Pesto Squash Noodles and Spaghetti with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

Vegetarian pesto, squash noodles and spaghetti with burst cherry tomatoes -

Not long ago, while Cookie and I were out walking, I watched an older lady cross paths with another woman and her dog. I realized that the women were strangers. Dogs have a way of bringing people together, you know? As we walked up, my gray-haired neighbor was asking permission to pet the big, slobbery mastiff. Then came the usual, “What kind of dog is that?” question.

Three single women, two dogs, one neighborhood intersection on a warm summer evening. We all started swapping laughs and sighs about our pups’ peculiarities as Cookie wiggle-waggled over to the older lady. She fawned over Cookie and admitted that she recently lost her 15-year-old collie. We expressed our condolences. The other woman mentioned her current mastiff’s beloved predecessor and suggested, “Why don’t you get another?” The older lady confessed that it was too much, too hard to lose an ever-present companion, that it’s just the worst. My heart broke for her. I get it. Maybe you get it, too. It is terrifying to love another being so much.

arugula-pecan pesto

Cookie hopped the fence on Wednesday afternoon. I let her come outside with me while I was talking to my friend on the phone. I watched in horror as she made one impressive, graceful, vertical leap over the chain-link fence to pursue a bunny.

Ten, fifteen, I don’t know how many minutes passed while I was frantically shrieking her name out the car windows and flagging down neighbors. Finally, my phone rang. Cookie was safe at the bank, of all places. Whether for safety or cash for the road, Cookie had run inside the bank. Her new friends were feeding her treats in the conference room when I got there.

pesto and dog

I worry about this little rascal’s safety all day, every day. We can’t have another accident. I think we need to move back to an apartment with double doors, either now or when my lease is up. Ironically, I lied about having a back yard when I adopted Cookie. I’m not proud of it. I wanted Cookie and I knew I could take good care of her. Anyway, they were wrong about the backyard requirement. She’s definitely better off in a safe, secure space and long, daily walks. I’m sad to say that she’ll be exploring the backyard on a retractible leash from now on.

squash and spaghetti noodles

I don’t have a good transition here, from dogs to pasta, other than an apology for being a downer today. I threw together this dish for lunch last week with leftover pesto from my pizza. It’s very similar to last summer’s cilantro-pepita pesto pasta concept, but I topped it with delicious burst cherry tomatoes. I can’t claim that it’s a totally original recipe—Beth and Sarah have beautiful, similar zucchini noodle recipes—but are any recipes truly original at this point? Tomatoes and pesto were made for each other!

I’m a pesto-loving arugula fiend, but if you take away anything from my pesto recipes, I hope it’s that it’s impossible to go wrong with pesto. Kale-hemp seed pesto, cilantro-cashew pesto, traditional basil… almost any blend of herbs or greens and nuts or seeds is guaranteed to delight. Top it off with quick-cooked cherry tomatoes for a filling summer dinner.

cherry tomatoes and squash spaghetti

Before you go, here are a few links I wanted to share:

Dietitian Debbie created an awesome weekly dinner meal plan and grocery list, featuring entirely C+K recipes! How cool is that? Check it out and download her free PDF here.

Completely unrelated, I got a lot out of this video on overcoming setbacks/failure/rejection and thought you might, too. That Marie Forleo!

And don’t forget, you can still order my strawberry, spinach and quinoa salad from Plated! They’re delivering the ingredients to your doors next week! Click here to learn more and don’t forget to use code COOKIEANDKATE for 10 percent off!

pesto tossed with spaghetti and zucchini ribbons - cookieandkate.comburst cherry tomatoesDelicious summertime pasta dish with pesto, squash noodles and spaghetti with burst cherry tomatoes -

