What’s Cooking at the Farmers Market: Zucchini Avocado Walnut Pesto Pasta

Special thanks goes out Jennifer Buchanan, MS, RD, healthy eating specialist at Whole Foods Market – Roosevelt Square for joining us at the farmers market last Friday and sharing her Zucchini Avocado Walnut Pesto Pasta. This recipe calls for heirloom tomatoes, and you may be asking yourself: what are those?

heirloom tomatoesAn heirloom is something that has been passed down for generations and this is the same case for heirloom fruits and vegetables. To be certified as an heirloom, these tomato varieties are grown from seeds that have produced the same crop for at least 50 years and must be certified organic. These plants have to be grown outside and naturally pollinated and cannot be hybridized (the process of cross pollinating plants to create a variety that is more resistant to pests and has a longer shelf life). Because heirloom tomatoes are not hybridized, they tend to spoil quicker. But, the distinctive flavor and juiciness of the heirloom varieties mean they don’t sit around the kitchen for too long, anyways.

There are more than 100 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and the creative names provide some insight into the plants origin. Next time you are at a farmers market (or grocery store), see if you can spot a Cherokee Purple, Missouri Pink Love Apple or Nebraska Wedding.

Zucchini Avocado Walnut Pesto Pasta

Recipe by Jennifer Buchanan, MS, RD


2 medium 10” zucchini, shredded
2 to 3 small heirloom tomatoes, chopped
1 yellow pepper, diced
½ cup watercress
¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, rehydrated
½ cup walnuts, blanched
1 garlic cloves
1 cup fresh basil
1 avocado
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ t teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of salt (optional)
Lemon zest (optional)


  1. Using a mandolin, or the large holes on a standup boxed cheese grater, lay zucchini on its side and grate lengthwise so you have long strands of noodles.
  2. Place zucchini noodles in a strainer and let drain for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix tomatoes, pepper and watercress.
  4. Place walnuts and garlic in a food processor and pulse a few times.
  5. Add fresh basil, avocado, lemon, dried basil, oregano and salt (optional) to food processor and pulse until all ingredients are blended.
  6. Add pesto to medium bowl with vegetables until well mixed. Top with lemon zest.

Nutrition information:
Calories: 184 Total Fat: 12 grams Protein: 6 grams Carbohydrate: 19 grams Fiber: 7.5 grams Sodium: 136 mg Cholesterol: 0 mg Saturated Fat: 1.4 grams Monounsaturated Fat: 6 grams Polyunsaturated Fat: 3.6 grams

Happy Washington Farmers Market Week!
In addition to the usual fun atmosphere, tasty lunch options and lots of healthy, locally grown foods available, there are a few extras happening at this Friday’s Virginia Mason Farmers Market:

  • Seattle residents can sign up to receive a free conservation kit from Seattle City Light, including energy-efficient light bulbs and an efficient shower head to help conserve water.
  • The Moonshine Hill band will provide some fun bluegrass music starting at 11 a.m.
  • Sheryl Wiser from Cascade Harvest Coalition will provide information on “preserving the harvest” – tips to do more home canning and make the most of your next visit to a U-pick farm.


  1. I am loving the samples at Farmers Market this summer. What a great idea. Keep them coming. Even better when you make them at home. Thanks.

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