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Zucchini Gemelli Pasta with Cilantro Pesto

4 Servings

Total Time
25 mins

A seamless blend of Italian and Mexican flavors, this meal is efficient too: The pasta and zucchini cook together in the same pot. Although you can use any pasta you have lying around, a twisted one is best at trapping the pesto and delivering it in every bite.

Zucchini Gemelli Cilantro Pesto

Photo: Aubrie Pick; Styling: Fanny Pan
 12 oz gemelli or other short, twisted pasta
 3 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1⁄4 in. thick
 ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
 2 tsp ground cumin
 1 tsp lime zest
 2 garlic cloves, smashed
 1 ¼ tsp kosher salt
  cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), divided
 2 cups tightly packed cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus about 1⁄4 cup leaves
 3 tbsp lime juice
 ¾ tsp crushed red chile flakes
 ¾ cup crumbled cotija cheese, divided

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until barely tender, about 8 minutes, then add zucchini. Cook until pasta is al dente and zucchini barely tender, about 3 minutes (it will continue to cook off the heat). Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water.


Meanwhile, put oil, cumin, lime zest, garlic, salt, and 1/2 cup pepitas in a blender and blend until smooth. Add 2 cups cilantro; process just until smooth, about 15 seconds. Pour into a bowl and stir in lime juice, chile flakes, and 1/2 cup cotija.


Return pasta and zucchini to warm pot. Toss with cilantro pesto and pour in enough pasta water to loosen. Divide among 4 wide bowls, then sprinkle with remaining cotija, cilantro, and pepitas.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1

Servings 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 892Calories from Fat 527
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 60g93%

Saturated Fat 12g60%
Cholesterol 22.5mg8%
Sodium 980mg41%
Total Carbohydrate 72g24%

Dietary Fiber 6g24%
Protein 24g48%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.