Paleo Pesto Zucchini

Paleo Pesto Zucchini

I’ve got another quickie for ya and if you don’t already own a copy of Pigskin Paleo, you’re in luck! I’ve included my pesto recipe today, but shhhh don’t tell the author. ;)

In preparation for Super Bowl XLVII, I’ll be posting a new game day recipe each day leading up to the big game, to give you some Paleo options for your Super Bowl menu. For more ideas pick up a copy of our book, Pigskin Paleo.

Paleo Pesto Zucchini

A few months back we had a Paleo dinner party with our friends and I brought a few different dishes, including my Primal Parsnip Cupcakes. At the last minute I decided to throw together these Paleo Pesto Zucchini, and I’m so glad I did. The raw, cold, firm zucchini made for an excellent delivery system to get the salty pesto with a hint of cheese straight from the plate to my mouth and they were devoured in minutes by everyone. :)

I tend to make pesto quite regularly. It’s so versatile that you can serve it over almost anything like pork chops, chicken breast, carrots, avocado or really any vegetable. Instead of pine nuts, which typical pesto recipes call for, I use cashews. Pine nuts are actually a seed, they contain slightly less monounsaturated fats than cashews (goal being a higher value here) and quite a bit more polyunsaturated fats than cashews (goal being a lower value here) plus since cashews are larger in size you don’t need as many as you would with pine nuts. And have you seen the cost of those little suckers? Pine nuts in some stores are kept behind a closed and locked case or in some places you have to ask if any are available because they’re kept in the back room, out of sight. That alone tells you that cashews cost less than pine nuts. Plus, since cashews have a more mild taste to them they don’t overpower the flavor when they’re ground down and used to make pesto. So that’s like…win-win-win for the use of cashews!

Who stole the cheese?

If you follow a strict Paleo diet, you may not include cheese, and that’s all good. Simply leave it off and you’ll be done making this snack even faster. However if cheese is cool with you, don’t take that to mean you should cake it on in this recipe. You don’t want to overpower the flavor of the pesto. Less is more in this case. It’s meant to be an accent flavor not a meal.

Manchego cheese is made of sheep’s milk and when I saw it in the store I wanted to try it. Funny thing is at the beginning of the year Mark wrote an article about 14 important nutrient-dense supplemental foods to include in your diet and aged cheese was one of them. Manchego cheese is aged between 60 days and two years. On a quick google search I found a recommendation for substitutes of Manchego cheese to be Pecorino Romano or Asiago, which also happen to be aged cheeses. One of which (Pecorino Romano) Mark mentioned in that same article.

Let’s pause for a salivation break.

Paleo Pesto Zucchini

When you’re looking for a quick snack or you need to bring a quick dish to a party, this one is definitely a winner. Plus it’s a great little finger food.

Paleo Pesto Zucchini

Yield: Serves 1-2


  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1 medium size zucchini
  • manchego cheese, sliced, optional


  1. First we'll make the pesto.
  2. Add cashews and garlic to a food processor.
  3. Add basil to the food processor and blend to mix.
  4. While the blade is running add olive oil until it reaches your desired consistency.
  5. Add salt, a little at a time, and blend around 5 seconds to mix together. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
  6. Clean the zucchini and cut the ends off. With a sharp knife cut the zucchini into thin, long slices. Lay slices on a serving platter.
  7. Spread pesto on each zucchini slice.
  8. Top each zucchini with a slice or two of manchego cheese and you're ready to serve. Note: If you can't find manchego, Pecorino Romano or Asiago are a good substitute.
  9. Enjoy! :)