Zucchini noodles tossed in a rich and creamy walnut pesto topped with fresh parmesan. A low-carb, vegetarian, gluten-free meal that is undeniably delicious and satisfying.
Yes, I am eating entire plates of vegetables to off-set the amount of Christmas cookies I have recently consumed. It’s all about balance, folks! Thankfully, this might be the tastiest plate of veggies you ever face plant into.
So how many of you have jumped on the ‘zoodle’ train as of late? I’m rather new to the game to be honest. I’ve experimented with both a spiralizer and julienne peeler for zoodles and I have to say, I’m partial to the julienne peeler! It creates thinner “noodles”, which I think more closely mimic the texture of traditional spaghetti when cooked. But either one will work like a gem for this recipe.
Zucchini noodles are such a delicious alternative to pasta for those eating gluten-free or trying to stay low-carb. I find it especially helpful this time of year to incorporate a variety of light, nutritious dinners in light of all of the Christmas parties and festivities (aka cookies and wine). SO MANY cookies and wine.
Let me also touch on how absolutely delicious this pesto is. It’s made with minimal oil, extra greens and walnuts in place of pine nuts. It has an incredibly fresh, rich flavor that puts traditional bottled pesto to shame.
Since walnuts naturally have a higher oil/fat content than pine nuts, there is less need for additional olive oil. And just to clarify, the fat we speak of is heart-healthy omega-3 fats so we can go ahead and file this under *feel good food*.
I’m also fairly certain you will be kicking those pine nuts to the curb after making pesto with walnuts.
Spoiler alert: stay tuned for another recipe coming later this week also featuring the pesto(!!). Guys. It’s SO GOOD. I had *said* recipe last night for dinner and it totally doubled as my Monday comfort hug. Sorry for the teaser, but you can totally make this pesto ahead of time and be ready to dive head-first into the next recipe once I get it posted. 😉So how do we get the pesto sauce to be so creamy in this luscious mess of zoodles? A little fat-free cream cheese does the trick! You could also use mascarpone or ricotta cheese, but the fat content won’t be quite as low. I love the added creaminess because it makes the dish seem that much more decadent, but you could, of course, omit it and just stick with the pesto alone.
It’s fancy enough for entertaining, yet simple enough for a weeknight dinner. You could top it with grilled chicken, pork or even steak to make the meal extra hearty. The only thing that is an absolute must is that freshly shredded parmesan on top!
Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Walnut Pesto
- 3-4 large zucchinis 1.5-2 lbs
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp fat free cream cheese softened
- 1/4 cup walnut pesto*
- Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
- Topping: freshly grated parmesan
- ***Walnut Pesto***
- 2 cups greens I used spinach and kale
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic
- Juice of 1 whole lemon
- Pinch of sea salt
- In a food processor, combine all pesto ingredients and pulse until mostly smooth. You may need to stop a few times to scrap down the sides. Set aside.
- Using a julienne peeler or spiralizer, spiralize your zucchini into noodles. 1.5-2 lbs of zucchini should produce about 6 cups of zoodles
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and zoodles and saute for 5-7 minutes, until zucchini is softened. Create an opening in the center of the skillet and add cream cheese. Allow the cream cheese to melt before mixing it in the zoodles to prevent clumps. Once melted, mix in the pesto and stir everything to combine.
- Spoon into bowls and top with freshly grated parmesan.