30 Minute Zucchini Pesto Pasta

5 from 20 votes
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30 Minute Zucchini Pesto Pasta with mushrooms, burrata, and brown butter walnuts. This easy weeknight pasta recipe will be an instant family favorite!Pesto pasta in a yellow bowl with zucchini and mushrooms

Why You’ll Love This Zucchini Pesto Pasta

This verdant pasta makes use of two of summers most abundant pieces of produce: zucchini and basil! I even thought about changing the recipe name to Peak Season Pasta.

This homemade pesto pasta comes together in just 30 minutes and is totally kid-friendly. Plus, it packs enough rich flavor to even win over the hearts of carnivores.

Feel free to double up the pesto recipe and use leftovers throughout the week to dollop over grilled meat or fish, slather on sandwiches or wraps, or drizzle over caprese salad.

Are you ready to put your bounty of basil and zucchini to delicious use?!

Recipe Ingredients:recipe ingredients in separate bowls on a white board

  • Pasta: Any shape will work here, however I personally love casarecce or orecchiette, which act as catchers mits for the pesto sauce. Whichever you choose, just make sure you don’t cook it past al dente.
  • Zucchini: Sweet summer zucchini gets sliced into coins and sautéed until golden. I suggest slicing your zucchini into ~1/4-inch thick coins, and make sure you don’t crowd the pan. This will ensure both sides of the zucchini get sufficiently browned.
  • Basil: The star ingredient of the pesto, basil adds bright, fresh flavor. I also suggest setting some aside for the garnish!
  • Mushrooms: Baby bella (or white/button) mushrooms add meaty texture and savory depth to this pasta. You can also use shiitake mushrooms, if you prefer.
  • Walnuts: Rather than using pine nuts in the pesto, I look instead to chopped walnuts to add richness plus some brain-healthy omega-3’s. We also use walnuts as a crunchy garnish!
  • Burrata: Optional, but highly recommended for extra creamy richness!

Step-by-Step Instructions:

Step 1: Prepare the Homemade Pesto

Toast 1/4 cup of the walnuts in a large skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor.

Add basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice and zest, garlic, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to the food processor. Begin blending while gradually streaming in 1/2 cup olive oil; blend until smooth. Set aside.Basil, walnuts, Parmesan, and lemon in a food processorPesto blended in a food processor

Step 2: Cook the Pasta

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook just until al dente. Prior to draining, reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water.

Step 3: Sauté the Zucchini and Mushrooms

While pasta cooks, heat remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add zucchini and mushrooms; cook 7 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.

Season with remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Transfer to a bowl.Zucchini and mushrooms sautéing in a large black skillet

Step 4: Make Brown Butter Walnuts

Reduce heat to medium and add 2 Tbsp. butter. Cook until the butter is amber in color with a nutty aroma. Stir in walnuts, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until walnuts are nicely toasted. Season with a pinch of salt and transfer to a bowl.

Step 5: Assemble the Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Add zucchini and mushroom mixture back to pan, along with cooked pasta and pesto. Gradually stream in reserved pasta cooking water, stirring constantly, until sauce becomes glossy and begins clinging to noodles.

Divide pasta between each of 6 plates. Garnish with dollops of burrata or additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. Sprinkle brown butter walnuts overtop.Pasta mixed with pesto and zucchini in a large blue pot with a wooden spoon

FAQs and Expert Tips:

Should I Use a Food Processor or Blender for Homemade Pesto?

  • Either a food processor or blender will work for pesto, however the former will keep flecks of herb leaves intact. This is essentially an aesthetic decision, so feel free to use whichever one you prefer.

I personally love my Cuisinart 8-Cup Food Processor, which is perfect for blending pesto and sauces.

What Do You Eat Pesto With?

The beauty of homemade pesto is that it’s highly versatile.

For example, you could double the batch and use leftovers as a spread for crostinis or a condiment for sandwiches or burgers. Additionally, it can be thinned out with extra oil and used as a salad dressing!zucchini pesto pasta with buttery mushrooms and walnuts

More 30 Minute Pasta Recipes to Try:

Spaghetti Pomodoro with Kale and White Beans

30 Minute Chicken Florentine Pasta

Creamy Lemon Garlic Pasta (Vegan)

If you give this zucchini pesto pasta a try, be sure to snap a pic and tag #dishingouthealth on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations. Lastly, follow along on Facebook and Pinterest for the latest recipe updates!

