Cilantro Lime Pesto Pasta

This Cilantro Lime Pesto Pasta is the perfect end-of-summer dish. You get the comfort of a creamy pasta but with the bright summer flavors of cilantro, lime, roasted tomatoes, and zucchini.

Cilantro Lime Pesto Pasta - Empowering Nourishment

Hello out there! I feel like every time I pop in here I apologize for the delay between posts and tell you things have been crazy around here…. so I’m trying not to do that again. But seriously, this year has been one of the most challenging I’ve faced, and just when I think I’ve turned the corner, something else happens. Because of this, even though I’ve been cooking and sitting on recipes for a while, every time I sit down to write a post nothing comes. But, right now I’ve been hunkered down for hurricane Harvey all weekend and it feels like the right time to just dive in.

First things first in big happenings of the summer, my Dad was fortunate to receive a liver transplant just a few short weeks ago! He’s been sick for a few years now, but his health started to rapidly decline in January. Thankfully he was placed on the transplant list and able to actually receive a liver, but it has been quite a roller coaster. It is hard to explain the multitude of feelings involved with waiting for and actually receiving an organ transplant, but it is like nothing I’ve ever experienced or would wish on anyone to experience! I am hoping to eventually elaborate on this as well as our (sometimes great, sometimes infuriating) experiences with all of the doctors and hospitals involved, but I’m not quite there yet.

The other part of my summer has involved traveling everywhere. I’ve been all around Texas, from South Padre to Galveston, and over to Denver. I typically don’t stay put for more than a few days at a time as I am also traveling to San Antonio weekly for work and to help with my Dad’s recovery. This year has challenged my love for routine and order, and especially my inner control-freak as I’ve been shown again and again that I am not in control of the big stuff, but that that is ok.

Cilantro Lime Pesto Pasta - Empowering Nourishment

So anyways, this pasta! The cilantro lime pesto is a different take on your usual basil pesto with the addition of pumpkin seeds and queso fresco, which results in an outrageously creamy texture. However, if you can’t do dairy you can leave it out and still get tons of flavor. Your extra pesto can be used as a dip, or as a marinade. I personally tossed some chicken thighs in my extra cilantro lime pesto then baked them – and I highly recommend it!

As for the pasta, I’ve gone ahead and used zucchini noodles here since they are in-season right now, along with some roasted tomatoes and sauteed peppers – but feel free to change it up according to your liking! This would also be great with some flank steak or shrimp instead of chicken.

Cilantro Lime Pesto Pasta - Empowering Nourishment

Cilantro Lime Pesto Pasta

This zucchini pasta features a creamy cilantro, lime, and cotija pesto for a Mexican spin on traditional pesto that is perfect for summer!

Course dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people


For the Pesto

  • 2 bunches cilantro
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1/3 cup queso fresco or cotija cheese
  • 2/3 cup avocado oil (may also use olive oil)

For the Pasta

  • 4 medium zucchinis, spiralized into noodles
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1.5 tablespoons avocado oil, divided


For the Pesto

  1. Tear off cilantro leaves (having some stems in the pesto is ok), and add to a food processor along with jalapeno, green onions, pumpkin seeds, and queso fresco. Pulse the mixture until it is well chopped. 

  2. Turn the food processor on and slowly stream in the oil until desired consistency is reached. 

For the Pasta

  1. Preheat the oven to broil. 

  2. Spiralize the zucchini noodles, then toss with salt and lay on a paper towel-lined baking sheet to help them drain their water. 

  3. Heat 1 Tablespoon avocado oil in pan over medium-high heat. Pat chicken breasts dry and season with salt and pepper. Place in pan and cook for 7-10 minutes per side, until fully done and juices run clear. 

  4. Dice the bell pepper and place on a baking sheet with the tomatoes. Toss with remaining avocado oil and broil for 5 minutes. 

  5. When chicken is done cooking, place the zucchini noodles in the pan and cook for 3-5 minutes over medium heat. 

  6. To assemble pasta: combine zucchini noodles with pesto then top with bell peppers, tomatoes, and sliced chicken breast. 

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