Pasta with zucchini pesto, Prosciutto di San Daniele & Grana Padano

Pasta with zucchini pesto, Prosciutto di San Daniele & Grana Padano

By 08/08/2017

My grandmother, back in the 70s was a "health guru"; she would drink lemon juice in the morning, have lots of brown rice and lentils, make her own pasta, bread and pizza in her stone oven.

It was interesting to see how she would experiment with different herbs in the kitchen, she used to love foraging, growing her own corn and wheat, mill it in the attic and use it to make her own polenta and bakings.

She was a strong and tough woman who lived in the middle of the Friulan countryside and this way of living and feeding herself was simply second nature to her.  Her cooking was typical of the "cucina povera" with very few good quality ingredients and always healthy.

All through my childhood I had plenty to be inspired by and now here I am talking and writing about food every single day.. it is simply running through my genes.

There are several vegetables which can make a fabulous healthy pasta sauce: cavolo nero, arugola and sundried tomatoes just to mention a few.

A must-try one is certainly zucchini pesto which is the recipe I am sharing today. I have added almonds, a few basil leaves and Grana Padano cheese which gives this pesto a satisfying and delicate taste. I have dressed my pasta with the pesto and then I have finished it off with crunchy Prosciutto di San Daniele strips on top which will simply make you scream for more.

Since 1996 Grana Padano and Prosciutto di San Daniele have been recognised by the European Union as Protected Designation of Origin and they carry the PDO logo which guarantees high quality, authenticity and traceability. Prosciutto di San Daniele carries a series of codes and marks on its rind to allow complete traceability, including its origin and it is completely natural: only sea salt is used to preserve it.

Prosciutto di San Daniele Italian ham

Grana Padano was invented by the Benedictine monks as a clever way of preserving surplus milk. Its reputation was established over time and it soon became a highly esteemed prize ingredient at Renaissance banquets held by princes and dukes.

The traditional methods of producing Grana Padano Cheese are still the same today as they were hundreds of years ago to make sure that the product continues to display today the characteristics of flavour, aroma and texture, as well as appearance.

My pediatrician has recommended Grana Padano for my children as it has double the calcium content than ordinary cheese, so if you are low in calcium or you don't like drinking milk this will be a good source of it for you.

Grana Padano Italian cheese

But let's have a look at the recipe now. This pesto serves 4 people.

  • Prep Time : 20 minutes
  • Cook Time : 10 minutes
  • Yield : 4



Wash the zucchini, trim both ends, chop them into pieces and put them in a processor. Add the garlic clove, Grana Padano, almonds, a pinch of salt and 6 basil leaves.

Zucchini Pesto with almonds

Whiz adding the olive oil a little at a time. Reduce the mixture into a puree consistency.

Zucchini pesto with almonds and Grana Padano cheese

Cut the Prosciutto di San Daniele into strips. Add a dash of olive oil in a pan and cook it for 4 to 5 minutes until crispy.

Cooking san daniele Italian ham

Cook the pasta in salty boiling water according to packet instructions and when you drain it retain just a little bit of the cooking water. This will help in making the pasta moist and easier to mix it up with the pesto.

Stir the pasta with the pesto, plate it up, add a few crunchy Prosciutto di San Daniele strips on top, some Grana Padano shavings and garnish with fresh basil leaves.


This pesto can be stored in the fridge for up to a week covered with olive oil and cling film.

Pasta with zucchini pesto, crunchy san daniele ham and grana padano cheese

Pasta with zucchini pesto, crunchy san daniele ham and grana padano cheese

Zucchini pesto pasta with Prosciutto di san Daniele and Grana Padano cheese



Check out the Prosciutto di San Daniele and Grana Padano websites to learn more about these great Italian products.

This post is in collaboration with the Consortiums of Grana Padano and Prosciutto di San Daniele

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

9 Responses to Pasta with zucchini pesto, Prosciutto di San Daniele & Grana Padano

  1. Mimi

    I have never made pesto with zucchini! I’m so excited to try it! Lovely pasta dish.

    • Alida

      Many thanks Mimi, yes do try this it is ever so easy and refreshing.

  2. Angie@Angie's Recipes

    I want to dig into that bowl of freshly made pesto…the pasta must be super yum, Alida.

    • Alida

      Pesto is a light pasta sauce and so versatile.

  3. gloria

    I love all in this recette : zucchini, basil, the almonds !! all
    baci !

  4. Chiara

    complimenti a tua madre,dalle nostre parti si vive bene ed in modo sano, vero? Proverò anche io a bere il limone la mattina , ne ho sentito parlare spesso, dicono che fa bene !Ottima ricetta, con questi ingredienti di qualità sarà certamente deliziosa, un bacione !

    • Alida

      Si hai proprio ragione, ci teniamo molto alla salute e ci piace mangiare bene.

  5. elisabetta

    Love, love this recipe with the crispy San Daniele strips on top. Will make but with Parma instead as we don’t get San Daniele here.

    • Alida

      Yes the San Daniele on top really enhances the taste!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *