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Zucchini Pesto Pasta with Mushrooms Only Takes 30 Minutes

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The days are getting longer and the weather is getting nicer, and that means there’s more time to be out doing fun things instead of holing up in the house in darkness at 5 p.m. The longer I spend outside the house, though, the less time I have at home for spending a lot of time on cooking. That, plus a surplus of gorgeous farmers market zucchinis, makes this zucchini pesto pasta with mushrooms the perfect sort of thing to eat all summer long.

The author calls this “peak season pasta,” because it makes great use of both zucchini and basil, two of the season’s most abundant types of produce. This is the best time to make homemade pesto, because the better and fresher your basil tastes, the better the sauce will be. And homemade pesto uses up a ton of basil.

Traditional pesto Genovese is made with pine nuts, but this recipe calls for walnuts instead. The walnuts give a slightly richer, nuttier flavor, and chances are good they’ll be a bit less expensive, because pine nuts can get pricey.

Blend all the pesto ingredients with some crushed red pepper flakes in a food processor until they’re smooth. Then pat yourself on the back because that’s it: you’ve just made homemade pesto.

Use the pesto on pasta tossed with zucchini and mushrooms sautéed in olive oil and butter. Be sure to reserve some of the pasta water to add to the sauce to help the pasta absorb the flavors of the pesto and to thin out the sauce to your desired consistency. Serve it right away with freshly grated Parmesan and whole basil leaves for a garnish, or put it in the fridge for later. This would be great served cold for an outdoor picnic or for a quick lunch that requires no heating.

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