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basil lemon pesto pasta with zucchini

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Basil Lemon Pesto Pasta with Zucchini is a quick and easy vegetarian meal perfect for busy weeknights.

Can you tell how much I love zucchini with the number of zucchini recipes I have on here? Well, here’s another one and it’s so scrumptious! It’s a healthy and light dish that  it’s also vegetarian if you choose to make it that way, which I did, but you can easily add shredded chicken in this or any other meat. I went all health snob with this dish by using whole wheat pasta and all organic zucchini and pesto.

Speaking of pesto — I LOVE pesto. I don’t know why I don’t cook with it as much as I should. When I worked at an Italian restaurant in high school, I would always get the pesto pasta dish there. Why I never chose to replicate it blows my mind. I probably should keep that in mind for my next craving of pesto.

It’s also really easy to make your own pesto, BUT I calculated the cost and time and that’s why I chose to buy mine already canned instead of making my own. It takes about 2 cups of basil and 1/2 cup of pine nuts, amongst other ingredients, and if you don’t have a large amount of basil and pine nuts just sitting around, buying all those will cost you well over $5 and I bought my jar of pesto for $3.50. I’m not trying to deter you from making your own pesto, I’m just giving my reasoning as to why I didn’t make my own :)

basil lemon pesto pasta with zucchini

If you love pesto and zucchini, this is the pasta dish for you!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 -6
Author: Julie Chiou
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  • 1 pound whole wheat pasta
  • cup of basil pesto
  • ¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 medium zucchinis
  • 2 cloves large of garlic or 1 tbsp.,, minced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh grated Parmesan cheese

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.


  • In a small bowl, put your pesto and lemon juice in it and stir to combine. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, boil water for your pasta. Season the water with a liberal amount of salt and a couple drizzles of olive oil.
  • Cook the pasta until done. Whole wheat pasta takes a little longer to cook, about 9-12 minutes.
  • While the pasta is cooking, cut your zucchini. First cut off the ends then cut in half lengthwise and then slice into half-moon slices.
  • In a large frying pan (big enough to hold all the pasta when it's done), drizzle some olive oil and turn the stove to medium high. Once oil is hot, add in the minced garlic and saute until you can start to smell the garlic, about 1 minute. Don't burn it!
  • At this point, add the sliced zucchini, salt, and pepper, and saute until tender-crisp. You can taste a piece to see if it's as done as you like. It took me about 5-7 minutes to cook it to the tenderness I liked.
  • Add the pesto to the cooked zucchini. If the mixture is too thick/clumpy, add a little bit of the pasta water to thin it out.
  • Drain the cooked pasta in a colander and add it to the zucchini and pesto mixture. Gently toss and mix together until well combined.
  • Grate fresh Parmesan cheese on top before you serve.

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Course: Main Entree, Pasta


Recipe Rating

Making Pancakes

Sunday 11th of October 2020

Really enjoy this recipe. The lemon freshens it up (I used a meyers lemon). You can omit the garlic as the pesto has it already unless you want that extra pow. You could add more zucchini as I did. For leftovers we added some sautéed pancetta


Saturday 23rd of March 2019

This is one of mt favorite recipes! We'll grill some chicken and have some nice crusty bread with it - absolutely delicious.


Friday 6th of September 2013

I cannot wait to try some of your recipes. I just found your website today, and I have been going crazy pinning everything that I want to try! Everything looks amazing!


Friday 6th of September 2013

So glad you found me Rachel! Thank you for sharing my recipes :) Hope you find something delicious to make!

Aaren Griffith

Tuesday 13th of August 2013

This was absolutely delicious. The lemon was a perfect touch! Thanks for sharing!


Tuesday 13th of August 2013

Glad you enjoyed it!

Darla Adams

Thursday 4th of July 2013

Can't wait to expand our culinary skills