I’ve been a fan of pesto for as long as I remember. However, it reached a whole new level last summer though when I visited Cinque Terre in Italy. Given that pesto originated just a few ports away in Genoa, it is no surprise that eating it daily when in the Italian Riviera made my love for it quadruple.
Traditionally, pesto is made with basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and Parmigiano-Reggiano and Fiore Sardo (cheese made from sheep’s milk). The recipe you’ll find below is a healthier version of traditional pesto without the cheese and with spinach and a few other ingredients added. I also subbed zoodles for pasta noodles. If pasta and cheese are friendlier to you than they are to myself, then 1) I am jealous and 2) you can easily add the cheese and use the noodles with this recipe. Keep reading for my healthified pesto with zoodles recipe.
To start you will need: fresh basil, lemons, pine nuts, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, spinach, salt, pepper, red chili flakes, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and chicken (shrimp also tastes great!).
Start by cooking your chicken. I like to bake mine in the oven for about an hour at 350. I coat the chicken lightly with olive oil, salt, and pepper before baking. While your chicken is cooking, you can make your pesto sauce and zoodles. Chop your basil, then add it to a food processor. Slice your lemons and add the juice (watch out for seeds). Then add your pine nuts, olive oil, balsamic, spinach, and spices to the food processor. Blend until all the ingredients are combined and the pesto sauce is smooth.
*I inevitably end up with basil in my teeth, so I will try to save you possible embarrassment and recommend to always check extra carefully after enjoying anything with pesto!
- 1 cup of fresh basil, chopped
- 1 cup of fresh spinach
- 1/4 cup of pine nuts
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of garlic, minced
- 1.5 tablespoons of balsamic
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of red chili flakes
- 5 zuchinnis, spiralized
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, sliced in 1/2
- 1.5 pounds of chicken, cooked
- Cook chicken in the over at 350 degrees for one hour or on the stove top.
- Combine basil, spinach, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, balsamic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red chili flakes in a food processor and pulse until blended and smooth.
- Spiralize zucchinis and slice tomatoes in half, roast if desired.
- Combine chicken, zoodles, and tomatoes. Then, add pesto and toss to coat evenly. Enjoy!
It is also delicious to add 1/2 an avocado to your pesto sauce to make it extra creamy. Other varieties include: adding cheese if desired and subbing real noodles for zoodles or shrimp for chicken.
PS: Need a spiralizer? Get one here.