Pesto Squash Noodles and Spaghetti with Burst Cherry Tomatoes
4.9 from 14 reviews
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 to 4
Homemade pesto tossed with raw squash noodles and spaghetti, topped with burst cherry tomatoes. This vegetarian recipe is easily made vegan and/or gluten free (see recipe notes). Feel free to substitute 6 to 8 ounces of quality store-bought pesto for a quicker meal. Recipe yields two large servings or four side servings, which would be great served with big green salads!
  • 2 cups packed fresh arugula and/or basil, tough stems removed
  • ½ cup sliced shelled pecans
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Squash noodles and spaghetti
  • 1 medium zucchini, julienne
  • 1 medium yellow squash, julienne
  • ⅓ pound (a little over 5 ounces) whole grain spaghetti or linguine
Burst tomatoes
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes or ¾ pound small tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Dash red pepper flakes
  • Dash salt
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cut off the tough ends of the squash and remove any discolored skin with a paring knife. Use a julienne peeler (or regular peeler) to slice the squash lengthwise, one side at a time. Stop once you get to the seeded part, then turn the squash to work on the next side.
  2. Toast the pecans: In a large skillet over medium heat, toast the pecans, while stirring frequently, until they're nice and fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the pecans to a bowl to cool.
  3. To make the pesto: In a food processor, combine the arugula/basil, cooled pecans, Parmesan, garlic and salt. Pulse while drizzling in the olive oil. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Once the water is boiling, cook the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Before draining, reserve ½ cup pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and return to pot.
  5. Cook the tomatoes: First, slice about 5 of the tomatoes into thin rounds and reserve them for later. In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil and red pepper flakes. Once the oil is shimmering, add the whole cherry tomatoes and a dash of salt. Let the tomatoes cook, stirring occasionally, until they are blistered in spots and starting to pop, about 3 minutes. Continue to cook, lightly crushing the tomatoes with the back of a big spoon or silicone spatula, until they are beginning to break down, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the sliced tomatoes.
  6. To assemble the pasta: Combine the pasta and squash noodles in a serving bowl. Add most of the pesto and a couple tablespoons pasta water. Toss to combine, adding more pesto or pasta water until the noodles are sufficiently coated in pesto. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, if desired. Divide the noodles into individual bowls and top with cherry tomatoes. I finished mine with another twist of freshly ground black pepper.
Recipe adapted from my arugula-almond pesto, cilantro-pepita pesto with squash ribbons and Bon Appetit's linguine with burst tomatoes and chili peppers.
Make it vegan/dairy free: Omit the Parmesan altogether or add nutritional yeast, to taste, in its place.
Make it gluten free: Use your favorite gluten-free noodles or just make extra squash noodles.
Make it nut free: Substitute pepitas for the pecans or omit the nuts altogether for an herby olive oil sauce.
Storage suggestions: Pesto is best consumed immediately after making. It oxidizes with air exposure, so store it separately from other components, with plastic wrap pressed against the top.
Change it up: Use any pesto you like, whether homemade or store-bought. During cooler months, non-starchy roasted vegetables would be a great substitute for the tomatoes.
Recommended equipment: I love my Kuhn Rikon julienne peeler and Cuisinart food processor.

P.s. The site seems to be struggling to stay live today, but I’m working on it. Please be patient!


  1. says

    Oh no, Cookie! Those moments must have been horrible for you, Kate! Thanks God she was safe after all. [In a bank?? Clever girl.]
    On another note, this pasta dish looks fabulous. Pesto galore!

    Hope you have a more relaxing weekend,

  2. Amy says

    Oh god, I worry about my dog all day, every day too, and often wish I could put her in some kind of protective bubble. I’m glad Cookie’s ok! What a little monkey. That pasta looks delicious, btw. I haven’t been able to get on board with all zucchini noodles, but it’s a good idea to mix some into regular pasta!

  3. Rachel R. says

    That is so scary – I’m so glad Cookie is okay! My husband and I have three dogs, and one, a 45 pound shepherd mix, jumps our six-foot privacy fence on the regular. Yes, a SIX FOOT fence. It’s always in pursuit of a squirrel, and she always comes right back, but it still is scary those few minutes she is gone.

  4. says

    Sigh, sorry about Cookie’s escape! Right in front of your eyes even. Glad she is safe. I can’t imagine how it will feel to lose our dog one day, whether it’s temporary, or due to old age.. We just love her too much!

    The noodles look great, as always :) pesto always makes the day better.

  5. says

    This is definitely my kind of meal! What a great addition with the zucchini. OMG, I have been there. Bob ran into a grocery store (we actually knew the owners so they weren’t mad), but it was terrifying when I couldn’t find him. He’s my baby, for real, just like Cookie I am sure! :) Glad the little one was safe and sound…in a bank. Haha, that’s so bizarre!

    • says

      One time Cookie jumped out of my car and ran inside Wal-Mart! I chased her through the store and we had a mini showdown by the self check-out before she let me scoop her up.

  6. says

    So sorry you had to go through this (again), but so glad that Cookie is home safely. There is truly nothing worse – my Gigi slipped out of her harness recently and ran across a busy road to chase after another dog. I was shaking for hours after I caught her. So glad that Cookie is ok – thanks for sharing your stories (and amazing recipes – this looks delicious!)

