Zucchini Pesto Pressure Cooker Recipe

Zucchini Pesto Pressure Cooker RecipeDon’t tell the picky eater in your household that this pasta sauce is a vitamin-charged Zucchini puree’- at least not until after they take the first bite. Only then should you fess-up to the secret-ingredient!

bItalians often eat thick vegetable puree’s that have small minestrone-type pasta or rice floating in it- it’s almost like a chowder. Since these puree’s usually have a mix of veggies they’re often brown.  About a month ago, as I was preparing this puree with just zucchini and coming up with a compelling argument to get my children to eat it, I realized that the puree is thick and velvety like a pasta sauce.  With a heavier hand of basil and a touch of fresh garlic at the end I had a very, very close facsimile to a creamy pesto sauce.

We tried various combinations, like replacing the water with veggie stock, but arrived at this final recipe for it’s clean flavors and very delicate  zucchininess – according to my children it’s almost pleasant.  Almost… they insist, to keep their anti-zucchini position untarnished, while they spear the pasta with feverish gusto.

This sauce is the perfectly suited for cooking in the small  pan that often comes with a pressure cooker set. The water for spaghetti boils in the stock pot cooker, while the sauce pressure cooks in the small pressure pan.

Don’t have a pressure cooker set? Don’t worry – this recipe will also work in stockpot-type cookers.

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
3 L or larger none 3 min High(2) Normal

5.0 from 4 reviews
Zucchini Pesto - pressure cooker pasta sauce
Nutritional Information
(per serving)
  • Serves: 4 to 6
  • Serving size: 1 portion
  • Calories: 71.4
  • TOTAL Fat: 4.7
  • TOTAL Carbs: 7.5
  • Sugar Carbs: 2
  • Sodium: 586.4
  • Fiber Carbs: 2.3
  • Protein: 1.2
  • Cholesterol: 0
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Make the sauce while the water for spaghetti is coming to a boil, so when you toss in the pasta the sauce is nearly complete.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1½ pounds (750g) zucchini, roughly chopped
  • ½ (125ml) to ¾ cup (185ml) water
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 bunch basil, leaves picked off
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly minced
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  1. In the pre-heated pressure cooker, on medium heat add the oil and onion and saute until the onions begin to become soft (about 4 minutes).
  2. Add the zucchini, salt and water (1/2 cup for stovetop and ¾ cup for electric cookers).
  3. Close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker.
  4. Electric pressure cookers: Cook for 3 minutes at high pressure.
    Stovetop pressure cookers: Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker indicates it has reached high pressure, lower to the heat to maintain it and begin counting 3 minutes pressure cooking time.
  5. When time is up, open the pressure cooker with the Normal release - release pressure through the valve.
  6. Toss in the basil leaves and garlic.
  7. Using an immersion blender puree' the contents of the pressure cooker until all of the garlic and basil are fully incorporated.
  8. Mix with freshly strained pasta and serve immediately with a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil-.
    Yeilds enough sauce for 16oz (500g) pasta package.
This recipe provides 29% recommended daily values of Vitamin A, 15% of Magnase and 13% of Vitamin C per serving - based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

WMF Pressure Cooker

Zucchini Pesto Pressure Cooker Recipe




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  1. O.M.G. what a great idea. One more way to use my super-big zucchini crop!

  2. I went to a vegetarian catered buffet by an Italian caterer and there were half a dozen pasta dishes, each in their own chafing dish, plus a tossed and caear salad…there were green vegetable sauces, made on site, that I saw for the first time. they are a fabulous alternative to red or white sauces. outrageously delicious. thanks for this. welcome to northern california!

  3. Love this! It’s soooooo much healthier than traditional pesto sauce, too.

  4. I just made this for lunch and it was great! I knew my older immersion blender could not handle the sauce, so I used my vitamix blender. I have tried other vegan pestos, but liked this one better because it had a really rich pesto-y flavor and very nice texture to cling to the pasta. So many pesto recipes include large amounts of oil to get the pesto to cling to the pasta and not be too dry. Thanks!

