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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.
Today: Turn your zucchini into pasta -- with or without fancy equipment. Gena Hamshaw schools us on three ways to do it.
You may have heard of zucchini pasta on blogs, or in recipes, and you may have wondered what the heck these folks were talking about: Do they mean a pasta dish with zucchini as an ingredient? Or wheat pasta that’s pasta made with zucchini (kind of like spinach pasta)? Or is it zucchini that’s somehow been sliced to resemble pasta itself?
You could call any of these things "zucchini pasta," but when I talk about it, I almost always mean raw zucchini that has been sliced to look -- and act -- like noodles. The point of the dish isn’t really to mimic a bowl of wheat pasta -- let’s not try to improve upon perfection -- but rather to create a fresh, creative, and fun raw vegetable dish that isn’t just another salad. And it’s a great way to enjoy some of your favorite pasta sauces in a new way.
There are a few ways to prepare zucchini pasta, or noodles, at home. The first is the easiest, but also the most expensive: You can purchase a nifty tool called a spiralizer. These range from about $15 to $35, and if you're really into creating noodle shapes with raw vegetables, they’re well worth your money. Various blades allow you to cut long, thin, spaghetti-like noodles, or windy thin strips, like the ones pictured here. As an added bonus, you can also use them for carrots, radishes, cucumbers, or beets, which makes for some really pretty salad fixings.
If you don't have a special appliance, though, you can still make zucchini pasta. Here are the easiest ways:
- Use a box grater with medium or large holes. Grate along the sides of your zucchini, working in long motions. You'll end up with zucchini that looks like it’s ready to be turned into slaw, but once you cover it with some pasta sauce, it’ll seem perfectly noodle-ish to you.
- Use a regular vegetable peeler, lightly running it along your zucchini. You’ll end up with thin, flexible, easy strips. If you want to get really fancy, you can trim your zucchini, cut it in half, and then run your peeler over each half lengthwise while applying a bit of pressure. This will give you long, flat, thick noodles -- sort of like tagliatelle.
- If you want an option that lies somewhere between buying a spiralizer and using a conventional vegetable peeler, you can always buy a julienne peeler. It's a cheap, handy tool (perfectly grated carrots, anyone?) that makes stellar zucchini noodles in a snap.
I like to serve zucchini noodles in any of the ways I’d serve pasta: with cashew alfredo; pesto; freshly chopped tomatoes, basil, and olive oil; or a homemade vegan peanut sauce when I feel like something Asian-inspired. Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing my favorite zucchini noodle recipe: raw zucchini marinara. Stay tuned!
Photos by Mark Weinberg and James Ransom
Gena's new book Choosing Raw: Making Raw Foods Part of the Way You Eat is a thorough, relatable guide to incorporating raw and vegan foods into any diet. It's full of no-fuss recipes for every meal, which range from fully raw to mostly cooked, with plenty of snacks and desserts to keep everyone happy.