Zucchini Pesto Pasta (Raw, Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Zucchini Pesto Pasta (raw, vegan, gluten-free) | Will Cook For Friends

It’s that time of year again. The time when it is too hot to cook, and everyone and their brother are trying to pawn off their zucchini surplus on unsuspecting bystanders like myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I love zucchini… but pounds upon pounds of it can be a bit much to handle when I can’t turn my oven on.

Enter, zucchini pasta. Raw, vegan, gluten-free, and almost as much fun to make as it is to eat.

Zucchini Pesto Pasta (raw, vegan, gluten-free) | Will Cook For Friends

Seriously, using a spiralizer takes me back to being a kid and playing with play-dough.

I bought this device at the end of last year, and was so, so excited to finally have one. Every time I saw someone cutting ribbons of vegetables with ease, I felt a twinge of jealousy. Much like a kid with play-dough. I wanted to use the pasta maker! So, I finally treated myself, and got one while it was on sale on Amazon. (Score!)

I then promptly forgot about it, and left it on a shelf for almost four months. But then, the zucchini started rolling in, and I remembered, oh yeah… spiralizer! This is the moment you’ve been waiting for, little machine!

Update: for those of you wanting to know (I get asked all the time) this is the spiralizer I use: Paderno World Cuisine Spiral Vegetable Slicer. I chose this one because it comes with multiple blades, which store within the unit itself. It’s a little bit bulky for storing, but so far I’ve been happy with it!

Zucchini Pesto Pasta (raw, vegan, gluten-free) | Will Cook For Friends

Now, you don’t need a spiralizer to make vegetables into noodles — there’s a little thing called a julienne peeler (just like a vegetable peeler, but with teeth), that can do the same sort of thing. It takes more time and effort to get a bowl full of veggie noodles this way, but if you don’t want to deal with shoving yet another kitchen appliance into your cupboards, it will get the job done.

The idea of doing a pesto sauce came from the fact that I have not one, but two big basil plants this year. I spiralized my zucchini, then ran outside to grab my basil only to find that the heat of the past day had almost done them both in. I quickly brought them inside and gave them some cool water, but they were too far wilted to be plucking leaves off of.

I called T-Hubs in a panic, and because he’s just that kind of guy, he went out of his way to TWO different stores just to find me some basil. Gotta love that man…

Zucchini Pesto Pasta (raw, vegan, gluten-free) | Will Cook For Friends

Because this dish is, well, basically a salad (is it a pasta salad, or a salad pasta?), I tried to pack as much goodness into this pesto as I could. I used pine nuts, walnuts, and a couple heaping tablespoons of hemp seeds for the healthy fats and proteins, then glugged in lots of good quality extra virgin olive oil.

I also topped the salad pasta with extra pine nuts, and a handful of chopped sun dried tomatoes to punch up the flavor. (Not like it needed it, but hey, sun dried tomatoes make everything better, right?)

Disclaimer: I do not follower a raw / vegan / gluten-free lifestyle. I have in the past, though, and still love discovering delicious foods that fall into those categories. If you don’t have a restricted diet, and just want an easy, no-cook recipe, I recommend you give this a go. (And yes, you can grate a bunch of fresh parmesan in there if you want to. I won’t judge.)

Zucchini Pesto Pasta (raw, vegan, gluten-free) | Will Cook For Friends

What’s your favorite way to use up excess zucchini?

