Pesto Zucchini Noodles with Broccoli and Bacon

Pesto Zucchini Noodles

You may have guessed that those “noodles” aren’t really pasta, but julienned zucchini. Zucchini noodles are a great alternative if you’re eating paleo, gluten-free, or low-carb. I feel like I’m the last one in the blogosphere to try them out.

Why did I wait so long? A mandoline, my friends. I was holding out for a mandoline. After asking around on Twitter doing some serious research, I found one that I liked, and after multiple uses, I still like it. If you’ve never used a mandoline slicer, you’re missing out on some seriously cool slicing action. And perhaps having a finger nearly sliced off. Given my track record with sharp objects, I probably shouldn’t be allowed to use a mandoline. I’ve been good about using the guard, though. No blood shed. . . yet. At the end of 2015 I finally got this spiralizer, and I’ve been happily using that instead of the julienne attachment on my mandoline.

To prepare the “noodles” I used a technique I saw in Vegetable Harvest by Patricia Wells where she sprinkled the julienned zucchini with salt and let it rest in a colander to extract the moisture. In that particular recipe, she just tossed it with a simple creamy dressing and was finished. I squeezed it out a little, then threw it in a pan for a few minutes to warm up.

I was surprised at how the texture and appearance of the zucchini resembled actual pasta. I think I even giggled a few times. My kids were hesitant (I’m still trying to get them to like zucchini. Tonight we made some progress!) but I think after a few tries they’ll be slurping up those “noodles” like nobody’s business.

Especially if it’s got bacon sprinkled in it. Bacon is my insurance if I’m not sure if something will turn out well. Throw a little bacon in and a mediocre dish will rise to “pretty good” status. Instantly.

I really don’t think I needed the insurance with this, though.

Pesto Zucchini Noodles

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Pesto Zucchini Noodles

Total Time: about 30 minutes


4 medium zucchini, julienned thinly (mandoline slicers are great for this)
generous pinch of salt
6 slices of uncooked bacon
1/2 cup green onions, sliced into 1-inch pieces
2 cups broccoli florets
2-3 T prepared basil pesto
Fresh Parmesan or Romano cheese, for garnish


Place zucchini strips in a colander over a bowl or in the sink. Sprinkle zucchini with salt and toss to combine. Let the zucchini sit for 15 minutes while the salt extracts the moisture. Drain excess water, squeezing zucchini, if necessary.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp, turning frequently. Remove bacon to a stack of paper towels to drain. Crumble bacon. Remove all but 2 T of bacon drippings from the pan.

Return the pan to medium heat. Add the green onions and broccoli, stirring frequently for about 3-5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add zucchini and 2 T of pesto, tossing to combine all ingredients. Taste and add more pesto, if needed. The mixture only needs to warm up, so 2-3 minutes of cooking ought to do it.

Serve with bacon crumbles and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Serves 4.

from Perry's Plate

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70 Responses to “Pesto Zucchini Noodles with Broccoli and Bacon”

  1. #
    April — August 5, 2011 @ 5:00 am

    Man, that looks really good!! I've got a mandolin… in a drawer… somewhere


  2. #
    Natalie — August 5, 2011 @ 5:11 am

    April – Quick! Get it out!


  3. #
    pinksuedeshoe — August 5, 2011 @ 5:46 am

    That looks amazing! People keep leaving me zucchini on my porch, I'm trying this on Sunday! Have you ever tried Spaghetti Squash? I like it like a hundred times more than actual pasta. But man, in the summer zucchini is free! (also, please dear neighbors stop with the vegetable offerings, there is only one person here who will eat it!)


    • Ems replied: — June 8th, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

      “People keep leaving me zucchini on my porch.”

      This concerns me. I would not eat that if I were you.

  4. #
    Cara — August 5, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

    Zucchini Noodles are a favorite in our house! We love them with a fresh tomato sauce, sauteed shrimp and goat cheese :)


  5. #
    carlyklock — August 5, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

    Sounds as good a reason as any for me to go out and buy a mandoline! Thanks for sharing.


  6. #
    Christina — August 5, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

    I've GOT to the try this! Wish you lived closer so I could drop off 100 pounds of zucchini on your doorstep ;)



  7. #
    Rivki Locker (Ordinary Blogger) — August 5, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

    If you hadn't mentioned this wasn't real pasta, I'd never have known.
    I got a mandoline recently and even though I don't use it often, it's a great tool.


  8. #
    Lauren's Latest — August 5, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

    I totally throw bacon into dishes I'm unsure of too! It works like a charm…


  9. #
    Lauren's Latest — August 5, 2011 @ 3:19 pm

    I totally throw bacon into dishes I'm unsure of too! It works like a charm…


  10. #
    Joanne — August 5, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

    Alright, so my next foodie splurge purchase needs to be a mandoline. Got it.