    • says

      Oh man, that’s so scary. I know the feeling. Cookie ran into the bank that faces the same street where she got into an accident earlier this year. I can’t stand thinking about it.

  7. says

    I understand the woman’s pain. Our family beagle passed away this week. It’s hard to get so attached to dogs, knowing they have a limited time here with us.

  8. Catherine says

    I’m sure you have already considered this, but I HIGHLY recommend investing in an electric fence. My parents have two rescues, who are the least trained / domesticated dogs in the world, and they are completely safe in their yard on a busy road with the electric fence. The dogs are never allowed to walk off property, they’re put in a car and driven across the street to start their walks. It’s cumbersome, but they never test the boundary. Good luck!

    • says

      I’m definitely considering it, Catherine. She wears a collar that keeps her away from the front door, but I would like some extra security around the perimeter of the yard, for sure. I’ve always wondered how owners take their dogs on walks when the fence is installed—now I finally get it!

  9. Hillary says

    My sister’s dogs are exactly the same. She has a fenced backyard, but the perpetual puppy (not even a foot high) somehow managed to constantly hop the fence and gallivant about the neighborhood. It’s important for pups to have the ability to run and jump freely, but not at the risk of losing them or causing injury. Luckily adding another foot of fence well and truly prevented her escapades.

    In regard to the recipe: I L-O-V-E burst cherry tomatoes. I’ve convinced I could eat them for dessert. Whether in a pan or in the oven, the sweetness is undeniable and acceptable for every dish, in my opinion.

    • says

      I really wish I could secure my yard better. In the meantime, she’s wearing her harness and getting hooked up to the line in the backyard. I almost forgot earlier today—she saw bunnies when I opened the door and almost bolted. Fortunately, I’ve been making her sit and stay before I let her outside, so I had enough time to shut the door. Sheesh. Those bunnies. I’m glad you’re on the burst cherry tomato bandwagon. I just can’t stop!

  10. Margie O'Hara says

    It is very frighting when a pet escapes. As a pet owner I always felt it was my job to protect this animal like a child. Love your recipe! Going to go to the garden, gather my ingredients and make it this evening.

  11. says

    Kate, I recently discovered your blog and absolutely love it! I’m so excited to try this pesto with tomatoes – the colors look so beautiful together. And I’m sorry your cute Cookie gave you a scare, but I’m glad she’s ok!

  12. says

    Ugh, losing track of a dog is the worst! Mine has slipped her harness a few times and gone “exploring”…luckily, she’s terrified of the highway near our house and usually runs for the river, where I find her contentedly sniffing away along the bank. It NEVER stops being terrifying, though.

    I love the idea of combining “real” pasta and zucchini noodles! I always want to replace all the pasta with zoodles in a dish, but that generally leaves me totally unsatisfied. This seems like a good compromise :)

  13. says


    Ohh that feeling when the dog decides to go explore alone ;)
    My dog Trixi will always find a little hole in every garden fence – followed by me running through the neighborhood, ringing doors and asking: “My dog might be in your garden… Could I have a look?”

    Once she ran away from a friend of my mother who was walking with her by the river in the dark and simply went home to me (there are several big streets along the way… Thinking back makes me shudder).

    This recipe sounds like one of those perfect weekday meals.
    I’ll try it next week :)

  14. says

    YUM! Those tomatoes just POP right out, what a delicious looking meal (and tasting I’m sure).

    Adorable puppy, by the way! Thanks for sharing! I’ll have to make this asap! :)

  15. Lynda says

    I have loved your website for a long time and have enjoyed many of your recipes. My dog is a runner too and I have had many near heart failures over the past 13 years. I am always grateful to the kindness of strangers for catching him and calling me as he has no concept of the danger he is in, especially now that we live in the City near very busy streets. I completely understand your fear.

    • says

      Why do our dogs scare us so, Lynda? Cookie is just the same way. I was so glad she ran inside the bank instead of crossing the busy street. I’d do anything to make sure she never escapes again.

  16. says

    This veggie-laden pasta looks amazing and I’m so glad Cookie was okay! LOVE Marie Forleo. That was a really helpful Q & A for me as well. :)

  17. says

    What a fabulous recipe – lovely flavors and I’ve plenty of tomatoes in the garden. I can relate to Cookie!! I have a little Jack Russell who LOVES to run!

