September 14, 2010

Zucchini with Avocado Pesto

It may not come to you as a surprise to hear that I used to be a vegetarian. It wasn't as much as a conscious choice as it was just a natural progression of my lifestyle: I have always been very active and health-conscious, and essentially I just didn't feel well eating large amounts of meat. My vegetarian days lasted for a good few years, but when I moved to Sydney I felt it was easier for everyone that I included some meat in my diet. To this day I still eat vegetarian meals 90% of the time.

As much as my partner is unbelievably flexible when it comes to food (he eats pretty much anything I put in front of him), he does prefer his protein in the form of lean meat. Last time I made him a fully vegetarian dinner I mentioned it was because he had told me he was going to opt for one vegetarian day a week. He replied "Was I? I think it was your thought honey, not mine"... So admittedly there is still a bit of work to do in convincing him to give up meat ;-)

This pesto recipe is, in my mind, almost revolutionary. I love pesto, but often feel it can get a bit heavy with all the oil and the parmesan. Why I never thought to use avocado to achieve the creaminess, I don't know, but I'm glad I found this recipe, because I don't think I'll ever go back to the normal pesto again! This pesto is lovely with zucchini, but I see no reason why you couldn't have it with fish, chicken or pasta.

Zucchini with Avocado Pesto
(Recipe adapted from the 80/20 Diet by Teresa Cutter)

1/2 avocado, peeled and stoned
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice of one lime
juice of 1/2 lemon
small handful basil

small handful flat-leaf parsley

20g green, unsalted pumpkin seeds

40g natural almonds, chopped

1 tsp honey

pinch of sea salt

4 small zucchini

200g cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 small handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped 1 tbs balsamic vinegar

To make the pesto, put the avocado, garlic, lime and lemon juice, herbs, pumpkin seeds, almonds and honey in a food processor. Process until smooth, add 30ml water, and season well with freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt.

Cut the zucchinis into thin strips (julienne) and place into a large bowl. Add the pesto and toss well. In a small bowl, combine the tomatoes with the parsley and the balsamic, toss and spoon on top of the zucchini.


  1. I eat meat on occasion, but whenever I'm creating new recipes I always tend toward the vegetarian side. For some reason unbeknownst to me.

    I love your thought to use avocado to replace the oil in pesto! Genius!

  2. vegetarianising my meals is something that I am try my best to execute. I certainly feel a lot better when I am on a successful run of it. This dish looks so wholesome and delicious.

  3. I can't believe you were vegetarian! Tell me you've had Hurricane's rack of ribs since being in Sydney. If you haven't we can't be friends! ;)

    ps. sorry if you get this comment twice. I tried to comment and it crashed.

  4. What a delicious looking pasta. It looks so fresh and vibrant. Yum!
    *kisses* HH

  5. Revolutionary? I bet! This looks like the hybrid of pesto - I love the green colours thanks to the avocado and parsley and basil but what's interesting is honey! A must try recipe!

  6. This is such a beautiful, vibrant dish! I'm still trying to convince my hubby to eat vegetarian one or two nights a week too. ;)

  7. I agree with Trisha - I'm absolutely intrigued by the honey! Could you taste it, or did it act as more of a binder?

  8. Thank you all for your comments!

    Catty: Eeeehh, I haven't... :-/

    Trisha & mademoiselle délicieuse: I think the honey is there just to balance the flavours rather than act as a binder :-)

  9. I love the idea of avocado pesto and the pumpkin seeds is a great addition!

  10. I think I know what I'm going to be having for dinner tonight. Thank you! Great trick with the avocado, it's genius really!

  11. This looks really interesting, I'm going to give it a go!

  12. This looks and sounds soooo good. I used to be a vegetarian as well, and have shared my own story many times on my blog. I, too, felt after a point that it was simply easier to cook meat to benefit my husband who was so patient with me when I wasn't eating it. I try to have a balanced diet for the most part of meals that have meat and meals that are meat-free.

  13. Maria, is it a Finnish thing? All of the Finns that I know are very healthy and active and of course Mr NQN's family are all vegetarian. OK that's not a huge sample pool but they are definitely very healthy! :)

  14. Thank you so much for your comments!

    Lorraine: I think us Finns have to stay active just to keep warm! ;-) Vegetarianism is not traditionally Finish, though.

  15. MMMMMM,..Maria!! What a delightful dish!! I so much love your original & tasty recipes!

    I am going to make this tonight Thanks!


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