  11. #
    Jodi — August 5, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

    OK-silly question. Did you peel the zucchini first?


  12. #
    DancingMooney ♥ — August 5, 2011 @ 11:09 pm

    I keep thinking I'd slice a finger off too, using one of those things, but I bet they are handy and fun too…


  13. #
    Ann — August 5, 2011 @ 11:36 pm

    Incredible! I have a friend who is a serious low-carber…I'm going to forward this to her. I have a mandolin, but it only slices…so the julienne, I'd have to do by hand…but that's okay!

    This looks absolutely amazing! Congratulations on another winner!


  14. #
    myfudo — August 7, 2011 @ 1:50 am

    We love pasta. I wish I can always get in touch with you to have more of your brilliant tips and recipes


  15. #
    megcjones — August 8, 2011 @ 3:27 pm

    these look just great! i'm terrified of mandolines – we had to use one in my culinary class last week and i made somebody else in my group do it. i'm just sure i'll slice a finger off. but then i see dishes like this and get all jealous…which mandoline did you end up getting?


  16. #
    Natalie — August 8, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

    Jodi – No, I didn't peel it. I think it might be easier to slice with the peel on, but peeling would be fine, too.

    megcjones – If you use the guard you have nothing to worry about :) I ended up getting the Progressive one. I linked to it within the post. It's pretty inexpensive (under $20) and I was surprised how sturdy and sharp it was for the price.


  17. #
    Amy — August 8, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

    This is perfect timing. I just posted my menu plan for this week and I wanted to make zucchini "spaghetti". I was just going to wing it, but this is even better!

    Amy @ A Little Nosh


  18. #
    Andra — August 8, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

    I use my Titan Peeler for this, the julienne peeler that comes in the set is perfect for zucchini pasta! Plus it's nice that I can throw it in the drawer when it's not in use, no extra parts. They do make an extra stand that makes the peeler into more of a mandolin, but I've found it to be unnecessary.


  19. #
    Natalie — August 8, 2011 @ 10:34 pm

    Amy – I've been known to read minds via food. :)

    Andra – The Titan peeler! I totally forgot about that little gadget. Yes, I can totally see the space-saving advantage of having one of those!


  20. #
    Terri @ that's some good cookin' — August 10, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

    Ooooooooooo, Natalie. I think you totally nailed this one. Yum.


  21. #
    Natalie — August 10, 2011 @ 11:19 pm

    Terri – Thanks! Honestly… I think I did, too. And the funny thing is that I wasn't trying to "develop" anything. I threw it together one night for my kids when the hubs had to work late. Love it when great things happen without a lot of forethought!


  22. # — August 17, 2011 @ 8:21 pm

    This looks wonderful! The broccoli/Parmesan/bacon combo sounds great. I eat low carb and have tried zucchini ribbons before, but I've never tried it this way. I guess I need to get a mandoline!


  23. #
    Sammi D. — August 27, 2011 @ 12:22 am

    Tried this tonight…fantastic! My roommate hardly ever eats zucchini and she even loved it. :)


  24. #
    Natalie — August 27, 2011 @ 1:02 am

    ourlifeinfood – I've never tried zucchini ribbons!

    Glad you liked it Sammi (and roommate!) It's definitely a twist on zucchini, isn't it?


  25. #
    MaggiC — August 27, 2011 @ 8:51 pm

    I just bought a mandolin for the purpose of making zucchini spaghetti. I am so happy i came across this recipe! I am making this for dinner tonight


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  27. #
    Jessy — January 23, 2012 @ 5:02 am

    I’d swear that was real spaghetti in the photo (+ zucchini)!?


  28. Pingback: Meal Idea Monday: Introducing Perry’s Plate and Pesto Zucchini “Spaghetti” « Food Tidings Blog

  29. #
    Sarah — May 7, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

    Just made this for dinner! Absolutely delicious!


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  31. #
    Monica B. — February 20, 2013 @ 9:07 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever told you how much I love this recipe. I make this all. the. time. Probably too much, but, whatever.


  32. Pingback: Pesto Zucchini “Spaghetti” | preferablypaleo

  33. #
    Becca — March 19, 2013 @ 9:19 am

    Amazing! A new instant fave… even got my husband to consider paleo


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  36. #
    Wendy McGehee — July 17, 2013 @ 7:33 am

    I am planning on making this dish this week. Curious as to where I can find a good recipe for homemade basil pesto??? Been looking through your site and couldn’t find it.


