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Pistachio Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles + Cherries {giveaway!}

Summaaaa’ time!!

Ohhh, how I am loving summer. It just tastes SO GOOD.

Pistachio Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles + Cherries | #vegan #glutenfree

While we didn’t try our hand at gardening again this year we’ve still been enjoying mounds of fresh, summery produce. Maybe next year I’ll magically acquire a green thumb. Or maybe my friends who make it look so easy can come sprinkle their garden magic in my backyard. Pretty please?

In all honesty, I haven’t given gardening the best effort. It seems like such a daunting task when there are so many other house chores that need to be kept up with. Maybe once I finish weeding the cracks between the sidewalk for the 3rd time this summer I’ll start a garden.

I know it’s possible and I should just start small, but I shudder at the thought of adding more to-do’s to my schedule. It’s obviously the starting of the garden that’s the most daunting part, but I’ve had a major lack of gardening motivation. You all make it look so effortless! So this year I’ll leave it up to the locals who really know what they’re doing. Thank you green thumb gardeners. You kind of rule.

Pistachio Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles + Cherries | #vegan #glutenfree

Now. Say hello to my new favorite pesto. The pesto that has little bits of crunchy roasted pistachios, bright and flavorful notes of basil [okay, I do have a basil plant at home!], healthy and vibrant green kale, tangy fresh lemon, and zesty garlic.

The pistachios give this an extra punch of nuttiness, rendering the typical parmesan addition pretty unnecessary. Sure you could add it if you like, but I promise you won’t even realize it’s missing.

Pistachio Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles + Cherries | #vegan #glutenfree

Everyone seems to be zucchini-noodle-obsessed this year and I have to say I’m totally on board. I prefer to shred the zucchini and then eat the noodles raw with a fresh tomato sauce or pesto. When you cook the thin strands they have the tendency to create a mushy, watery texture. But when left raw you get a nice bit of crunch and so much freshness.

Pistachio Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles + Cherries | #vegan #glutenfree

The healthy fats in the pesto combined with the bulk from the zucchini noodles will help fill up your stomach without weighing you down.

Pistachio Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles + Cherries | #vegan #glutenfree

To give this dish a little something extra I’ve added a pile of organic sweet cherries. The contrast between sweet and savory and the juiciness from the cherries creates a guaranteed happy dance in your mouth.

Pistachio Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles + Cherries | #vegan #glutenfree

I’ve teamed up with Whole Foods for this post [they helped fund my ingredients!] to give a little love to organic cherry season. I was tasked with creating a recipe utilizing sweet cherries. Although this recipe is quite simple, the cherries are a crucial component in balancing the flavors, and I just love the slightly crunchy but also soft texture they add.

Sometimes simplicity is best.

The cool part about all of this? Whole Foods is offering a $50 gift card to one lucky reader! You know you want to buy pounds + pounds of these ruby red gems while they’re still in season! Giveaway details below!

Pistachio Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles + Cherries | #vegan #glutenfree

Print this!

inspired by and adapted from: The Vibrant Table - zucchini spaghetti with pumpkin seed pesto + peaches, via The First Mess

Pistachio Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles + Cherries gluten-free, vegan // yields 4 servings

for the pesto:

  • 3 medium-sized lacinato [dino] kale leaves, torn from the stem
  • 1 small/medium garlic clove, peeled
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup roasted shelled pistachios, if salted nix adding salt to the recipe or very little to taste
  • 1/2 lemon, zested
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/3+ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

for the dish:

  • 4-5 small/medium zucchini, 1 1/2-inch diameter max
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup pitted and chopped/sliced cherries
  • lemon zest and pistachios, to top

Place a few inches of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Just before boiling prepare an ice bath [water + ice] in a mixing bowl. Once boiling place kale leaves in the water for 30 seconds – 1 minute. Remove and immediately place in the ice bath to halt cooking. Remove kale and pat dry.

Place the garlic in your large food processor and turn on to mince. Scrape the sides. Add in the dried kale, basil, pistachios [cooled if you just roasted them], lemon zest, and lemon juice. Pulse about 20 times until well chopped.

Turn the processor on and slowly stream in the olive oil through the top. Scrape the sides as needed and stream in more oil to reach your desired pesto consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste and pulse a few more times. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.

Place zucchini over a large bowl and use a julienne peeler [regular peeler for wide noodles, spiralizer, mandolin, etc.] to create the noodles. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top and toss to coat. Spoon pesto over the noodles and toss with your fingers or two forks to coat. Add more pesto as needed.

