Christmas Leftovers Recipe: Zucchini Pesto Surprise muffins

The thing with making a lot of antipasto dips and spreads is that then you have to work out what to do with leftover dips and spreads.  And yes, one could always have them on bread, but that stops being fun after a few days.  One of my favourite uses for antipasto dips is as pasta sauces, though they are also good on pizza bases instead of tomato paste.  But today I’m making food to take to the cricket, which means portable food, so it’s time for these dips to find their way into some muffiny goodness.


The flavour of these muffins will depend a bit on what sort of pesto and dips you are using, but if you play your cards right, they might almost be healthy.  Certainly, the zucchini is a good start in this direction and if, like me, you are using homemade dips in your muffins, you might be working in all sorts of handy vitamins from roasted capsicums, sunflower seeds, broccoli, hazelnuts and herbs.  But having said that, these muffins will work with just about any sort of non-yoghurt-based vegetable or herb dip you have to hand.  So, I wouldn’t try them with hummus or tzatziki, but babaganoush would work, as would olive dip, sun dried tomato dip, or any kind of roast pepper dip or paté. Just make sure you really like the flavour of it, because it will be the main muffiny flavour.

A cream cheese dip would probably work, too, though be prepared for a very cheesy flavour to your muffin.  (Also, you just lost any claim to healthiness in this muffin.  Sorry.)  The dip is replacing some of the liquid, some of the egg, and some of the oil from a standard muffin recipe, so be mindful of this when making your dip selections.

As for the surprise – it’s more pesto!  Or rather, different pesto, in a dollop at the centre of the muffin.  This, in fact, is where your cheesy dip would really work, with a herby pesto in the muffin itself.  Or you could use a cherry tomato for a lovely fresh centre.

Your Shopping and Leftovers List

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour (wholemeal is good if you have it, might as well add an air of healthiness to these muffins)
1/2 tsp herbs such as paprika, oregano, thyme, chilli, fennel – depending on your dip flavours
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, optional
2 medium zucchini, coarsely grated
3/4 cup roasted capsicum and sunflower seed spread, or another pesto or vegetable/herb/nut  spread of your choice
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cup low fat milk
about 1/2 cup broccoli pesto, or other dip of your choice, or about 16 cherry tomatoes, whole

Now what will you do with it?

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin tray with paper cases.  You may need two trays – I got 16 muffins from this recipe.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, herbs, parmesan and zucchini.


In a medium-sized jug, beat together the capsicum spread, eggs, oil and milk until smooth and homogenous.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones, and mix together as quickly as possible, until you have a lumpy batter with no bits of dry flour showing.

Fill each muffin cup about half full with the batter.  Top with a teaspoon of broccoli pesto, or a cherry tomato, and then cover this with more batter.


Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the muffins pass the skewer test.  They will be fairly soft, but you do want them to dry out and stop being frittata.

Serve warm or at room temperature.


This recipe is easily made dairy-free with soy milk and by omitting the parmesan.  I don’t think it will readily go egg-free, I’m afraid.  If you manage to find suitable dips and spreads that are nut-free, then these muffins will be nut-free, too, but I wouldn’t count on it.  And yes, this recipe will work with gluten-free flour mixes.


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2 comments for “Christmas Leftovers Recipe: Zucchini Pesto Surprise muffins

  1. December 27, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Love this idea, creative lady!

  2. Catherine
    December 28, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Thanks so much, Hannah! And Merry Christmas to you! I am wildly behind on blog reading, but am looking forward to finally catching up with your adventures this week.

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