    1. Thanks for sharing your comparison with other vegan pestos and so glad to hear you enjoyed it! The zucchini really does an uncanny job of making things creamy.



  5. This looks great.

    However my pressure cooker manual says that i need to put a minimum of 250ml water. On the other hand Zucchinis should provide lots of water while cooking….

    What do you think ? Thanks

    1. Your manual should always trump any advice you read here, or anywhere else, so you need to take that into consideration.

      If you do decide to take this on, take heed that 750g of zucchini contain nearly 2 cups of liquid!



  6. I tried this recipe yesterday and it turned out well. I think I may have skimped a bit on the basil, how much is a bunch anyway..?

    Next time I will try it on homemade pasta. The store bought stuff doesn’t cut it when paired with subtle sauces like this one.

    1. It looks like you used whole wheat pasta? Maybe the flavor was too strong.

      You are right, I did not mention what a bunch is – you should have about two cups of lightly packed basil leaves. Also, key to flavor is the raw garlic at the end – don’t forget it!!! Don’t worry, it won’t give you dragon-breath the remaining heat from the zucchini cooks it lightly so you get the flavor without the fire. ; )



  7. If one is on an oil free diet- I can saute without the oil- would there be a substitution for the oil at the end?

    thank you- it looks SO good!!!

  8. This sauce is delicious! It had a slightly milder pesto taste to me and I ended up adding a bit more garlic to boost the flavor. Instead of the oil I garnished with sun dried tomatoes and goat cheese. Thanks for another great recipe!

  9. Is there any reason this could not be canned after making? I am new to the electric pressure cooker so for most meals it is just the two of us old folks per meal :)

    1. The basil would not do well in a canner – why not freeze it? The basil may turn black, but all of the flavor will still be there.



  10. I made this last weekend and it was absolutely delicious!!

    I had to convince my husband that green pasta sauce would be good and just one bite convinced him.

    I don’t like zucchini, but now I do!

  11. This is incredible! You are a genius :) Thanks so much!!


  12. Wow. That’s delicious!
    Thanks soooo much for all the work you do.

  13. In Instruction 3, it says close and lock the lid of the pressure cooker. Turn the heat up to high and when the cooker reaches pressure, lower to the heat to the minimum required by the cooker to maintain pressure. Cook for 3 minutes at high pressure.
    I have an Instant Pot, do I start with “High” pressure then reduct to “Low” pressure? Can’t wait to try this :)

    1. Marian, those are instructions for stovetop pressure cookers that need their heat regulated. I’ve just updated the recipe to include specific instructions for electrics. Just choose 3 minutes cooking time on manual mode and cook at high pressure – the electric pressure cooker will automatically adjust the heat. : )



  14. Do you know how many cups of sauce this makes?

  15. Hi Laura. What more can I say but deliciously good. My family just loved the creaminess of this pesto. I added parmasen cheese at the end as well and boy what a dish. I love sauce on my pasta but I must admit this is delicious. I would never have thought of using zucchini to make pesto so I thank you for sharing.

    Take care

  16. Hi Laura I am still having trouble attaching the star rating. I know you said the problem had been fixed but every time I comment and I give a 5 star it shows the stars highlighted but when I hit submit the highlighted stars turn dark and do not attach.

    I will try again now. Not sure what is happening.

    1. Mil, would you mind telling me what kind of web browser and on what device you are using it? If you can include the browser version number so if i have a similar device I can try to replicate the problem.



  17. Hi Laura; Thanks for getting back to me. My Browser is Safari and the Search engine is Google. The operating system is Apple Snow Leopard 10.6. It is probably an old version that doesn’t support the new stuff.

    I guess i am going have to invest in an upgraded system for things to actually work.

    Thanks again for your concern but i think it is on my end.

    Take care

    1. If you pick your own Basil leaves pack in olive oil and freeze in small canning jars. Basil will not turn black. This way you can cook with Basil all winter.

      1. Wow, thanks, Billie! I didn’t know that!!



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