    • Natalie Perry replied: — July 20th, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

      Hi Wendy,

      I don’t think I have a traditional basil pesto recipe on my site, but Google would definitely have answers for you. Most basil pesto is just fresh basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Good luck! I hope you like this recipe!

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  38. #
    Kimberly — August 28, 2013 @ 9:19 pm

    We made stir-fry the other night and I julienne peeled the zucchini and yellow squash. At dinner, Andrew asked if I had put noodles in the stir fry! I thought it was hilarious and made a secret pact to myself that I would do this some day and not tell him (not that he would mind anyway). Then I saw your post! Sounds perfect. We’ll try this instead :)


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  42. #
    Jane C — January 5, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

    Hey I tried this for the first time this evening and it is so good! I bought a mandelane especially and glad I did. Thanks for the recipie, I’ll definitely be using it again!


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  44. #
    Jenbetweendots — February 2, 2014 @ 9:57 am

    This looks delicious – I’ll be making it tonight :)

    For those who don’t have a mandolin, you can also use a vegetable peeler and just peel the zucchini into long strips – it’s more of a fettucini type ‘noodle’ but still tastes great!


    • Natalie Perry replied: — February 4th, 2014 @ 1:27 pm

      Yes! Thanks Jen!

  45. #
    Ameshia — February 28, 2014 @ 8:46 pm

    This was my first experience with zucchini spaghetti. Your picture sold me on the idea. I bought an as seen on TV thing to julienne the veggie. The recipe was Amazing. I will definitely use this recipe again and continue with the veggie spaghetti. Thanks


  46. #
    Anne — March 1, 2014 @ 3:28 pm

    this was delicious ! Wondering how much of the salt is ingested ?? I used a julienne tool and it worked great, also turkey bacon. Great dish.


  47. #
    Ivy — April 17, 2014 @ 5:54 pm

    I made this tonight & it was delicious!! I just bought the Pederno spiral vegetable slicer & it worked perfect!! Thanks for the great recipe.


  48. #
    Gina — April 21, 2014 @ 7:02 pm

    Just made this. It was AMAZING. I’m on Weight Watchers and have had success substituting high-fiber pasta for regular, but this is a total game-changer. I made it with crushed tomatoes and basil to cut out the added fat in the pesto and it was delish. Thanks for sharing!


  49. #
    Leah — April 30, 2014 @ 3:31 pm

    Hi! I
    I ordered the progressive slicer just for this recipe…I noticed there is a thick julienne and a thin julienne option…which do you use?



    • Natalie Perry replied: — April 30th, 2014 @ 3:42 pm

      Great, Leah!! You’ll love it. I use the thin julienne for noodles and slaws. Come to think of it, I’ve never used the thick julienne blade. Enjoy!

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  51. #
    michele — May 26, 2014 @ 1:46 am

    i made this tonight it was delicious. what a great base for pasta dishes!


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  55. #
    Ashley — July 6, 2014 @ 7:39 pm

    Just wanted to let you know I made this for my husband and myself tonight and it was wonderful!!! I didn’t use bacon (for health reasons) so I sliced up some cherry tomatoes and mixed them with olive oil and garlic and roasted them, then also chopped some portobello mushrooms up and sautéed them in place of the bacon. Just tossed it all together in the end. It was delicious, although I’m sure the bacon is 1000x better! But we’ll definitely be having it again!

    Thanks for the awesome recipe! I’m bookmarking your page! :-)


  56. #
    Fanny — July 16, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

    We tried this recipe today, and we absolutely loved it! I altered it a bit – we didn’t use broccoli (as it isn’t in season and I can’t find it anywhere), and added thin slices of sundried tomatoes. My boyfriend was thrilled – we will certainly make it again! A winner!


    • Fanny replied: — July 16th, 2014 @ 3:15 pm

      I might add we’re on a keto diet, and we live in Italy, where most people eat pasta every day, and for me this is a lifesaving substitute for all those carbs, and a great way to add extra fat in a dish, with lots of cheese,olive oil and butter fried bacon :)

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  58. #
    Laura Mitchell — September 12, 2014 @ 8:14 am

    Tried this last night and really liked it. I will definitely make again. Using the mandolin took the most time; everything else was a snap. I was very cautious, though. My mother hurt herself very badly on one when she tried to use it without the guard – won’t make that mistake!


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  62. #
    Amanda L — July 11, 2016 @ 9:23 am

    I am really wanting to try this recipe but I do not have a mandolin! I do however have the kitchen aid spiralizer attachment. Do you think that would serve the same purpose? 

    Thanks! This recipe looks incredible.


    • Natalie Perry replied: — July 11th, 2016 @ 11:49 am

      Oh you don’t need a mandoline. I posted this before the spiralizer craze, so spiralize away with your attachment! Enjoy!

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