Raw Pesto “Pasta”

Serve this dish, which uses raw zucchini to create “noodles,” with Mediterranean Grilled Tofu. When tossed with pesto, the zucchini softens to create a delectable low-carb “pasta.” If you have a mandoline with a julienne attachment, now is the time to use it. Otherwise you can cut the noodles the old-fashioned way. Toast the pine nuts in a dry sauté pan over medium-high heat while stirring constantly, until they turn golden brown, to enhance their flavor. On its own, the pesto makes a delightful dip for crudités.

Chef Mark Reinfeld

  • Enlarge Thumbnail for Raw Pesto “Pasta”
    • Phases234
    • 4
    • 25 Minutes
    • 10 Minutes
    • 35 Minutes
    •  US  Metric
  • Nutritional information per serving

    • 6g
    • 8g
    • 2g
    • 3g
    • 21g
    • 220

Ingredients

  • 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced into “noodles” (approximately 4 cups)
  • Pesto sauce:
  • 2 cups fresh basil, firmly packed
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoon pine nuts
  • 1 medium/large clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast*, optional
  • 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast*, optional
  • Garnish:
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 8 Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • 4 teaspoons pine nuts, optional

Directions

  1. To make the “noodles,” cut the zucchini into ¼-inch-thick slices, and then lay each slice on its side and cut into ¼-inch thick julienne strips. Place in a mixing bowl. Alternatively, use a mandoline on the small julienne setting.

  2. To make the pesto, in a blender or food processor, combine the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast (if using) and jalapeño (if using) and blend until smooth. Be careful not to over blend. Depending upon the strength of the blender motor, you may need to add a little more olive oil to process smoothly.

  3. Add the pesto to the zucchini “noodles” and toss gently but thoroughly. Let sit for 10 minutes so the zucchini softens.

  4. To serve, divide the mixture into four bowls and top each serving with 6 cherry tomato quarters, 2 olive halves and 1 teaspoon of pine nuts, if desired.

*Nutritional yeast is a pure strain of yeast that adds a cheesy and nutty flavor to vegan dishes. It’s also a source of protein, providing essential amino acids and B-vitamins. (The fortified Red Star brand contains vitamin B-12.) It’s available in the condiment section and/or the bulk section of natural foods stores. Stored in a cool dry place or the refrigerator or freezer, it will last for months.

**Wear rubber gloves when handling chile peppers and be careful not to rub your eyes.

  • Variation 1

    Raw “Pasta” with Cilantro Pesto Follow the basic recipe, but replace the basil with cilantro.

  • Variation 2

    Raw “Pasta” with Walnut Pesto Follow the basic recipe, but replace the pine nuts with walnuts, either raw or toasted.

  • Variation 3

    Raw “Pasta” with Macadamia Pesto Follow the basic recipe, but replace the pine nuts with macadamia nuts, either raw or toasted.