 
5 from 20 votes

30 Minute Zucchini Pesto Pasta

30 minute zucchini pesto pasta with buttery mushrooms and toasted walnuts. This easy weeknight pasta recipe will be an instant family favorite!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 servings

Equipment

  • Food processor
  • Large skillet
  • Stock pot or Dutch oven

Ingredients  

  • 3/4 cup walnut halves, roughly chopped divided
  • 3 packed cups fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 3 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. pasta of choice (I use casarecce (pictured), shells, or bowtie)
  • 2 medium zucchinis, sliced into coins
  • 8 oz. baby bella (or cremini) mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 6 oz. burrata cheese for garnish (optional)
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Instructions 

  • Toast 1/4 cup of the walnuts in a large skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a food processor. Add basil, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and juice, garlic, 1/2 tsp. of the salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to the food processor.
    Begin blending while gradually streaming in 1/2 cup olive oil; blend until smooth. Set aside.
  • Cook pasta according to package instructions in a large pot of salted water until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water before draining.
  • While pasta cooks, heat remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add zucchini and mushrooms; cook 6 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add shallots and season with remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper; cook 2 more minutes. Transfer veggies to a bowl.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add 2 Tbsp. butter. Cook until the butter is amber in color with a nutty aroma, about 2 minutes. Stir in walnuts, and cook until nicely toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and transfer to a bowl.
  • Add zucchini and mushroom mixture back to pan (with burner still on medium heat), along with cooked pasta and pesto. Gradually stream in reserved pasta cooking water, stirring constantly, until sauce becomes glossy and begins clinging to noodles. (Start with 1/2 cup water and add more as needed - you may not use it all.)
  • Divide pasta between each of 6 plates. Garnish with dollops of burrata or additional Parmesan cheese, if desired. Sprinkle brown butter walnuts overtop.

Notes

*STORE refrigerated in an airtight container up to 4 days. 
*MAKE VEGAN by subbing Parmesan for nutritional yeast, and butter for plant-based butter alternative, such as Miyoko's brand. 
*MAKE GLUTEN FREE by using Banza chickpeas pasta or brown rice pasta. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1.2cups | Calories: 490kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 490mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 4g

I calculate these values by hand to ensure accuracy, however expect up to a 10% variable depending on food brands.

If you love this recipe, please leave a star rating and review below!

 

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Recipe Rating




38 Comments

  1. Sofia says:

    5 stars
    Loved this recipe! Thanks so much for sharing! My kids ate it up without a single complaint and my husband and I had seconds! It took longer than 30 mins to make but it’s a definite repeat in our house!

  2. Allison B says:

    5 stars
    This was a huge hit with my family!

  3. Beth says:

    I already have a batch of pesto. About how much should I use for this recipe? Thanks!

    1. Beth says:

      5 stars
      Delicious! Another favorite!

      1. Jamie Vespa says:

        Hi Beth – I’m so glad you enjoyed this one! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!

  4. Tara says:

    5 stars
    This was a great recipe! Kids ate it up. We also added chickpeas for added protein.

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Tara! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!

  5. Alli says:

    5 stars
    So much depth flavor and nutrition wise! The brown butter walnuts really tied it all together beautifully. Always grateful for your recipes! They keep me fed and feeling great about the food I put into my body.

  6. Leslie says:

    5 stars
    You can never go wrong with one of Jamie’s recipes! This is another winner! Definitely will be on repeat in our house. Thanks for all the great recipes!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Oh thank you so much, Leslie!! I’m so glad you enjoyed this one!

  7. Laura says:

    5 stars
    So so tasty!! Loved the brown butter walnut addition!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Yay so glad it was a hit, Laura! Thank you for leaving a review!

  8. Amber R says:

    5 stars
    Growing SO many zucchini’s and always looking for new recipes to try! This one was a winner!

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed this one, Amber! Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a rating and review!

  9. Jordan F says:

    5 stars
    Enjoyed this pasta so much! We used banza chickpea pasta for extra protein, and even my kids loved it

    1. Jamie Vespa says:

      Hi Jordan- I’m so glad the recipe was a hit! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review!