Zucchini Basil Pesto

August 21, 2019

Still faced with a massive amount of zucchini in your garden? Turn them into a delicious, bright, and flavorful zucchini basil pesto. Grated zucchini mixed with basil leaves, lemon juice, garlic, pine nuts, salt, pepper, and a little bit of olive oil pureed together make a perfect sauce for pasta, grilled fish, or chicken.

Homemade Zucchini Basil Pesto - Sarcastic Cooking

Summer garden zucchini overflow? Or just me? I was in charge of my parents’ garden while they basked in the Arizona sunshine and heat for two weeks. I checked the garden every few days. Those sneaky zucchini went from zeroes to wow; I should enter these in a largest zucchini contest.

I took a 16 inch zucchini off my parents hands and left them to deal with the two foot behemoth. There are only so many things and ways I can enjoy zucchini. As good as zucchini noodles are for you, they still ain’t no noodle!

Ingredients for Zucchini Pesto - Sarcastic Cooking

We grilled zucchini with some Adobo seasoning and lemon juice. I made these chocolate zucchini muffins. I cooked this epic fail of a zucchini lemon pasta. Word to the wise: if you try this pasta, maybe get a Meyer lemon or don’t use the whole lemon. My version was way to bitter to eat. Throwing away good bucatini makes me very, very sad. 

I was growing tired of zucchini to be completely honest. 

Zucchini Basil Pesto - #dairyfree #glutenfree #meatlessmonday | Sarcastic Cooking

It hit me! I wonder if I could turn this healthy veggie into a pesto? It did take a little bit of elbow grease, but it was done and it was goooooood! Grate one small/medium zucchini and then strain as much of the liquid out of it as you can. See? Elbow grease. Next, toss it in a food processor with some of the usual pesto ingredients and let the food processor take care of the rest.

Zucchini basil pesto makes a great topping for grilled fish, pasta, or even mixed into other marinara sauces or vinaigrettes to give it a boost of flavor.

I made a big batch and have been adding it to cold noodles for a quick pasta salad lunch. The key to storing the pesto and not having it turn brown form oxidation is to add a little olive oil layer to the top before sealing with a lid and storing in the fridge.

Zucchini Basil Pesto - Sarcastic Cooking

I hope I blew your mind with this recipe and maybe made you not regret planting as much zucchini in your garden.

Homemade Zucchini Basil Pesto - Sarcastic Cooking

Zucchini Basil Pesto

Yield: About 1 Cup of Pesto
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Zucchini basil pesto uses grated and strained zucchini along with fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to create a bright sauce perfect for pastas, grilled fish, or chicken.


  • 1 small/medium zucchini, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 -2 tsp of water (optional: see note)


  1. Add grated zucchini to a clean kitchen dish towel. twist the towel into a ball around the zucchini. Squeeze all the liquid, or as much as you can out of the zucchini. You may have to twist and squeeze the grated zucchini a few times to get as much liquid out as possible. At the end of this you should have 1 heaping cup of grated and strained zucchini.
  2. Add the zucchini, garlic, basil, and pine nuts to the food processor. Puree until finely minced.
  3. Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and 2 tbsp of olive oil. Puree until smooth and creamy. Stop to scrape down the sides as needed. Add the additional olive oil if needed and puree until thinned out and creamy.
  4. Add any additional salt or pepper if needed or water if you want a thinner sauce. Puree one more time and then store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.


Sometimes measurements aren't exact and some people may like a thicker or thinner pesto based on personal preferences. If you like a thinner pesto, add a few teaspoons of water to the food processor, give it one final puree, and the sauce should thin out nicely.

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