Oodles of Zoodles

After a fabulous road trip to northern California to see the great, awe-inspiring redwood trees, I am back in Seattle and  enjoying summer's last stand. I loved being away but I missed being in my kitchen! The first real dinner I made when we got home featured one of August's most prolific vegetables: zucchini. It was such a hit that I thought I'd share the recipe.

Last year, after months of seeing spiralized vegetables on many of my favorite food blogs, I decided to take the plunge and buy a spiralizer. This is the one that I have and I love it. It's super simple to use and easy to clean.

I've now spiralized zucchini, carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes and it's on my list to try beets and broccoli stems as well. There are so many options! I've made zucchini noodles (aka zoodles) several times and I think I finally have the hang of it.

They are easy and delicious and to be honest I don't even miss regular pasta noodles. It's a great low-carb (and gluten-free) option to add to your repertoire.

When making zucchini noodles, two important things to remember are:

1 - make your sauce first and have it ready to go

2 - don't overcook the zoodles!

If you add the zucchini noodles at the end and toss them into the sauce for a few minutes over medium heat, they will not taste raw (although they are delicious that way too) and they will not be mushy.

I make this recipe differently every time, often just using whatever is in my fridge or cabinet. I usually have pre-cooked chicken or turkey sausages around, but you could easily leave them out and make this a strictly vegetarian dish. I always keep some kind of pesto on hand (at the moment I am loving the vegan basil pesto from our local store, PCC). I toss that into my sauce right before I add the zoodles.

Summer Zoodles

Start by seeing what you have in your refrigerator or kitchen garden. I used Italian sausages, an onion, some sliced mushrooms, 1/2 a pint of yellow cherry tomatoes that I cut in half and some collards from a friend's garden. You could also use things from your pantry like garlic, roasted peppers, sliced kalamata olives, or diced tomatoes.

Then prep your ingredients. When everything is prepped and ready this dish comes together in minutes.

Dice your onion, cut the stems out of your greens and chop up the leaves (kale, spinach, chard, beet greens - any of those would work here if you have them). Wash and slice any other veggies you want to use as well and have them ready to throw in the pan. Cut up your sausages if you are going to use them (1-2 sausages are usually enough to add some extra flavor and protein) and set them aside. I like to cut them lengthwise in quarters and then dice them into smaller pieces.

Wash your zucchini and slice off the top and the bottom so that it fits like this on your spiralizer.

Then turn the crank and make your noodles so that you have them ready to go. I usually use 2 large or 3 medium zucchini for 3-4 people. Sometimes the noodles are super long. You may want to cut them in half.

Heat a large skillet and add some oil (I usually use coconut oil) and when it's hot, add your sausage. As the sausage starts to get brown, add in the onions. Keep the heat around medium high until the onion gets a bit soft (about 5 minutes), then turn it down to medium and start adding in the rest of your veggies. If you are using cherry tomatoes you might want to press the back of them with a wooden spoon so that they add their juice to the rest of the sauce. Add the greens in last. Spinach cooks pretty fast (2-3 minutes) but you might want to give heartier greens like kale and collards more like 4-5 minutes depending on your taste.

At this point I turn the heat to medium low, add salt and pepper and then about 3 healthy tablespoons (or more) of pesto and stir it all in. Finally, add the zucchini noodles. Use 2 forks to toss them in gently but thoroughly until they are well combined. The zoodles only need a couple of minutes in the pan to get heated all the way through and then they are good to go.

Add parmesan cheese if you wish and voila: delicious and nutritious!

Happy End of Summer!

xo, Lisa