This fresh zucchini pesto is a great way to use up the end of summer zucchini surplus without having to bake it into every muffin, bread and cookie you can think of.

Use it to make zucchini pesto pasta, as a topping to chicken, meat or fish or in any way you’d typically use pesto!

Zucchini pesto recipe.
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Wednesday morning, I hopped on a plane to San Francisco for an opportunity to visit Del Monte’s farms in Modesto, California.

Besides the visit to the factory and farms, it was also a chance to play hooky from “real” work for a long weekend, hang out with friends and eat our way through San Francisco.

Kinda a no-brainer, right?

Also on Wednesday morning however, Ulysses was getting all 4 of his wisdom teeth removed after working 2 night shifts back to back.

I’m pretty sure this qualifies me for the worst wife of the year award.

He doesn’t do well in doctor’s offices.

I went with him to get his third round of some Hepatitis vaccination for his job a few months ago and the look of sheer terror across his face as the nurse prepped the needle was simultaneously cute and unnerving that a 33 year old could be that afraid of a shot.

Potentially chasing around criminals at gun point? Not a big deal for him.

But a shot that goes in your skin like 1/2 a cm? Omg, the fear.

So to think of what state he was in after getting 4 teeth pulled, anesthesia and the delirium of 2 night shifts…well, I sorta feel bad.

I feel bad for him and I feel bad for Ginger who probably had a better chance of growing some thumbs and letting herself out of the house than getting Ulysses to do it for her.

Before I left though, I made this zucchini pesto with the world’s largest zucchini my mom gifted me from her garden.

Pasta with Zucchini Pesto.

It was the length of 3/4 of my arm, the girth of my calf and completely disturbing to look at on the counter.

Nothing like a cute little adorable round zucchini.

It probably would’ve easily fed a family of 8 but since that would mean 4 meals in our house of 2, making pesto out of the zucchini seemed like a better option. I guess I could’ve also frozen it for later too.

And because I’m not as horrible a wife as this ill-timed trip makes me seem, I figured the puffy faced invalid would be able to slurp it down too with some soft pasta or something and not have to rely on smoothies all 4 days I’m gone.


  • zucchini
  • garlic
  • pine nuts
  • parmesan cheese
  • basil leaves
  • kale or spinach leaves (just a few for color)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

The best way to prepare the zucchini for the pesto is to grate it using a box grater or a shredding attachment on a food processor.

Once it’s grated, you can squeeze out the excess water (zucchini holds A LOT of water) before making the pesto. Otherwise, you’d end up with a watery mess.

It’s the same method you’d employ when baking with zucchini like making healthy zucchini bars or banana zucchini muffins.

Even though this pesto is zucchini based versus basil based, adding a small amount of basil leaves (just 1/4 cup) is the perfect amount for a little flavor.

The kale or spinach leaves are honestly just for color to get a lovely green hue from the zucchini pesto. They don’t impart much taste and you can omit them if you choose.

When it comes to making pesto, it’s important to choose a good quality extra virgin olive oil. I feel a bit like Ina Garten saying this but it’s true.

The flavor of the olive oil shines through in a pesto so a single-source, cold pressed, organic oil is best.

Zucchini pesto recipe.


Grab your food processor (it is necessary for pesto making) and place the grated and squeezed zucchini along with all the other ingredients except the olive oil into it.

Process until a smooth texture starts to result. Slowly stream in the olive oil with the food processor running until the pesto reaches the consistency you like.

Season to taste with more salt and pepper if needed and that’s it!

Pesto making is pretty straightforward and usually the same no matter the type. For instance, radish greens pesto is made the same exact way as this zucchini pesto.


Now that you have a lovely batch of fresh summer zucchini pesto, you may be wondering how to use it.

Of course, you can toss the pesto with pasta for a traditional approach and enjoy some zucchini pesto pasta as shown here.

For a double zucchini pasta approach, toss it with zucchini noodles to create a light summer meal.

I also love using pesto as a condiment for any cooked chicken, fish or meat.

For example, use it to top this porterhouse steak skillet instead of the spinach pesto in that recipe.

It can be used as a sandwich spread (like you would mayo or hummus) or on crostini for an appetizer kind of like these edamame crostini.

And lastly, simply enjoy it as a dip! Serve the pesto with cut up raw veggies or some vegetable fries like jicama fries and parsnip fries.

I also love the color contrast against purple sweet potato fries – eat the rainbow!


If you need to store the pesto, transfer it to an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

If you want to keep the pesto super fresh while storing, drizzle a thin layer of olive oil on the top of the pesto in the container. This keeps it from oxidizing and turning an unpleasant color.

For longer storage, the zucchini pesto can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw under refrigeration 12-24 hours before using.


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4.36 from 17 votes

Zucchini Pesto

Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 10 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
This fresh zucchini pesto is a great way to use up the end of summer garden surplus without having to bake it into every muffin, bread and cookie you can think of.


  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 leaf of kale, for color more than taste, you can substitute spinach for this or leave it out, your pesto just won’t be as green
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, depends how thick you want your pesto
  • 1 pound dried pasta


  • Thoroughly squeeze all excess water from the grated zucchini in a dish towel.
  • Place zucchini in a food processor along with garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, basil, kale/spinach and salt & pepper.
  • With the food processor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the pesto reaches the consistency you like.
  • Check for seasoning again and adjust as necessary.
  • Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Drain pasta and toss with pesto to thoroughly coat.


Serving: 1SERVINGCalories: 406kcalCarbohydrates: 42gProtein: 13gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 11mgSodium: 312mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Sauces, Dressings & Spreads
Cuisine: Italian
Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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    1. Yes, you can freeze this like you would any other pesto and thaw for use. I like to freeze in ice cube trays so I can easily use as much as needed in the future.