vegetable, cheese, or meat you think would taste good. 

Zucchini noodles healthy delicious easy food

The real star here, all in all, is the pesto. 'Cause basil, plain and simple. 

Basil local food delicious easy healthy meals

Zuchinni Noodles with Pesto 

What You'll Need

For the Pesto:

Pesto ingredients easy delicious recipe vegan

3 oz (about 3 C, loosely packed) Fresh basil

1/2 C Olive Oil 

1/4 C Sunflower Seeds

2 T Nutritional Yeast

4 Garlic cloves, chopped a little 

Juice of one lemon, seeds removed

1 t Salt

1/2 t Pepper

For the Noodles:

Zucchini noodles pasta dish healthy easy plant based

2 Medium to large sized zucchinis


A leek or two

Pak choi

Tomatoes, sprouts, and chevre

Homemade pesto easy delicious plant based diet

What You'll Do 

For Pesto:

1. Place all ingredients in a blender and let 'er rip. 

Easy pesto vegan delicious healthy

No, really, it's that easy. 

For Zuc Noods: 

1. Peel zucchinis with preferred noodling tool. (Again, I use the Titan juilenne peeler.) 

Shred noodles.jpg

2. Chop up mushrooms, leeks, and pak choi. 

Chopped vegetables.jpg

A note on chopping leeks: start at white base and move up the green stalk. As you go, the layers may start to peel. I just let them, setting the peels to the side. You'll probably come across some dirt. I don't mind a little dirt--surely there's some health benefits, right?--but you can just wash it off as you go if the texture bothers you. 

Cutting leeks easy cooking delicious and healthy

3. Sautée these veggies on low heat in olive oil. I leave the zuc noods cold and add the warmed up veggies to the noodles. This was there's a little heat thrown into the raw goodness. 

Vegetables easy cooking zucchini noodle pasta

4. Add sautéed vegetables to the noodles alongside the tomatoes and chevre in a large bowl. (I leave the sprouts off for a garnish at the end. I ended up transferring the dish to a larger bowl than I thought I needed at first, so I recommend just starting big.) 

Delicious easy healthy pesto dish zuccihini noodles
Zucchini noodles with pesto and healthy ingredients plants vegan

Dish up and eat up! Veggie power for your summer pursuits. 

Pesto zuc noddles single serving.jpg

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