If you are like me, the mere thought of both lemon and basil can make your mouth water. Coming in second to taste – is their fragrance. I have always been enamored with the scent of basil and in the summer I make sure to plant many packets of basil seeds in my container garden. I have always said that I could bathe in water perfumed with the bruised leaves of basil (and maybe I have).
Pesto is one of my favorite flavors and I love to freeze it for a taste of summer when the temperatures outside plunge and I need a mood enhancer. Trust me, pesto has the power to transport one to a beautiful July afternoon.
The pesto recipe that I am sharing today is not a traditional pesto recipe since it does not incorporate pine nuts or parmesan cheese. While I love the addition of pine nuts,
I did not have them on hand and most of my recipes are assembled by what is in the house. Since raw nuts are one of my protein and pantry staples – I used a raw nut mix that I purchase at Target. Our local food co-op has an incredible selection of raw nuts in the bulk section but they are currently out of my price range. The nuts provide a protein boost and I love the smooth and buttery flavor they give the pesto (trust me…you will not miss the cheese).
I bought a Paderno World Cuisine Spiralizer last summer and I knew that I would love raw zucchini noodles. For years I have enjoyed making summer salads out of thinly sliced zucchini (shingled and layered on a plate) and sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil, leeks or onion, lemon juice, and fresh herbs. It was a technique that I had learned from the Food Network after watching Tyler Florence make a similar salad. He explained that you should let the zucchini sit so the acids in the lemon juice soften and “cook” the squash.
The spiralizer makes easy work of processing the zucchini and I suggest letting the salad rest at least an hour before eating. It does taste better the longer the ingredients marry so it is the perfect dish to make for a gathering.
When I made this recipe last week my husband and I ate the zucchini noodles as they are pictured but normally I add in extra produce. Some of my favorite additions are tomatoes (fresh or sun-dried), colored bell peppers, spinach, mushrooms, olives, and even roasted or boiled red or Yukon gold potatoes (the potatoes are incredible when they are folded into the cold zucchini noodles when they are still hot. When they are warm the potatoes really absorb the pesto).
- 3 small zucchini spiralized
- Fresh basil (approximately 1 cup…loosely packed. I used a combination of sweet basil and lemon basil that I have in my garden)
- 1/4 cup of raw nuts
- 1 large clove of garlic
- 1 Tablespoon of fresh chives (optional. In the summer since I have chives in my garden I add them to everything)
- Juice and zest of one lemon (if you are using bottled lemon juice – 1/4 – 1/2 cup depending on how tart you like the pesto)
- 1/8 – 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil (I do not add the oil to my pesto but instead add oil to the top of the dish before serving for portion control)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Add the basil, nuts, garlic, chives, lemon juice and zest, and salt and pepper to a blender and blend until smooth.
I added approximately 3/4 of the pesto to the spiralized zucchini and let it sit for a couple hours in the refrigerator. I let the bowl sit out for 20-30 minutes before serving since I like this dish closer to room temperature. The remaining pesto I will use for dinner this week.
Printable recipe: RAW ZUCCHINI NOODLES WITH LEMON BASIL PESTO
Pin the zucchini HERE.
These raw zucchini noodles with pesto would make a great layer for a jar salad and they make a great salad bed (in place of or with greens) or as an accompaniment to your favorite grilled items. I love to top mine with a giant grilled portabella mushroom cap or vegetable kebobs.
If you are interested in other zucchini noodle recipes make sure you check out my Zucchini Noodle Soup.
I also love to spiralize raw beets to use in salads, check out my Scarlet Salad recipe.
I hope that you enjoy this simple pesto recipe and I would love to hear back from you if you try it. In the next couple days be on the lookout for my favorite cold savory green soup recipe and shortly I will be sharing printable recipes and a shopping list for an August Green Smoothie Challenge. I thought that a green smoothie a day would be a great way to celebrate summer fruit and produce and I hope that you will join me!