Summer Squash Noodles with Carrot Top Pesto
I’ve always wanted to join a CSA.
God knows I love fresh produce, and the thought of being treated to a giant box of seasonal fruits and vegetables every week while supporting local farmers gives me excitement goosebumps and a serious case of warm fuzzies. I also like the idea of being able to casually drop my CSA membership into Instagram captions and food-related conversations. Like, “I just can’t get over the gorgeous summer squash in my CSA box this week! I’m so impressed with Jack’s crop. Oh sorry, I forgot you don’t know Jack!! He’s my farmer.” It would give me the type of hippie street cred I haven’t had since the summer I spent selling cowboy hats and ruthlessly critiquing the Boulder burrito scene.
For some reason, I feel a strong urge to order vegan leather boots and a kombucha SCOBY right now.
However, despite toying with the idea for years, I’ve never managed to bite the CSA bullet. After all, a CSA subscription is a big responsibility—most memberships are at least 3 months—and I have well-documented commitment issues. I worry that I wouldn’t be able to give my produce the love and attention deserves, and it would end up wasting away and making a smelly mess in my apartment. Especially during the summer months. There’s just no way I could take care of pounds and pounds of vegetables while on the wedding circuit! It’s too much pressure!!
Funnily enough, this is the same argument I make every time my roommate suggests we get a dog…
I’d all but given up on my farm share dreams, but then I happily stumbled upon the answer to every commitment-phobe’s prayers—Peapod’s Local Farm Box. The geniuses at Peapod have found a way to deliver all the benefits of a CSA without the scary long-term signup! The box features the best seasonal produce from regional farms, and not only can it be ordered individually, the contents are also listed beforehand on Peapod’s website. So, if you’re going out of town or simply don’t like the items in the weekly box, no worries! HALLELUJAH. And for those interested in having the aforementioned “farmer Jack” convo with friends, your Farm Box includes information on the farmers who grew your food, many of whom you may recognize from your local farmer’s market. Hippie street cred for everyone!
I got my first Farm Box delivered a few weeks ago, and it was loaded with the most vibrant purple onions, giant carrots with deep green tops, beets, red chard, and a boatload of yellow squash. You better believe I made all manner of festive creations with my rainbow bounty (Chard wraps! Asian beet slaw! Carrot Salad! Succotash!), but these Summer Squash Noodles with Carrot Top Pesto were a personal favorite.
As you may have noticed, I’m really into my spiralizer right now (to be perfectly honest, my life mostly revolves around spiralizing, Bloodline, and rosé these days), and I can’t get enough of raw squash noodle salads. They’re a lighter, more refreshing spin on traditional pasta salad, and I love that you can dress them up in a million creative ways. In this case, I tossed my noodles with a bright, peppery pesto made with the bush of leftover carrot tops in my Farm Box, shaved Parmesan, fresh basil, and just enough chopped walnuts to give each bite a little extra crunch. It’s the perfect no-cook light lunch or side, and even Logan couldn’t stop raving about the insane amount of flavor and texture in this sexy summer salad. (Given the nutrient-packed nature of the recipe, I consider this a MAJOR Dude Diet win.)
If you don’t have a spiralizer (have I still not sold you on its wonders??!), don’t panic. You can use a julienne peeler to make squash “noodles,” or shave your squash into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. And feel free to sub arugula, baby kale, or beet tops for carrot tops in the pesto if you like—they’re equally delicious.
- 1½ pounds yellow squash About 5 medium squash
- Kosher salt
- For the pesto:
- 2 cups roughly chopped carrot tops
- ½ packed cup fresh basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup walnuts
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Kosher salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For serving: (optional)
- ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- Fresh basil leaves
Start by prepping your squash “noodles.” I recommend using the medium blade on a spiralizer, but you can also use a julienne peeler, or shave the squash into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Place the noodles in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with a good pinch of kosher salt. Toss gently, then let the noodles rest for 20 minutes. (This will help draw out excess moisture and soften the noodles.)
Meanwhile, make the pesto. Add the carrot tops and fresh basil leaves to the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until finely chopped. Add the garlic, walnuts, cheese, lemon juice, and good pinch of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Process until a coarse paste forms, scraping down the sides of the bowl a few times if necessary. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Transfer the pesto to a bowl and season with a little extra salt and pepper if necessary. (The pesto will be quite thick. That’s a good thing!)
Pat your noodles dry with paper towels and transfer them to a mixing bowl. Add about two-thirds of the pesto and toss to coat the noodles. (I recommend using kitchen tongs for this if you have them.) Feel free to add more pesto if you like, or save the remainder for another use.
Transfer the noodles to a serving dish or individual plates/bowls. Garnish with the shaved Parmesan, walnuts and fresh basil (if using), and serve.
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