  18. Anne says

    It sounds like Cookie has a homing instinct for nice people, at least.

    Made this dish for dinner last night, breaking in my new julienne peeler. Another great dish making use of what’s yummy at the farmer’s market now. The pasta helps give the squash some body–good addition.

  19. says

    My friend Jess’s dog ran away last week too! They found her at some friendly neighbors’, drinking water and hanging out. So glad Cookie was fine. Phew.

  20. says

    I like how you used pecans for your pesto. Pine nuts are great but not as common of an ingredient for most households. I did something similar and made toasted walnut and sun-dried tomato pesto recently. Your dog is so cute by the way!

  21. says

    Oh Cookie! Giving you such a scare! I am terrified of something happening to our pup, too. And when my husband works nights, I NEED my dog as a companion/alarm sounder more than ever. He needs to stick around forever! We don’t have a yard and maybe that is for the best, for now. He ran away once when we were visiting friends and took off through a slit in the fence. Scary. I think Cookie will still enjoy the yard from a long leash, and you’ll have peace of mind! Your pasta looks lovely! A beautiful way to celebrate summer goodies :)

  22. Chris says

    Every time you write about Cookie like that I know exactly what you mean. Sometimes I worry that I’m too attached to my little dog! I can’t imagine life without her and it’s hard knowing they don’t have the same life span as us. I guess the only thing we can do is treasure every moment they are with us.

    • says

      That’s how I try to look at it, too, Chris. I just really want to keep her safe so we can spend as much time together as possible.

  23. says

    I only realised this week that my dog is finally starting to show the signs of his age! He keeps falling asleep when he sits down and actually gets tired when I walk him now! It’s so sad watching our little dogs lifespans rush on ahead of us sometimes. These noodles look delicious at least :)

  24. says

    Ack! HOW SCARY! My mom’s dog would run away in a heartbeat if let out of our (highly fenced) yard…only because she doesn’t know any better and probably wouldn’t realize that she can’t find her way back. Thankfully Cookie is back and safe with you!

    I would probably need all the comfort food after an experience like that. Starting with this big bowl o’ noodles!

    • says

      I wish I could put up some crazy security fence! I’d feel a lot better. I felt like a giant puddle of cortisol after that fiasco.

  25. says

    Omg.. You got me extremely hungry just by reading this post and looking at these lovely pictures… Thank you, now I finally have something healthy and extraordinary delicious to cook for dinner tonight! Yuummm..

    XO Thea

  26. says

    Oh, my. Having one’s dog run if is completely terrifying. My dog has done it a few times, and every time my heart sinks into my chest. Glad to hear Cookie was safe and sound and the bank!
    This pasta looks like the perfect summer meal. It is what I crave most nights. The photo of the burst cherry tomatoes is beautiful! I will put my garden grown tomatoes to good use.

  27. Sue says

    Glad the dog is home safe. While electric fences have their drawbacks, if you decide to go that route, one way to get them through for a walk, if you don’t want to use the car, is to pick them up and carry then over the boundary. As a pet sitter, I’ve found that works without their losing respect for it. Of course, be sure their fence collar is OFF.

    As for the recipe, I actually made it, and it was fabulous. The combo of the roasted and raw tomatoes was far superior to jsut using one or the other. Even my meat-loving husband had 2 helpings. I used a spiralizer instead of julienning the squash. Do wish you’d add the amount of squash, since both types come in a very wide array of sizes. No matter, I just eye-balled it. Definitely will be making this often through the season, since we are growing the cherry tomatoes and basil.

    • says

      Thank you, Sue. I’m investigating local dog fence companies. Glad you enjoyed the pasta, and I’m sorry for not indicating the size of the zucchini in the recipe. I’ll add “medium” zucchini now.

  28. says

    I’m so glad your little lady is safe! Those brief moments of terror you experience when someone you love so much is in danger are awful. This pasta, lady, needs no transitions :)

