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Zucchini with Pesto

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Zucchini with Pesto is a perfect low-carb and Keto summer side dish and if you use purchased basil pesto this is extra quick and easy to make! I first made this recipe with my early summer Spinach and Basil Pesto, but use any pesto you have on hand!

PIN the Zucchini with Pesto recipe to try it later!

Zucchini with Pesto on serving platter sitting on wooden table

For this week’s Friday Favorites post, I’m recommending this easy and tasty recipe for Zucchini with Pesto! Whether you’re growing basil and making pesto or buying purchased pesto, this dish that combines quick pan-fried zucchini with pesto is a great side dish. I’d love this recipe with any kind of pesto, and I first tried it with the Spinach and Basil Pesto I made when I didn’t have much basil.

Then I made it with my favorite Basil Pesto with Lemon and that was absolutely delicious as well. And if you want to make this extra easy to get on the table, you can definitely make it with my favorite purchased pesto as well. 

If you’re growing a vegetable garden, you may not have zucchini yet, but PIN the recipe now so you can find it in August when the zucchini are in overdrive. For those of you who are lucky enough to have a garden, you can never have too many zucchini recipes, so check after the main recipe for some more zucchini dishes I’ve enjoyed.

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What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

  • zucchini
  • Olive Oil (affiliate link)
  • large cloves of garlic, sliced
  • Pesto
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Can you make this recipe with other summer squash?

Summer squash refers to squash that has a soft skin that can easily be pierced with a fingernail, and this recipe is a perfect way to use any type of summer squash, including yellow crook-neck or straight-neck squash, Patty Pan squash, or other summer squashes.

Want more tasty ideas for using pesto?

Check out My Favorite Low-Carb and Keto Recipes with Pesto for more tasty ideas for using basil pesto!

process shots collage for Zucchini with Pesto

How to make Zucchini with Pesto:

(Scroll down for complete printable recipe with nutritional information.)

  1. Wash zucchini and cut into slices that are about 1/2 inch thick.
  2. Heat the oil and then saute the garlic slices for 1-2 minutes, or until you smell garlic.  (This is called “seasoning the oil” in Chinese cooking.)
  3. Add zucchini to the hot pan, in a single layer if possible.
  4. Cover and cook about 4 minutes, turning the zucchini once or twice so it gets browned on all sides.
  5. Here’s my zucchini the first time I turned them, just starting to get brown.
  6. When I turned them again I was getting more of the nice browned color I wanted. After four minutes, remove lid and cook zucchini a minute or two longer if needed, or until the zucchini is nicely browned and is tender-crisp. 
  7. As soon as it reaches that point, stir in Spinach and Basil Pesto, Basil Pesto with Lemon, my favorite pesto from a jar, or whichever pesto you’re using.
  8. Stir around gently until all the zucchini is coated with pesto, season with salt and fresh ground black pepper, and serve immediately.
See also  Thai Zucchini Noodle Salad | The Recipe Critic

Zucchini with Pesto on serving platter

Ten Amazing Zucchini Recipes to Start Zucchini Season:

Easy Cheesy Zucchini Bake

Garlic-Lover’s Vegetable Stir-Fry

Vegetarian Stuffed Zucchini

Zucchini Bake with Feta and Thyme

How to Grill Zucchini

Zucchini Carpaccio (Raw Zucchini Salad with Lemon, Herbs, and Goat Cheese)

Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad

Roasted Summer Squash with Feta Cheese and Basil

Zucchini Crust Vegetarian Pizza Margherita

Marinated Zucchini Salad


  • 3 medium sized zucchini
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 cup Pesto (see notes)
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


  1. If using pesto that has been refrigerated, remove it and let come to room temperature.
  2. Wash zucchini and trim off ends. Cut zucchini into 1/2 inch slices.  (For larger zucchini, I would cut in half lengthwise and then into slices.
  3. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in large heavy frying pan with lid.
  4. Add garlic cloves and saute 1-2 minutes, just until you start to smell the garlic, then remove garlic cloves and discard.
  5. Add zucchini to hot pan, arranging them in a single layer if possible.
  6. Turn heat to medium, then cover and cook about 4 minutes, turning the zucchini once or twice.
  7. After 4 minutes, check to see if both sides are browned and the squash is getting as tender as you’d like it.
  8. Cook 1-2 more minutes, uncovered, as needed until zucchini is tender-crisp and any liquid is evaporated.
  9. Turn off heat and spoon pesto over zucchini and stir gently. Let it melt for a minute or two, season the zucchini to taste with salt and fresh-ground black pepper, put into serving dish, and serve immediately.

Did you make this recipe?

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating (under the PRINT button in the recipe) or share a photo of your results on Instagram! THANKS!

square image of Zucchini with Pesto on serving platter

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This Zucchini with Pesto is a perfect side dish for any low-carb or Keto diet plan as well as any phase of the original South Beach Diet. Although pesto like this is relatively high in fat, pine nuts and olive oil are both considered “good fat” by South Beach and you’re not eating a huge amount of pesto.

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, or on YouTube to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was first posted in 2007, when I was making pesto with spinach from my garden! The recipe was last updated with more information in 2022.

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