Zucchini Noodles Made Easy

Zucchini Noodles Made Easy ~  This simplified method of creating zucchini noodles yields wide ribbons that require nothing more than a quick sear and a sprinkle of salt and pepper – yet they serve as a fine foundation for a plethora of other toppings, too.

Zucchini Noodles Made Easy  ~  This simplified method of creating zucchini noodles yields wide ribbons that require nothing more than a quick sear and a sprinkle of salt and pepper – yet they serve as a fine foundation for a plethora of other toppings, too.

 

What’s the only month without a holiday?  As simple as this recent crossword puzzle clue seemed, I had to ponder it for a minute.

Never having considered the seemingly easy question, I promptly quizzed my family to see if they had a ready answer.  As it turns out, you won’t get a day off in August, because it’s the only month without a real holiday.

Sometimes it seems, we have to carve out new reasons to celebrate.  I didn’t, however, have a readily available recipe for National Raspberry Cream Pie Day (August 1) and didn’t think you’d need one for National Root Beer Float Day (August 6) or National S’mores Day (August 10).

Last month’s Cuppa Cuppa Cuppa Cobbler sort of covers National Peach Pie Day on August 24, and I highly recommend trying Sweet Tea Brined Chicken for—you guessed it—National Sweet Tea Day on August 21.

Officially, August 8 was National Zucchini Day — and also International Beer Day — although this prolific plant might even merit a month-long honor, as so many of us are picking, cooking, giving away, and otherwise receiving a steady supply of these fresh-from-the-garden veggies for a significant portion of the summer.

Luckily, zucchini and summer squash, a close relative, are endlessly versatile, adapting to the grill, stovetop, and oven, perking up baked goods and standing in for pasta.

As a case in point, I recently heard of adding zucchini — which is low in calories, carbs, and sugars but high in essential nutrients — to smoothies.  (Though the flavor is mild enough that it would likely go undetected, I haven’t added this seasonal vegetable to my blender yet!)

The concept of using zucchini noodles as a low-carb alternative to pasta vaulted into the mainstream when spiralizers became trendy in 2014.  Of course, not everyone has felt compelled to purchase yet another kitchen gadget or jump on the low-carb bandwagon.  Some may have tried zucchini noodles and found them to be a tad watery.

Perhaps a barebones approach would be reason to reconsider — or appreciate them in a new way if you’re already a fan.  These simplified zucchini “ribbons” are a worthy addition to any diet, whether you’re leaning more heavily towards a plant-based diet or simply in need of a novel side dish to serve alongside salmon and steak.

Zucchini Noodles Made Easy ~  This simplified method of creating zucchini noodles yields wide ribbons that require nothing more than a quick sear and a sprinkle of salt and pepper – yet they serve as a fine foundation for a plethora of other toppings, too.

Sure you could use a spiralizer or mandoline, but for this simple dish, I prefer the convenience and texture of wider ribbons fashioned with quick and easy swipes of a potato peeler. I use a Y-shaped peeler, but a traditional potato peeler will do the job.

To avoid watered-down sauces, I typically salt and drain the standard spiralized zucchini.  As an added bonus, however, the following peeling method eliminates the moisture-laden seeds,rendering the salting step unnecessary.

Start with the basic recipe and, if desired, fortify it with the optional extras.  For a vegan meal that truly satisfies, I like to stir roasted tomatoes and mushrooms into the cooked zucchini.  Roasting concentrates the flavor, providing an umami-rich enhancement. I’ve included that simple recipe for those who may enjoy.

Zucchini Noodles Made Easy ~  This simplified method of creating zucchini noodles yields wide ribbons that require nothing more than a quick sear and a sprinkle of salt and pepper – yet they serve as a fine foundation for a plethora of other toppings, too.

More zucchini recipes you may enjoy:

For even more recipes from the zucchini archives, click here.

Zucchini Noodles Made Easy
Yield: 2 servings (Easy to double – simply cook in two batches to avoid crowding the pan)
This simplified method of creating zucchini noodles yields wide ribbons that require nothing more than a quick sear and a sprinkle of salt and pepper – yet they serve as a fine foundation for a plethora of other toppings, too.
Ingredients
  • 1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium-large; may use a combination of yellow squash and zucchini)
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  •  Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Optional for serving: 1-2 tablespoons pesto or basil vinaigrette (last week’s recipe); crumbled feta cheese, chopped nuts and/or seeds; slivered basil, chopped thyme, or fresh herbs of choice; roasted or grilled vegetables (see following recipe); cooked shrimp or chicken; marinara sauce
Instructions
  1. Using a vegetable peeler, press firmly into the zucchini and peel it into long, wide ribbons. Work your way around the zucchini (sort of like it’s a rectangle and you’re peeling the four sides), stopping when you get to the seeds.  Discard the seedy core.
  2. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the zucchini ribbons and sprinkle with salt (I use about 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt) and several grinds of the pepper mill. Cook, tossing and stirring the zucchini, for 2 to 3 minutes only (I err on the shorter side).  The ribbons should be just softened and not limp or mushy.  Adjust the seasonings to taste, and transfer to a serving dish.
  3. Serve as is or toss with pesto or marinara sauce, or stir in add-ins of choice.  Delicious served hot or at room temperature.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

Versatile Slow Roasted Tomatoes ⇩⇩ are another way to add flavor and seasonal flare to an otherwise simple bowl of zucchini noodles.

Bursting with umami and incredibly versatile, slow roasted tomatoes are a must to try...and they freeze well, too!

More ways to enjoy:

When I pair roasted veggies with the sautéed zucchini ribbons, I often add a spoonful of pesto (or this slightly more complex pesto) or basil vinaigrette along with a sprinkle of sunflower seeds and/or pepitas for an element of crunch.  

A handful of baby greens and crumbled feta complements nicely, as does a drizzle of syrupy balsamic instead of pesto.

You could even roast some slivered onions along with the tomatoes and mushrooms, or pile the flavorful mixture atop pieces of crusty bread with a sprinkle of your favorite cheese.

How about grilling the veggies instead of roasting them?  Or toss in some cooked shrimp or chicken or serve alongside grilled steaks.  Feel free to share your favorite ways to enjoy!

Roasted Tomatoes & Mushrooms
Yield: 2 servings
This simple combination of roasted tomatoes and mushrooms is delightful as is yet endlessly versatile, so don’t hesitate to get creative.  Note that the dish will be vegetarian with the addition of cheese and vegan without. Enjoy warm or room temperature—cold leftovers are quite tasty, too!
Ingredients
  • 1 rounded cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 8 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered if large
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment for easy cleanup.
  2. In a mixing bowl, clean produce or zip-top bag, or with your hands directly on the baking sheet, toss the tomatoes and mushrooms with the oil. You can eyeball this, as you want just enough oil to lightly coat the veggies.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and then spread in an even layer on the baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, give them a stir, and then spread them back out and roast for 5-10 minutes more or until tender and lightly caramelized.
  3. Enjoy hot or at room temperature. Delicious stirred into traditional pasta or zucchini noodles, spooned over fish or chicken, added to orzo and quinoa salads, etc.
The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

 

 

 

 

 

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