YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Zucchini with Cilantro Pesto

Thank you to Terry Walters and Clean Start for this beautiful, inspired recipe. It’s the kind of recipe many of whose ingredients, or at least some, may already be on your counter, and it’s got all kinds of valuable substitution possibilities that can keep you experimenting for a good long while.

Cilantro has powerful flavor, and it’s exceptionally rich in phytonutrients, flavonoids, and some volatile oils that may even have antibiotic properties. If your family goes crazy for cilantro, not a speck will be left afterward. And if you decide to make it for company, your guests will remember what a great cook you are for a long, long time!


  • 1 1/2 c. fresh cilantro
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 3 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. pine nuts, toasted lightly
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow summer squash

1) Puree pesto ingredients until well blended. Place in a large bowl and set aside.

2) Slice 2 medium zucchini and 1 medium yellow summer squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out and discard seeds. Either slice the squash into half moons as thin as humanly possible (with either your knife, or a mandoline if you have one), or cut it into long slender matchsticks, or turn it into long ribbons of “pasta” squash. Your choice.

3) Add a steamer rack to a saucepan with 1 inch of water, and bring to boil. Immediately add the squash to the steamer rack, cover the pot, and cook 3 minutes or until just tender. Try not to overcook, and remember that it will continue to cook a little bit more after you remove it from the heat.

4) Add cooked squash to the bowl of pesto and toss well. Decorate with additional pine nuts, and serve.

If you get a yen to try some substitutions, try parsley instead of cilantro, or switch in lime for the lemon, or raw cashews for the pine nuts, or steamed baby artichokes for the zucchini. This pesto is the best thing ever on roasted tomatoes, or pasta, too, of course. Enjoy!



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