This aromatic, sweet, and mildly peppery tarragon pesto is the perfect pairing for sautéed, al dente zucchini noodles – and so much more. Slather it on grilled chicken, fold into a salad, or drizzle over roasted potatoes.
We’ve had a string of truly perfect late summer/early fall days over here in western Maryland. The days are warm, but not hot, with clear blue skies, and the nights are cool and crisp. Intellectually I know that fall has basically arrived, but given our current situation it’s been pretty easy to keep hanging onto endless summer. And I’m totally okay with this. In celebration of endless summer, I present you with this recipe for tarragon pesto over zoodles.
ZOODLES! It’s such a fun word, yes? And zucchini noodles are equally fun (and delicious) to eat, particularly when they’re slathered in a savory, nutty pesto. Zoodles and tarragon pesto are a match made in foodie heaven, and I’m gonna tell you why. First of all, cooking zucchini noodles can be a bit challenging. If you season them with salt before cooking, they release a crap ton of liquid and become a gloppy mess. On the other hand, if you cook ’em naked, they’re pretty bland. So saucing is essential.
While zucchini loves to get cozy with any number of fresh herbs, the heavily aromatic tarragon in this pesto is particularly dazzling. It borders on pungent on its own, so I chilled it out with some chives and parsley and the resulting flavor balance is pretty close to summer perfection.
Tarragon Pesto Recipe Notes
If you’ve been a reader of this blog for any length of time, you’ll notice that this is the section where I tell you to customize to your little foodie heart’s desire, and even provide a suggestion or five. But in this case? I honestly do not believe this recipe could be improved with any reasonable alterations. It’s pretty darn close to perfect, so just don’t change it, k?
That being said, tarragon pesto would be amazeballs on a number of consumables beyond zoodles. Slather it on some grilled chicken (or better yet, making tarragon pesto chicken pizza with homemade ricotta), sub the zoodles for bucatini, add it to breakfast polenta, fold it into an egg and lobster salad, or drizzle it over roasted potatoes. I’d really love to use this on an eggs benny, and with that thought, I think I know what my Sunday morning is going to look like.
Pesto comes together in a snap with the aid of a food processor. I’ve had my trusty Cuisinart for well over a decade and she’s still going strong (even though she looks like she’s been through war…which, to be honest, is sort of true). If you’re an appliance minimalist, a blender will work just fine. For smaller portioned pestos like this one, I sometimes reach for my Ninja Blender and use a single portion cup. The clean-up is super easy and it’s just the right size.
If you’re going for the zoodles version below, you definitely need to take the extra few minutes to prepare the burst tomatoes. They truly complete the dish, and who doesn’t love the sweet, satisfying pop of a burst tomato? The shaved parmesan is totally optional. It adds a nice sharpness, but leave it out for a vegan or paleo option. Toss in some grilled chicken if you need extra protein or want this to stretch into a bigger meal. Cam and I had this for lunch as-is and were perfectly sated through dinner.
This aromatic, sweet, and mildly peppery tarragon pesto is the perfect pairing for sautéed zucchini noodles, grilled chicken, oven roasted potatoes, and so much more. It's a fast, easy and satisfying Paleo and Whole30 condiment.
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 1/2 c. chopped tarragon fresh leaves
- 1/4 c. chopped chives fresh, raw
- 1/4 c. chopped parsley fresh leaves
- 1 clove garlic smashes
- 1/2 lemon zested and juiced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the pine nuts and toast, stirring or shaking continuously, until the pine nuts are golden brown and fragrant, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool while you chop the herbs.
Add the tarragon, chives, parsley and pine nuts to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 20-30 seconds, until the herbs and nuts are minced. Add the garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt and pulse 10-15 more seconds, until all ingredients are incorporated.
Flip the food processor to continuous and add the olive oil through the feed tube. Process until the ingredients are fully incorporated and smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and cracked black pepper if desired.
Zoodles with Tarragon Pesto
Zucchini noodles with this savory, slightly spicy tarragon pesto are a perfect paleo late summer match! Omit the cheese to stay 100% compliant, or add a touch of raw parmesan and live on the wild side.
- 2 tbsp avocado or olive oil divided
- 4 medium zucchini julienned
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes whole
- 1/4 c. shaved parmesan cheese (optional)
Julienne the zucchini flesh, stopping once you get to the seedy, soft interior. A handheld julienne peeler or mandoline makes this job quick and easy. A spiralizer can also be used.
Heat a skillet to medium high heat and add 1 tsp avocado oil to the pan. Heat until the oil shimmers. Add the zucchini noodles to the pan in batches, about a quarter to a third at a time. Pan sear the noodles, tossing with tongs, until they are soft and barely starting to brown at the edges, 2-3 minutes. Remove the batch of noodles from the pan, add another scant teaspoon of oil, and repeat until all of the noodles are cooked.
Add the remaining tbsp of avocado oil to the pan and heat until it shimmers. Add the tomatoes to the hot oil and saute, shaking continuously, until the tomatoes cook through and start to burst, 4-5 minutes.
Toss the cooked zucchini noodles with the tomatoes and pesto. Divide between 4 plates and serve immediately.
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