Top with chopped pistachios, halved cherries, and a bit of lemon zest. Serve immediately. Best eaten right away [the noodles release a bit of liquid and soften] but it can be stored for about 1 day. Leave cherries and pistachios off until just before eating.

Notes: I like using thinner zucchini as the larger in diameter the more water there tends to be towards the center. It’s likely you won’t be able to julienne the entire zucchini without slicing your fingers off, so chop up what’s left and place in the fridge to roast or grill in the next day or so. Or, throw in a smoothie. You won’t taste it!

If using raw pistachios roast in an oven preheated to 300* for 12-15 minutes. Turn once or twice. Let fully cool before using.

Pistachio Kale Pesto with Zucchini Noodles + Cherries | #vegan #glutenfree

The noodles actually twirl! How cool is that?


Giveaway details:

  • winner will receive - 1, $50 gift card to Whole Foods

To enter: Leave a comment below telling me your favorite way to use cherries OR how you’ve made gardening a part of your daily routine.

Giveaway ends: 7/20/14 at 12pm EST

Good luck!


Reader Comments (317)

I love cherries in so many ways, but my favorite is cherry crisp with a crunchy, oat-y, buttery topping!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatie
I actually don't like cherries, but sometimes they sneak into my frozen berry mix for smoothies!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarah G
This time of year just eating cherries raw might be the best, but last year I made "maraschino" cherries and they were AMAZING.
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterallisonemme
I just made a banana cherry smoothie (inspired by your cherry drink) and it was delicious! Also, just eating the raw is the best.
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
SO PERFECT. i just bought pistachios. and loving the zucchini noodles!!!!!!!!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermolly yeh
I LOVE cherries! I really prefer to eat them plain but also enjoy them in smoothies - or anything else!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEmily
I haven't decided what I'm going to make with the cherries I froze from my CSA yet! There's too many great looking recipes! I might just have to make this one though. And, I gave herb growing another go and I haven't killed them yet! (I have a black thumb)
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlyssa M
My favorite way to eat cherries is straight from the bag, followed by a pit-spitting contest with anyone up to the challenge!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatie
I love that you are easily amused! GAH! This dish is simply stunning and bursting with summer produce!
Despite my aching back, I just can't imagine not having my garden. Just this morning, still in my pj's, I picked fresh spinach, kale, beet greens, basil & mint leaves, while munching away on the first raspberries of the season. Back indoors I added a mango, a banana, an avocado & some almond milk soaked chia seeds to my fresh green pickins and made a super breakfast smoothie. I have my own private organic grocery just outside my door. Tonight I will go back to my garden to pick tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh lettuce for my dinner salad. LOVE my backyard!!!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTherese Arsenault
I really just love eating cherries raw straight from the bag. They are the best!!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
I'm with you - gardening seems a bit daunting and I don't have the best green thumb. Great dish! As for cherries, I love mine best in a bread pudding.
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenternaomi
Just put pitted cherries on my salad the other day and it was amazing! :)
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHana
I love a handful of ripe red cherries with cottage cheese!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKelly G.
I use cherries in so many different ways. Outside of popping them straight into my mouth and enjoying the sweet burst of juice, I love using them in a Cherries and Chicken dish. I also made a cherry BBQ sauce this spring that was delicious.
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn
WHAT?! I'm so intrigued by the addition of cherries, this looks incredible! I love just eating a big bowl of cherries. I find them to be such a pain to cut up but also I'd rather just dive in and eat them!
love them in a good blue cheese, chicken poppyseed dressed salad
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercori
My husband's favorite breakfast is cherries and kefir. But last week he had his wisdom teeth removed and was frustrated that he couldn't eat solid food for several day. I surprised him with a cherry, kefir, avocado smoothie. His smile was worth all the effort. And, of course, the cherries came from Whole Foods!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
fresh and raw!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTheresa
I plan on making baby good this fall and have been. Working in our garden while on leave to support this plan :)
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSarah Evener
I've been loving cherries in ice cream, yes!
I love frozen cherries on a sweltering hot day!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKwan
I water the garden in the morning while letting our dog roam around the backyard. She loves the inspect all the plants :)
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
Straight into my mouth! Or cherry cordials.
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBecki @ Bites 'n Brews
My favorite way to eat cherries is by themselves, while sitting on a beach somewhere.
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney Grace
I just made the best cherry chocolate baked oats!
My family loves to make kolaches -- a czech pastry with cherry filling! Yum!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMegan
