This easy and quick Zucchini Pesto Pasta is a tasty family dinner during zucchini season and this is perfect for a meatless dinner option! Read about the pasta we used to make it much lower in carbs, and also other tips for making this a lower-carb dish.

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Zucchini Pesto Pasta on serving platter with plates, forks, and Parmesan

This is the time of year when zucchini is plentiful, and if you have a garden you’re probably getting a few zucchinis or yellow straight-neck squash every couple of days. The other thing that’s abundant this time of year is basil, and if I still had a garden I’d be freezing basil and making my favorite Basil Pesto with Lemon.

I guess it was the thoughts of that favorite basil pesto that originally inspired this Zucchini Pesto Pasta because years ago when I told my nephew Jake that were going to make it he asked me where the recipe was and I tapped the side of my forehead. This recipe was one of those spontaneous cooking ideas that just appear in my brain: why wouldn’t a little zucchini sauteed with garlic taste great mixed into pasta with basil pesto?

And when Kara and I cooked for the first time in the new condo kitchen to update the recipe with better photos we also decided to try a new lower-carb pasta variety to make this favorite recipe quite a bit lower in carbs. We loved how it turned out!

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

  • Penne pasta, or similar shape (We used Fiber Gourmet Pasta, see notes below)
  • salt, for pasta cooking water
  • zucchini
  • Minced Garlic (affiliate link)
  • Olive Oil (affiliate link)
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper, for seasoning zucchini
  • Basil Pesto with Lemon, or other pesto of your choice
  • pasta cooking water

What lower-carb pasta did we use for this recipe?

After I heard about Fiber Gourmet Light Pasta (affiliate link) from a few people, I bought some online and we absolutely loved it in this recipe. This pasta with lots of fiber reduced the net carbs in this recipe to about 18 net carbs per serving. And it tasted just like regular pasta!

However the bad news about the Fiber Gourmet Pasta is that it’s pricey, even in a recipe like this where we used one box to make 6 servings. I looked all around the web and didn’t find any site that had a low price for it sold by the box when you added in the shipping costs. The best price I found was at Amazon where you can buy a package of 12 boxes and get it for $3.99 per box. But if you buy only two boxes at a time at Amazon, it’s nearly $10.00 a box. For me it was such a treat to have “real” pasta without so many carbs that I bought a pack of 12, but if anyone finds it at a lower price for fewer boxes I’d love to know where you find it.

How else can you make a version that’s lower in carbs?

If you’re watching carbs you could make an even more carb-conscious variation by using twice as much zucchini and half as much pasta. I also think this recipe would be tasty made with Palmini Low-Carb Linguini (affiliate link) if you’re a Palmini fan. I would cut the linguini into shorter pieces for this dish.

Can you make this with purchased pesto?

Of course there are many people who don’t have a garden that’s mass-producing basil, and you can certainly make this with purchased basil pesto in a jar.  

Want more recipes with pesto?

Check out Low-Carb and Keto Recipes with Pesto for lots of good ideas for using this favorite sauce made with basil!

Zucchini Pesto Pasta collage of recipe steps

How to make Zucchini Pesto Pasta:

(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. This is a photo of the Fiber Gourmet Light Pasta (affiliate link) that we used. Cooking time for this pasta is 15-17 minutes, and we actually did cook it that long. Check the time on the package if you use a different brand. 
  2. Start a pot of water boiling for the pasta, salting the water. 
  3. As soon as the water comes to a boil add the pasta, stir, and reduce heat to medium, or high enough to keep the water at a gentle boil.
  4. Measure minced garlic and pesto. You can use more or less pesto to taste.
  5. Heat olive oil in a big frying pan, add the minced garlic and cook about a minute. 
  6. Once you can smell garlic, add zucchini, season with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and cook until the zucchini is as tender as you’d like it.
  7. When the zucchini is tender-crisp, stir in the pesto and gently combine with the zucchini. Cook for a minute or two longer.
  8. If the pasta isn’t done by then, turn the heat off for a minute.
  9. When the pasta is done, scoop out 1/2 cup pasta cooking water if you think you’ll want to add some. (I used the same measuring cup I measured the pesto in!)
  10. Drain the pasta into a colander placed in the sink.
  11. Then mix the hot pasta into the zucchini-pesto mixture, adding as much of the pasta cooking water as you need to get the mixture nicely combined. (We didn’t end up adding any extra water for the low-carb pasta we used.)
  12. Cook just a couple of minutes to get the pasta infused with the pesto flavor.
  13. Serve hot, with Parmesan cheese if desired.
  14. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for a few days and gently reheated in the microwave.

