Facts about this recipe:
- I made this recipe for a cooking and plating demo. Not a strand of zoodle was left on a plate.
- Pesto is kind of a superfood, and this version in particular. Healthy fats in walnuts and olive oil, check. Nutrient, vitamin, and mineral rich spinach, check. Healthful garlic, check. Chock full of unadulterated vegetable matter, check. Only one small disappointment: I learned recently that blending your veggies destroys the insoluble fiber, an important part of a healthy diet. Sigh. For all of you hiding kale or spinach in your smoothies, you are also whirring away your insoluble fiber, which among other things, promotes a sense of being full and therefore helps you consume fewer calories. Well, at least the soluble fiber survives, and that is also important.
- Fresh pesto tastes way better than jarred. It’s even a whole different color. And if you used fresh ingredients from your farmer’s market, you are getting all kinds of nutrients otherwise lost in transit or in the process of making the pesto shelf-stable.
- Pesto is ridiculously easy to make in a food processor.
- Zoodles are fun to make! You can buy a simple spiralizer or some food processors have an attachment that will do it.
- Leave out cheese to make a vegan version. Don’t substitute. It’s delicious either way. You can always serve it with shredded parmesan on the side.
- I used approximately 2 TBS of pesto per one cup of zoodles and called this an appetizer-sized portion.
- Zoodles add veggie matter and take out carbs and calories from this recipe. It also makes it far less filling than regular pasta. So that’s all good, but I don’t think I’d serve this as a main dish. Unless I wanted guests to go home hungry.
- Red stuff artfully swished on plate in photo: roasted red peppers, almonds, and a little apple, pureed. I decided against including it in the recipe because it kinda doesn’t go. It tasted delicious, but I realized that if I were a contestant on a cooking show the judges would say, “I don’t get this sauce.” Neither would your guests.
- With the exception of walnuts, all the ingredients in this dish, including the micro greens and even parmesan cheese are produced locally around here. In season, I buy them at my local farmer’s market.
- Fancy dish? Dollar store find.
Healthy Spinach Pesto Zoodles
Makes sixteen appetizer portions
- 6 small/medium zucchinis or three large zucchinis—turned into “zoodles” with a food processor or spiralizer. Use (clean) kitchen shears to cut long zoodles into short lengths for easy consumption. Nobody wants a two-foot long zoodle covered in vibrant green and fragrant pesto trailing down their chins and onto their clothing.
- Micro greens for garnish. (Use mild flavored to avoid clashing with pesto flavor and colorful ones for best visual effect.)
- 4 cups spinach
- 1 bunch of basil leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup walnuts
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Process all the ingredients together until smooth. In a bowl with two forks or a pair of tongs, toss pesto with zoodles. It’s easier to coat the zoodles in small batches.