I have to eat cherries straight out of the bag, but this actually is a very tempting combo of flavors! I have also been adding cherries into morning yogurt parfaits for the sweet burst of flavor with plain yogurt.
My favorite way to eat cherries is in a smoothie. I love smoothies with cherries and cocoa powder!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
Maybe it makes me boring, but I really love eating cherries raw! (Although I won't turn down cherry pie... need to find a good GF version).
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTherese
Grilled corriander-rubbed tilapia with a cherry, red onion and jalapeno salsa!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLauren
I love to eat cherries on their own, but my favorite thing I ever made with cherries was a traditional cherry pie with a lattice top. Last weekend, a friend hosted a brunch and threw them in a fruit salad dressed with rose water. Super tasty.
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKim M.
This is my first year growing a big garden. We have four zucchini plants (along with tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, spinach, lettuce and basil), and I have to say, they are prolific! We have at least 6 (large!) zucchinis in our fridge now, and I have already made zucchini stir fry, zucchini bread, and have been eating a lot of zucchini noodles lately. If you are interested in starting a garden, I would recommend zucchini because it's very easy and quick to grow; but be warned the leaves are huge and you will likely have to prune it so it doesn't block sunlight from other plants. Lettuce is also easy to grow; it requires little maintenance and can be harvested about a month after planting. And, if you trim lettuce from the stem (rather than pulling it out from its roots), it will grow back, which means you have an essentially endless supply of lettuce. :) If you do decide to start a garden in the future, good luck!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAudrey
I use cherries in smoothies, cocktails, or I eat them raw.
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle
My garden thrived this year, and I totally credit my son! He loves to be outside and we go out every evening when I get home from work, he's out there playing and I weed and water. Now to just get him to eat all those wonderful veggies. . .
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer
When I'm not eating them by the handful for breakfast in the morning, I like my cherries in a clafoutis or a strudel.
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermaja
I live in a town home so - no yard! And I am a bit too busy to maintain an entire garden but I love fresh herbs and tomatoes. So, container gardening is working for me. I mix herbs, oregano and thyme this year, in with flowers to add color. I plant two tomato plants for me and a pepper plant for my husband. I have found that regular tomatoes do not work in my containers so I stick with cherry tomatoes. This year I found an heirloom variety of apricot tomatoes, also a small tomato. I am excited to see how they taste! They are all growing well and I have marigolds in the tomato pots for color.
Thanks for the recipe! Cynthia
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia T
This recipe looks so delicious! I usually eat cherries straight out of the bowl; I never think to add them to savory dishes, but it sounds yummy.
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHeather
My family loves making a cherry jello salad - not very fancy but quite tasty. I'm with you on the gardening front...maybe next year when life is not in so much transition!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMC
I just made cherry vanilla ice cream and I've also been loving cherries in my oatmeal! This meal looks delicious and gorgeous!
My favorite way to eat cherries lately is sprinkled over my homemade coconut yogurt. It adds the perfect tartness.
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJade Sheldon-Burnsed
I love eating cherries plain but they are also great on top of vanilla bean ice cream!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAly
I'm with you on the gardening thing. I bought a "Salad Bowl" planter from Whole Foods and am SO BAD at remembering to water it. I'm mainly a cherry purist -- I just eat em raw, but a cherry pie is hard to pass up :)
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLauren
Honestly - prime, just-picked, organic cherries only get eaten one way in my house :
Immediately and without fanfare! ;) Popped right in.

However, when others go to more trouble, there is nothing in the pastry family stuffed with in-season cherries I would ever turn down. NOTHING!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterstephanie
i like them plain best!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdana
Cherries never make it past there natural form in my house - I love them to much and immediately start eating them fresh from the Farmers Market.
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura @ She Eats Well
I use fresh cherries in my malted sweet cherry pie with homemade cornmeal crust. Everything is made from scratch and tastes fresh and delicious straight out of the oven! No ice cream necessary but can be added :).
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSana K
My favorite way to use cherries is probably in a pie or tart. Or in jam. Or just eating them plain. :)
Besides eating cherries just as they are, I like to mix them into chocolate cherry milk shakes. They don't last long enough, usually, to make it into a shake. I've also made gardening a part of my daily routine by giving my daughter her own plants to check on, water and weed. Easy plants like, tomatos, basil, rosemary and ginger. We love gardening together!
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDusty Harms
I just made a cherry crostini with mint and honey goat cheese ( that I'm basically addicted to! Can't wait to try your recipe.
July 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCara Greenstein

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