penne pasta with zucchini and pesto on serving plate with Parmesan

More Interesting Ways to Use Zucchini:

Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Slow Cooker Zucchini Recipes from Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker

Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Ratatouille Recipes (Slow Cooker or Instant Pot) from Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker

Zucchini Taco Boats from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Instant Pot Zucchini Recipes from Slow Cooker or Pressure Cooker

Zucchini Pesto Pasta on serving platter with plates, forks, and Parmesan
Yield: 6 servings

Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

This easy and quick Zucchini Pesto Pasta is a perfect family dinner during zucchini season! We used Fiber Gourmet Lower-Carb Pasta to make this a low carb meal. If you don't want to buy a special pasta you can use even less pasta and more zucchini and pesto if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. dry Fiber Gourmet Light Penne (or other pasta shape or other pasta of your choice, see notes)
  • salt, for pasta cooking water
  • 3 medium zucchinis (see notes)
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 T olive oil (more or less to taste)
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper, for seasoning zucchini
  • 1 cup Basil Pesto of your choice (see notes)
  • 1/2 cup pasta cooking water (optional)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely-grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Instructions

  1. Fill a large pot with water, add about 2 tsp. salt, and let the water come to a boil while you prep other ingredients.
  2. Wash zucchini if needed, cut off ends, then cut in half lengthwise and slice into half-moon slices. (If the zucchini is really large, you might want to cut it into fourths before slicing.)
  3. Measure out 1 cup basil pesto, and mince enough fresh garlic to make 2 tablespoon garlic, or use minced garlic from a jar if you like.
  4. As soon as the water comes to a boil add the pasta, stir, and reduce heat to medium, or high enough to keep the water at a gentle boil.
  5. Cook pasta about 17 minutes for Fiber Gourmet Light Penne, or as long as directed on the package, then measure out 1/2 cup pasta cooking water before you drain the pasta. (Don’t overcook, the pasta should still have some bite to it.)
  6. While pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a very large frying pan over medium-high heat. (Use a pan that's big enough to hold all the pasta when it’s cooked.) 
  7. When oil is hot, add the minced garlic, turn heat down to medium, and saute just until you can start to smell garlic, about one minute.  (Don’t let the garlic burn!)
  8. Then add the sliced zucchini, season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and cook until the zucchini is tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. (Taste a piece to see if it’s as done as you like it. I stop cooking when it’s still a little crisp.)
  9. Add the pesto to the cooked zucchini and gently stir to combine. (If the pasta is not done yet, turn off the heat.)
  10. Add the drained cooked pasta to the zucchini/pesto combination and gently mix together, adding as much pasta cooking water as you think it needs to get the mixture nicely combined.
  11. Cook the zucchini pasta combination a few minutes more to get the pasta flavored with pesto.
  12. Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese if desired.
  13. This will keep in the fridge for a day or two.

Notes

If you're using another brand of pasta the cooking time will be shorter, use the package directions.

I used Basil Pesto with Lemon for this recipe. Use more or less pesto to taste.

I used zucchini about 9 inches long.

Nutritional information for this recipe is based on the lower-carb Fiber Gourmet Light Pasta we used. Be sure to calculate net carbs, because this pasta has a lot of fiber.

Recipe created by Kalyn.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 383Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 5.9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19.9gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 721mgCarbohydrates: 35.5gFiber: 17.6gSugar: 3.1gProtein: 12.9g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

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Zucchini Pesto Pasta in serving bowl on green-white napkin

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This recipe with the Fiber Gourmet Light Pasta we used makes a dish that has about 18 net carbs per serving. If you don’t want to buy that pasta, you could make a version with fewer carbs by using twice as much zucchini and half as much pasta, or buy using another of the lower-carb and higher-fiber pastas on the market. Or make it with Palmini Low-Carb Linguini (affiliate link) for a truly low-carb version. With whole-grain pasta, you could eat a small serving of this Zucchini Pesto Pasta for phase 2 or 3 of the original South Beach Diet, but this dish is a bit high in fat for the South Beach Diet guidelines. For South Beach I would use portion control and serve with a salad that’s not too high in fat.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Zucchini Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Instagram, on TikTok, or on YouTube to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was posted in 2011. It was last updated with more information and a lower-carb pasta option in 2022.

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