Zucchini noodles with basil pesto

basil-pesto
This is a super light and tasty dish that works beautifully topped with your favourite protein and smashed avocado for a good serve of healthy fats.

Zucchinis. known as courgettes in the UK, are wonderfully alkalising vegetables rich in antioxidants. They are beneficial for eye health and contain a special type of pectin which has been linked to helping the body regulate insulin and protect against diabetes. They’re also very low in calories so perfect for those trying to lose weight or on a low-carb diet.

Like many other green leafy vegetables, basil is rich in vitamin K which plays an important role in the body helping blood clot, building healthy bones and providing support for the cardiovascular system. Basil contains flavonoids that help protect the body’s white blood cells against DNA damage and have antibacterial qualities that help protect against unwanted bacterial growth. Basil oil has anti-inflammatory qualities that may be beneficial for those with arthritis.

Basil pesto

  • 2 cups basil approx 50g
  • 50g / 1.75oz parmesan
  • 50 / 1.75oz pine nuts
  • 1 large clove of garlic/1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (or 4-5 tablespoons if you like a runnier pesto that will keep a little longer in the fridge)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method

Place the ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender and blend until smooth. You will end up with the consistency of a thick paste. To thin I add water when cooking but prefer not to add it when making the pesto as it doesn’t tend to keep as long. Alternatively you can add a tablespoon or two extra of olive oil when blending and this will result in a runnier, more traditional style pesto and will also help it keep longer in the fridge.

Zucchini noodles

  • 6 medium to large zucchinis / courgettes (approx 600g / 21oz)
  • 18 cherry tomatoes
  • 30g /1oz pine nuts
  • OPTIONAL: half a ripe avocado
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius or 350 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 5 minutes
  2. Place the cherry tomatoes on a baking tray and roast for 15 minutes until soft
  3. Heat a pan to a medium heat and dry cook the pine nuts for a minute or two, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Create your zucchini noodles using either a food processor, mandolin slicer or if you don’t have one you can use a good old fashioned cheese grater (obviously this won’t be as pretty but the effect will be the same)
  5. If you have time and you wish to drain out the excess liquid from the zucchinis, place them in a food colander, sprinkle with salt and allow to sit for 10 minutes or so then rinse thoroughly and pat dry (I’m happy with a little extra liquid in my noodles so don’t worry about this step)
  6. If using avocado, mash it with a fork (and if you have a little fresh lemon, sprinkle a tiny bit of juice over the top to keep it nice and green)
  7. Heat a saucepan to a medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the zucchini for a minute until lightly warmed through then set aside
  8. Place 3 generous tablespoons of pesto in the pan. If you used 3 tablespoons of olive oil when making the pesto you will need to add approx 2 tablespoons of water to the pan. If you made the pesto with extra olive oil, you won’t need the water. Allow to heat and if using pesto and water stir with a wooden spool until mixed to a thin paste
  9. Return the zucchini to the pan with the pesto for a short time (less than a minute) until the pesto is mixed through the zucchini
  10. Top with the roasted baby tomatoes, pine nuts and smashed avocado (if using avocado)
  11. Serve with your favourite protein (I like poached chicken – if you’re vegetarian chickpeas work well)

Serves 2

zucchini-noodles-basil-pesto

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