Creamy Basil Pesto with Penne and Zucchini

One of the benefits to living at home is that I have access to lots of fresh herbs and vegetables right from my own garden.  Every summer, my favorite herb to use by far is fresh basil.  Yesterday, I had the worst craving for pesto and I looked outside to see over grown basil in the pot and immediately knew what I was cooking for dinner.

Creamy Basil Pesto with Penne and Zucchini


  • 2 small zucchinis
  • ¼ cup to ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of fresh basil
  • ½ cup to ¾ cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream
  • 8 ounces of penne 

Boil the water and cook the pasta to al dente.  Reserve ¼ cup of pasta water.  Chop zucchini into bite size pieces.  Zest and juice a lemon in two separate small bowls. Chop 2 cloves of garlic.  Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add garlic and ½ teaspoon of lemon zest for 30 seconds to a minute or fragrant.  Add zucchini, salt, and pepper.  Sauté until cooked and add 1 tsp of lemon juice at the end of cooking.  Place zucchini in a bowl.

In a food processor, chop fresh basil finely. Add 2 cloves of garlic, pepper, and pine nuts and chop until well mixed together.  Scrape down sides of food processor if necessary. Drizzle olive oil into food processor while it is on low speed until mixture is completely blended together.  Put pesto in a bowl and mix in parmesan cheese until combined.

It a pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a half cup of pesto. Stir vigorously with a whisk and add in 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and continue to stir.  Once the mixture thickens, turn off heat and add pasta and zucchini.  Combine and serve.


This was a great and simple dish, definitely try it 🙂 Hope you all have a great weekend!


About Emily

musings of a twenty-something.
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2 Responses to Creamy Basil Pesto with Penne and Zucchini

  1. Oooh, I love basil! I think we have some growing in our backyard, but no one really pays attention to anything once it’s planted, so it’s most likely dead 😦

  2. This looks awesome- I’m pinning it to my entree board 🙂

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