  29. says

    Oh lovely. This post rings so true!! I met a gentleman in Florence today (I was having coffee in a cafe) after asking if I could pat his 16 year old dog named Zoe. She was just beautiful… rather deaf and blind, but completely loving and trusting (with that gorgeous greying fur around the face. So beautiful). I ended up chatting a little bit with the owner about his relationship with Zoe (in broken English/Italian) and it really brought home the great pain/loss/gain/love/richness/stress that comes with owning a dog. As with any great love, allowing yourself to get attached brings a new sense of vulnerability, as a part of yourself is invested in another. I both hate and love that fact, but at the end of the day, it’s totally worth it.
    So glad that Cookie is back home and safe. My little Jack used to ‘artfully escape’ every now and then, so I can understand the horrible stress! At the end of the day, they don’t understand the stress that they cause us. Just like children, really ;) My first goal after I get home from traveling is to get another dog. No other love is as pure, unconditional and beautiful as what you receive from a dog :) Anyway, I am losing track… this noodle dish is GORGEOUS. So nourishing and colourful. Such a celebration of summer goodness! xx

  30. Stakra says

    Just made this recipe. Classic flavor combination made even better adding the julienned raw zucchini for texture. Good call adding the red pepper flakes. I held back a bit but feel it would have benefited by the full pinch. Nice work!

  31. says

    I know the exact feeling about seeing your dog take off. It’s absolutely horrifying and makes your heart beat faster than you ever thought possible. I’m so happy Cookie is safe back at home! What a cutie. I seriously can’t get enough of that pup.

    And this pasta? My goodness it looks good! I love combining pasta with zucchini noodles for a great texture contrast. Such a fabulously bright, seasonal recipe. The pecans are a great idea instead of pine nuts -must give that a go.

    • says

      It is the worst feeling. Ugh! I’d do anything to make sure it never happens again. I love pecans in pesto, hope you’ll give it a try soon!

  32. Denise says

    It is too hard to say goodbye to that furry companion after 19 years of beng together, I feel lost without my Border Collie mix. Even after a yr I still hurry home if I think it may storm (he hated storms), reach across the bed without thinking to see it he is there. Putting him to sleep was the right decision the bad days out numbered the good. The right decision is what my head says, my heart, I’d give anything for one more day. I found this puppy dumped on a dusty Oklahoma country road. He waved a tiny paw as I drove by, I am that older mutt mom just don’t think I can do it again.

    • says

      Denise, I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t stand to think about losing Cookie. I just hope she lives a long, healthy life with me. Nineteen years would be incredible! P.s. Cookie is from Oklahoma, too. (Tulsa.)

  33. Chelsea says

    Just finished making and eating Pesto Pasta – FANTASTIC – tried to copy it exactly and it was so tasty my husband went back for 3rds -hmmm maybe too good. I might be a bit more adventurous and add a bit more red pepper flakes next time (I was conservative).And we both liked that it wasn’t too garlicky either. Thanks Kate!

  34. denise says

    Thank you for your sympathy. I guess I read somewhere Cookie was a Tulsan and have wandered into Pet-whatever on Saturday morning when they do the find a dog a home thing looking for a Cookie clone. But we both know there is only one Cookie and it will be rare to find one as cute.

    • says

      It’s true, she’s one of a kind. It took some searching to find her. If you decide to bring another canine friend into your life, I’m sure you will find the perfect pup. xo.

  35. Alyssa says

    I never comment on blogs, but I have to tell you – this recipe is awesome. I also made your chickpea-farro salad and it was delicious. I recently moved to NYC from the midwest and having some great home-cooked recipes makes the transition easier. Thanks for a delicious recipe – completely satisfying and equally tasty.

  36. Ana Luz says

    Tonight is the third time I’ve had this for dinner. There’s always leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. This is a great recipe. Using quinoa pasta (I’ve used both linguine and shells) adds, in my opinion, a little more texture to it.

    Cookie is great! I’ve two cats and I totally know about worrying about pets.

    Love the blog. :-)

    • says

      Hi Ana! Thanks for commenting. I’m so glad you’re loving this recipe! You’ve inspired me to pick up some quinoa pasta at the store. I’ve never tried it.

  37. cecilia says

    I have been dying to try this, recipe for so long, your pictures are so beautiful and it was incredible!!! Worth the wait!! It is definitely one of my favorite recipes.
    I have never made pesto with aragula before and it was a nice change. Delicious!!! Thank you Kate!

  38. Lauren says

    Didn’t think twice about whipping this one up for tonight since all I had to buy were the zucchinis and tomatoes. I made it vegan with nutritional yeast and OH MY this is an amazing recipe. So simple! You are quickly becoming my favorite food blogger! Can’t wait to share this creation with my loves. Thanks <3

  39. Grace says

    This recipe is divine! I’m a newlywed looking for easy, but delicious recipes and this was exactly it; my husband loved it! Plus I just planted basil…making a perfect excuse to make this all the time!

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