5.0 from 3 reviews
Zucchini Pesto Pasta (Raw, Vegan, Gluten-Free)
Recipe type: Main Meals
Serves: 2
For the pasta:
  • 3 medium zucchini (or yellow squash, or a mix of both)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ¼-1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped*
  • ¼-1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 cup fresh cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Fresh basil, for garnish
For the pesto:
  • 1 cup basil, tightly packed
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • 2 heaping TBSP hemp seeds (optional)
  • 2-3 TBSP lemon juice (about half of a lemon)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • ½-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Big pinch of salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Wash zucchini, then cut into thin ribbons using a spirlaizer or julienne peeler. Place ribbons in a large colander, and toss with kosher salt. Let drain for 5-10 minutes while you make the pesto. (If the zucchini is too salty once it's finished draining, rinse under cool water and drain well.)
  2. In the bowl of your food processor, combine all the pesto ingredients except the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Beginning blending, and drizzle in the olive oil until you've reached the consistency you want. Keep in mind that a thinner pesto will coat the pasta easier. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Pulse to combine.
  3. Place the drained zucchini noodles into a large bowl along with the sun-dried tomatoes, remaining pine nuts, and cherry tomatoes. Add ¼-1/2 cup of pesto, and toss to coat. Serve!
Extra pesto can be stored in an air-tight jar in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks, or frozen for several months.

I've always considered sun-dried tomatoes to be raw, but if you are trying to avoid jarred products that may have been heat-sealed, you can substitute your own by dehydrating halved cherry tomatoes, then rehydrating them in a jar with olive oil.

Note: this post contains affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, even if it isn’t the item I mentioned, I receive a small percentage (at no extra cost to you). This helps support this blog, and makes it possible for me to bring you tasty recipes! I only share links to items I personally use or would recommend, and I have no outside incentive to promote a particular item or product — all opinions are my own.

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18 Responses to Zucchini Pesto Pasta (Raw, Vegan, Gluten-Free)

  1. Amy @ Elephant Eats July 25, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole spiralizing-vegetables-and-calling-them-pasta trend, but I have to admit that this looks very tasty. A great veggie side-dish if nothing else!

    • Willow July 25, 2014 at 11:52 pm #

      To be honest, I’m with you on that — it’s a little weird to be eating zucchini and calling it pasta. I’m not sure what else to call it, though, because it kind of feels like pasta. I like the idea of calling it “salad pasta” instead of “pasta salad.” Either way, it’s pretty tasty stuff!

  2. Erin | The Law Student's Wife July 25, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

    Ok, I need to get on the spiralizer train ASAP. Also, every time I look at your blog, I am blown away. Your photos give me goosebumps!

  3. Maria July 28, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    Which spiralizer did you purchase? There are a couple brands out there that look similar.

    • Willow July 28, 2014 at 9:05 am #

      Hi Maria, I have the “Paderno World Cuisine Tri-Blade Spiral Vegetable Slicer.” I chose this one on a recommendation from a friend, and because it’s a number one seller on Amazon. It’s fairly inexpensive, and gets the job done beautifully!

  4. Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl July 28, 2014 at 6:36 pm #

    I need this pesto in my life covered in pasta. Or the pasta covered in pesto. Both ways!

    • Willow August 1, 2014 at 8:54 am #

      Hahaha, you said it!

  5. Crista August 7, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    I’ve been looking for a vegan pesto recipe! Thanks, it’s so easy!! xox

  6. Patricia Gearing January 19, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

    Been checking these recipes out and I am hoping a friend of mine who is now allergic to flour at some other things will have a go at these.
    I am however lactose intolerant so it will do us both a big favour. Thank you.

  7. danaeL October 25, 2015 at 6:41 am #

    Your blog is amazing, I really enjoyed the time spent here!

  8. Mildred November 8, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    Is the zucchini not cooked? I’m not familiar with the concept of straining. What do you mean by this? I will be using fresh zucchini. Thank you.

    • Willow Arlen November 8, 2015 at 10:27 am #

      Hi Mildred — No, the zucchini is not cooked. By straining, I mean setting the spiralized zucchini into a colander or strainer so that the liquid can drain away. Zucchini has a lot of water inside of it, and once you add salt that will draw some of the moisture out. If you don’t drain it, it had a tendency to get soupy. Hope that helps!

      • Mildred November 8, 2015 at 11:33 am #

        Thanks for the prompt response. I’m going to try this :)

  9. Mildred November 17, 2015 at 7:44 pm #


  10. xiaofu sun May 23, 2020 at 2:02 am #

    omg, It’s super duper yummy!my favorite pasta in the world so far!


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