Zucchini Pesto ‘Pasta’ with Chia Mushroom ‘Meatballs’ {Vegan}

Zucchini Pesto Pasta with Chia Mushroom Meatballs {Vegan}

Summer is in full swing and if you have a little garden or a few pots with herbs there’s a good chance you have fresh basil waiting to be used in a dish like this. If you don’t have a basil plant, go get one! All you need is a little pot, a sunny spot and some water. When you’ve got fresh basil you’re already 90% there to making the best pesto and once you’ve made your own pesto you will never buy the store made stuff again. I like my pesto fresh and lemony – it just screams summer. And having it over zucchini ‘noodles’ leaves you feeling cool and energized  (not in a carb coma).  It’s amazing how we eat with our eyes first. This dish really puts that to the test with some serious mind-trickery. The zucchini ‘noodles’ aren’t noodles at all but shaped to look just like them and when cut like this they really taste just like noodles to me – it’s crazy! And these meatballs look just like the real deal (but taste much better). They are packed full of flavor with fresh herbs and seasonings and have the most perfect meatball texture. Something I learned back when I made these, using soaked chia seeds to hold together all the good stuff.

Zucchini Pesto Pasta with Chia Mushroom Meatballs {Vegan}

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Zucchini Pesto Pasta with Chia Mushroom Meatballs {Vegan}
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Ingredients for the ‘Meatballs’ 

1/2 cup of lentils (I used black)

1 pack of mushrooms (about 12 baby belle or button mushrooms)

1 cup of pecans

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

2 garlic cloves

1 small handful thyme

2 small handfuls parsley (flat leaf and/or curly)

juice from half a lemon

a few dashes soy sauce or tamari for sautéing mushrooms

1 dash liquid smoke for sautéing mushrooms (optional)

pepper flakes, salt and pepper (generously to taste)


Ingredients for the Pesto 

2 cups fresh basil

1/2 cup pine nuts

2 garlic cloves

juice from half a lemon

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (vegan) or a few tablespoons grated parmesan (vegetarian)

salt and pepper generously to taste


3 to 4 zucchini for the noodles

some cherry tomatoes




Soak two tablespoons of chia seeds in six tablespoons of water. Cook the lentils per direction. While those are cooking, start by cleaning the mushrooms (I don’t rinse them, I just brush them clean to prevent them from getting soggy). Chop them up and sauté them with a few dashes of your favorite soy sauce. Add one dash of liquid smoke or vegan worcestershire sauce (optional). Sauté until brown, fragrant and cooked through. Let cool briefly then add all contents for balls in food processor and pulse to combine well but still has texture. If you need a little liquid to combine, add a few drops of water. Preheat oven to 350. Form ingredients into balls with hands and place on parchment paper covered baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes until brown and fragrant.

For pesto, clean basil leaves and place into food processor with remaining ingredients. Pulse to combine, longer for smooth texture, shorter for rougher texture. If you need more liquid add a few drops of water.

For zucchini noodles use a vegetable noodle maker like this or a julienne peeler like this. Or just peel them using your regular vegetable peeler.

For assembly, watch this little Instagram video I made here.


Photography by Paige Alisa 


2 Responses to “Zucchini Pesto ‘Pasta’ with Chia Mushroom ‘Meatballs’ {Vegan}”

  1. Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies

    I have a mushroom meatball recipe like this too–it’s one of my favorites!

  2. MrsGarlicHead

    I am still looking for a great vegan meatballs recipe, often they end up falling apart, not really what I am looking for. The chia seeds here sound like they should work, I’ll have to give this a try sometime.


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