{Recipe} Macadamia and Basil Pesto with Marinara Sauce and Zucchini Ribbons

The days are starting to heat up in my part of the world. It is time to farewell the comforting soups and stews of winter and early spring, and commence RAW FOOD indulgence!

This pesto is a concoction that I developed after discovering that my family’s preferred nut and herb combination (for pesto) was macadamia and basil. I added english spinach on an occasion that I was a little short of basil, and it became a regular addition to the recipe.

The marinara sauce is adapted from Alissa Cohen’s Living on Live Food. We discovered zucchini ribbons (or ‘noodles’) when we first became interested in raw food 5 years ago.

Macadamia and Basil Pesto

Macadamia nuts

Quantity -2 cups

You will need:

4 cups basil leaves, tightly packed

1 1/2 cups English (baby) spinach leaves, tightly packed

2 1/2 cups raw macadamia nuts

2-5 garlic cloves

1/2 tsp salt

1/3 cup plus 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

English spinach and basil leaves


Wash basil leaves and baby spinach leaves, pat dry or use a salad spinner.

Place leaves in food processor with macadamia nuts and garlic. Process for 30 sec. Turn off, then remove lid. Use a spatula to scrape mixture down the sides of the jug. Replace lid, process again and add 1/3 cup of oil and salt while blades are spinning. Stop the machine occasionally to scrape ingredients down side of jug with a spatula.

Once ingredients are well incorporated, do a taste test. Add remaining 1/2 tbsp oil or additional salt if it is required. Process again to combine.


We use the full amount of oil. We only use 2 cloves of garlic, as my children comment that the pesto is ‘spicy’ if we add any more. By all means, add more if that won’t be a problem in your house. I’d certainly add more garlic if it wasn’t for fact that my kids find the strong, spicy flavour of raw garlic overwhelming (when someone calls out ‘water, water’ I know I’ve gone overboard with the garlic!).

Set pesto aside.

Marinara sauce

Quantity – 1 3/4 cups

2 cups fresh tomato, chopped

15 sundried tomatoes soaked for 2 hours

5 dates, pitted and soaked for 2 hours

2 garlic cloves, peeled

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp salt

pinch of cayenne pepper


Add all ingredients to a food processor. Process on medium until ingredients are blended well, and desired texture is achieved. I like it to be a little chunky.

Marinara sauce

Zucchini ribbons:

You will need:

1/2 – 1 medium zucchini (courgette) PER person


Wash and dry zucchini. Use vegetable peeler (or spiraliser) to create ribbons. If using vegie peeler, peel zucchini along the entire length.  Discard skin if  preferred. I use it. Use as much of the zucchini as possible. Set ribbons aside.

Zucchini ribbons

Additional ingredients, PER person:

2 small button mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup diced red capsicum (bell pepper)

1 tbsp sliced olives

A sprinkling of savoury yeast (nutritional yeast)

4 slices of avocado

A few sprigs of fresh parsley

To assemble:

For each person:

Place ribbons in a bowl. Add desired amount of pesto. Mix with a spoon to coat the ribbons, or you can use your hands to work the pesto through the ribbons.

Add desired amount of marinara sauce, mix well.

Add vegetables, stir.

Sprinkle with savoury yeast flakes (nutritional yeast) and place avocado slices on top. Top with parsley.


with nutritional yeast.


without nutritional yeast.


Variation: My kids aren’t keen on raw zucchini (or cooked, or any form really. But they do like zucchini cake – especially when I call it Maple Syrup and Walnut Cake 😉 ).

So, we serve their meal with wholemeal wheat spaghetti instead of ribbons.


Leftover pesto can be stored in a glass jar in the fridge, for about a week. My daughter and I enjoy pesto on whole wheat toast for breakfast.

Leftover marinara sauce can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days.

What is your favourite pesto combination?

Each Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe – one that is enjoyed by my own family. I hope your family enjoys it too.



About Ally
Mamma. Vegan. I blog at Made of Stars.

13 Responses to {Recipe} Macadamia and Basil Pesto with Marinara Sauce and Zucchini Ribbons

  1. andra muhoberac says:

    I was wondering if you have any picky eaters in your family. When our kids were little, we had two very, very picky eaters. One grew out of it but my younger stepson is still a worry when it comes to food and he is in his forties. A lot of my friends have trouble getting their kids or grandkids to eat vegetables, but, then again, they aren’t vegan and maybe that makes a difference.


    • Ally says:

      Hi Andra- yes, my 6 yr old son is our Least Adventurous Eater. Quite a contrast to my daughter. But, it’s not all bad- he loves fruit and broccoli! I wrote about him earlier this month, when we had success with him eating tomato-based pasta sauce (see my Jem’s Broccoli and Capsicum Pasta Sauce post if you are interested). My husband said that he was a very picky eater as a child. He isn’t now, so there is hope for my son!

  2. susykat says:

    All I can say is :YUM!!!! 🙂

  3. liveblissful says:

    Love this recipe, i have never thought to do marinara sauce raw, but I must try it 🙂

  4. Yum! This is all I have been thinking about and have been looking for new and different sauce recipes. I will definitely have to try the macadamia nut and basil pesto. I always use a spiraliser, but I love the look of ribbons 🙂

    • Ally says:

      I have always wanted a spiraliser but never managed to get one. I imagine it’s a lot quicker. The trusty old vegie peeler has served me reasonably well!
      Do you eat a lot of raw food?

  5. Yip, it is pretty quick, but I am sure the ribbons are yummy & worth the time. I used to eat a lot of raw food, and am focusing on creating raw dishes again. Have just received 2 huge boxes of ingredients today so will hopefully be posting some recipes soon 🙂 Do you eat a lot of raw food?

    • Ally says:

      I look forward to your raw recipes! We go through stages with raw food. We began dabbling in raw food about 5 years ago. Before conceiving our 3rd child, I was 90% raw for a few months. I felt amazing!
      Now we just incorporate some ‘key’ raw foods in to our lives, like green smoothies, the raw pasta, flaxseed crackers, raw desserts. We eat more raw food in summer.
      In Winter, we revert to soups and casseroles and other warm foods. Lately, I have been feeling that I would like to increase my intake of raw food. Probably not to 90%, but close to. It is summer, so the perfect time for me.
      Tell me some of the goodies you received today?

      • Same! It definitely makes you feel amazing. I was really into raw foods when I first went gluten-free and vegan. I thought that is all that I would ever eat, but then I had a hard time finding products. Of course, I still always eat raw foods, but am looking forward to a summer incorporated with a lot more :). Sounds like what you guys do is awesome. I think I may have purchased far too many things to list here! The most exciting thing for me is Irish Moss because I have never been able to find it. Can hopefully finally make a raw lemon meringue vegan pie.

  6. Pingback: A Scorcher = A Simple Meal « Made of Stars

  7. Pingback: {recipe} Cucumber and Nut Cheese Bites | Lime Cheesecake (vegan). « Made of Stars

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