For some reason, unbeknownst to me, pesto is not a welcome ingredient in my family.  If mentioned, my parents would scrunch their noses.  At large family gatherings, there was never any pesto-containing dishes.  No one ever spoke of it.  I grew up thinking it was something extremely fancy and disgusting at the same time (like caviar).

It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I actually tried pesto and then the “Great Period of Pesto-Obsession” soon followed.  I bought a food processor purely for the sake of making pesto.  I would make huge batches of it at once, trying different recipes, and I had a back stock of pesto in the freezer, just in case there was ever an emergency where we needed pesto (I was in my 20’s.  I have no idea what kind of emergencies I thought could occur where pesto would be the ultimate solution, but my freezer was packed).  The first time I saw the words “Cilantro Pesto” on a menu, it blew my mind to know that you could actually make pesto with something other than basil.  Fast forward to now, 10 or so odd years (who’s counting?) later, with me making pesto out of anything green I can get my hands on.

I know that since becoming vegetarian, and even more so now since becoming vegan, my family is somewhat perplexed by the things I choose to eat.  Pesto is one of those things (as well as hummus, butternut squash, or quinoa, but I digress).  I was actually on the phone with my mom while I was making this dish, and she could not understand the concept of making pasta from zucchini.  When I mentioned the pesto, the subject was quickly changed.  In my earlier years, I probably would have had the same reaction.  My mom is pretty adorable.

Zucchini Pasta is one of my favorite things to do with zucchini.  When our CSA sent us some, I knew exactly what it’s fate was as soon as I saw it, especially since I still had some pesto left from this recipe, stored safely in my freezer.  I added some mushrooms because I love them and would put them in everything, if I had no willpower.  This dish is everything I would not have eaten in my younger years- the “exotic” idea of using zucchini as pasta, the basic mushrooms (one or both of my parents did not care for them- my memory escapes me as to which parent- so we never ate them in our house), and then the “taboo” pesto.  It really represents who I have become- a person very proud of my plant-based diet.



  • 2-3 zucchini
  • 14-15 crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup pesto


  • Using a mandoline, thinly slice the zucchini lengthwise into long ribbons.  Cut those ribbons in half, lengthwise.  If you have a vegetable spiraler (Lucky!!!), by all means, use that to magically turn your zucchini into strands of pasta.
  • Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil.  Add your zucchini pasta and boil for no longer than two minutes.  Strain and rinse with cold water to prevent it from cooking any further.  You can leave this step out, if you’d like to keep it raw.  Either way, let the zucchini sit in the strainer or colander for about 5 minutes, to get rid of excess moisture.
  • Heat a frying pan over medium heat for about 30 seconds.  Add the mushrooms and turn the heat down to medium low, stir the mushrooms every few minutes or so, letting them brown in their own juices.  Continue to “brown” the mushrooms for about 10 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the pesto sauce to the mushrooms and heat over medium-low heat.  Place the zucchini pasta in a serving bowl.  Once the pesto and mushrooms are fully heated, , add to the bowl of zucchini pasta and mix to combine.  Alternatively, you can divide the pasta between serving plates, and top with desired amount of pesto mushroom sauce.
  • Serve warm, either alone or with a bit of quinoa or rice (or whatever else you’d prefer).  Enjoy!

Were there any foods that weren’t eaten in your house while you were growing up?

All Photos by Chris Miller

© Kristy Turner and Keepin’ It Kind, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material (content and images) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kristy Turner and Keepin’ It Kind with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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