This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
These zucchini noodles with pesto are a delicious dish that won't weigh you down. Fresh zucchini noodles are tossed with a dairy-free avocado pesto and topped with burst cherry tomatoes. It's an easy recipe to make, and it's ready in just 25 minutes!
These pesto zucchini noodles are what we make when we want something light yet satisfying with lots of vibrant flavors. It's not quite a pasta dish, but not exactly a salad either.
While some zucchini noodles are served raw, we choose to cook them for 30 seconds because we prefer the texture. The avocado pesto is completely dairy-free, but you'd never know. It's also super easy to make in the blender and bursting with fresh basil flavor.
It's naturally a great recipe to make in the summer when ingredients like zucchini, tomatoes, and basil are abundant, but you can find all the ingredients at the grocery store year-round. We keep this healthy meal on rotation in the winter to mix in between all the soups, stews, and heavier holiday meals.
Pesto zucchini noodles ingredients
Here's what you'll need to make pesto zucchini noodles:
- Cherry tomatoes – any cherry tomatoes will work, but if cherry tomatoes on the vine are available, choose those!
- Olive oil
- Zucchini – you'll need a vegetable spiralizer or julienne peeler (our favorite!) for this recipe to transform the zucchini into noodles. Look for long dark green zucchini for longer noodles.
- Spinach – the spinach adds bulk and texture to the noodles, but also lots of nutrition.
Here's what you'll need to make the creamy avocado pesto sauce:
- Fresh basil leaves – it just wouldn't be pesto without the bright fresh flavor of basil.
- Avocado – avocado might seem like a surprising ingredient for pesto, but it adds lots of creamy texture and keeps it completely dairy-free.
- Spinach – is neutral in flavor so you don't taste it but it adds lots of vibrant green color to the pesto.
- Sunflower seeds – pine nuts are outrageously expensive so we tend not to use them. Sunflower seeds work equally well to give this pesto a creamy texture and mildly nutty taste.
- Lemon juice – for brightness and a pop of citrus flavor.
- Water or olive oil – water is the lightest option, but oil will make it wonderfully creamy.
- Garlic + Sea salt – to enhance all the awesome flavors.
How to make pesto zucchini noodles
These zucchini noodles with pesto are perfect for weeknights when you want something healthy and flavorful without much fuss. The zucchini spirals mop up the homemade pesto, and the roasted vine tomatoes add a pop of flavor.
Here's how it comes together in a few simple steps:
- To start, prepare the tomatoes. While your oven preheats, drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and roast them until they burst.
- Next, it's time to cook the zucchini noodles. This step happens quite fast so get your colander ready by placing it in the sink. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil, drop in the zucchini noodles, let them cook for about 30 seconds, add the spinach, then drain immediately.
- Now, they need sauce! Make the avocado basil pesto by combining all the ingredients in your blender or food processor and blending until smooth. Pour the pesto over zucchini noodles, toss to coat, and season with salt.
- Serve the zucchini noodles with a few burst tomatoes and sunflower seeds on top.
How long do leftovers keep in the fridge?
How long do leftovers keep in the fridge?
Zucchini noodles are one of those foods that are best eaten right away. They will lose their water and become soggy pretty quickly. While the leftovers will be safe to eat for a few days, this recipe tastes the best fresh.
Can I make the pesto ahead of time?
You can! Avocado tends to oxidize (aka turn an unappetizing brown color) pretty quickly but we have a simple trick. Pour the prepared pesto into a jar or container and top it with a thin layer of water before putting on the lid and placing it in the fridge. When you're ready to use it, drain the water off the top. You may need to skim a tiny layer off the top of the pesto, but the rest should stay bright green.
Are pesto zucchini noodles healthy?
Definitely! This recipe is low in calories and carbohydrates while also being chock-full of veggies, fiber, and heart-healthy fats. They're also gluten-free, vegan, and paleo.
I don't have a spiralizer or julienne peeler. What can I use instead?
You can make zucchini ribbons with a vegetable peeler or a mandoline as well. Simply peel long ribbons from the zucchini, but discard the seedy center. Rotate the zucchini to get as many ribbons as you can. They should be about 1/16th inch thick.
What to serve with pesto zucchini noodles
Pesto zucchini noodles are a light yet satisfying meal for weeknights or anytime you're craving an extra dose of veggies. Enjoy them on their own, as a side dish, or topped with protein like shrimp or fish, chicken, a hard-boiled egg, or even grilled tofu.
Proteins that pair well with pesto zucchini noodles:
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 4 medium zucchinis (cut into noodles with a spiralizer or julienne peeler)
- 2 cups spinach (packed)
- ¼ cup basil leaves (packed)
- 1 avocado (peeled and pit removed)
- ¼ cup spinach
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- ½ cup water, olive oil, or a combination (see notes)
- 1 clove garlic
- Sea salt (to taste)
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and roast them in the oven for 10 minutes, or until they are soft and a few have burst.½ cup cherry tomatoes, 1 teaspoon olive oil
- While the tomatoes are roasting, place a colander in your sink and put a pot of lightly salted water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Once it begins to boil, drop the zucchini noodles in, wait 30 seconds then drop in the 2 cups of spinach and stir the pot. Immediately pour the noodles and spinach into the colander and let it drain well.4 medium zucchinis, 2 cups spinach
- Combine all the pesto ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Pour the pesto over the well-drained zucchini noodles and toss to coat. Season to taste with sea salt (We like about one teaspoon).¼ cup basil leaves, 1 avocado, ¼ cup spinach, ¼ cup sunflower seeds, 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice, ½ cup water, olive oil, or a combination (see notes), 1 clove garlic, Sea salt
- Serve the zucchini noodles with the burst tomatoes and a few sunflower seeds over top.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.