Quick and Healthy Zucchini and Spinach Pesto

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Last time I was on a cleanse I made some raw zucchini noodles with a sun-dried tomato pesto.  I liked it so much that I thought I’d try it the noodles again with a more traditional pesto.  Of course, you generally don’t think of oil, pine nut and Parmesan-heavy pesto as a healthy, detox-friendly recipe.

As luck would have it, food combining queen Lauren had just posted a low-fat, vegan pesto that I was happy to try out.  Verdict?  Success.  Not only is it quick, healthy and light, it’s also much less expensive than making traditional pesto.  I remember a friend once gave me several bunches of basil from his garden.  Inspired to make some pesto, I ran out to the store for Parmesan and pine nuts.  Twenty-five dollars later, I realized it would have been much cheaper to just buy a tub of pesto from the market.  Oh well.

If you’re not on a cleanse, or not into raw zucchini noodles, this also works on traditional pasta or even whole grains.  The other night I mixed some quinoa and hemp seeds with the pesto and topped it all with a spinkling of Parmesan.  So so good.

Quick and Healthy Zucchini and Spinach Pesto with Raw Zucchini Noodles

Yield: 2 servings


* 3 Tablespoons olive oil
* 1 bunch basil
* 2 cloves garlic
* small zucchini, cut into large chunks
* 1/4 cup water
* handful baby spinach
* salt and pepper

* 2-3 zucchini (or substitute regular or gluten-free pasta)

* cherry tomatoes
* crumbled goat cheese or grated Parmesan


Combine the olive oil, basil, garlic, zucchini and water in the base of a blender. Process until nearly smooth, adding additional water if necessary, and then add the baby spinach. Continue to process until smooth and creamy. Add plenty of salt and pepper- you’ll know you’ve added enough when the flavors pop.

Drag a vegetable peeler along the zucchini to create long, spaghetti-like noodles. Rotate around the zucchini, and continue to peel into noodles until you hit the seeds. Repeat with the remaining zucchini. Place noodles in a large bowl and pour in desired about of pesto. Toss to coat the noodles.

Transfer to individual bowls and top with tomatoes and goat cheese or Parmesan.

Note: You’ll end up with more pesto than you’ll need for these two servings, so you’ll have plenty of extra sauce leftover for fish or pasta.

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