As I ventured more and more into the realm of healthy cooking and plant-based eating, I started to hear a lot about zucchini pasta. And I have to admit, I was skeptical at first. My main issue was simply the idea of yet another piece of kitchen equipment. For those who know me well, you know I don’t like a lot of clutter. So I had to ask myself, did I really need a vegetable spiralizer to make noodles out of zucchini, which I was doubtful my son would eat? Well, my husband seemed to settle the question when I first brought the idea up to him, “we don’t need that”, he said.
I thought I was completely over the idea of a vegetable spiralizer until my good friend got one. And then she began making zucchini noodles. She even sent me pictures of her beautiful vegetables noodles and told me about the delicious recipes she was making. It didn’t help that it is summer, zucchini is in season, and I am receiving a lot of zucchini every week from my CSA. What was I going to do with all of this zucchini? That was the last straw, I decided I just had to try it. So I went ahead and made my purchase, as well as some room in my cabinets, and I am I glad I did! (If you are interested, I purchased the Paderno World Cuisine Spiral Vegetable Slicer on Amazon.com.)
Let me tell you, the spiralizer is simple to use and it makes beautiful, long, zucchini “noodles” that look just like pasta. And the amazing thing is that my son likes it and eats it! For a child who loves spaghetti, it it nice to be able to give him a break from wheat-based pasta while at the same time getting him to eat more vegetables.
And have I mentioned how good zucchini is for you? Zucchini is high in fiber, water, vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, magnesium and manganese. The water and fiber in zucchini can help you manage your weight by providing low-calorie volume. Vitamins A and C are not only powerful antioxidants, but are also effective anti-inflammatory agents. Also, potassium has been shown to help lower blood pressure and magnesium can help lower the risk of heart attack and stroke.
To begin the process of making the noodles, insert the smallest blade into the spiralizer. Then wash and cut off the ends of the zucchini. I chose to peel the zucchini to make it look more like pasta, but you can leave the skin on if you prefer (the skin will provide added nutrients). Next, center the zucchini on the spiralizer and turn the handle to make the noodles.
After you make your noodles, sauté them for 2 or 3 minutes in a pan with olive oil and a little salt and pepper to taste. This will soften the noodles and give them some extra flavor. They will also have more of the texture of cooked pasta. However, you can skip this part and leave them raw if you prefer.
To go along with my zucchini pasta, I also like to make a large pot of tomato sauce. For me, if I am going to make tomato sauce, then I may as well make extra so I can freeze about half in a mason jar to use later on for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. This recipe will make about 8-10 servings of tomato sauce. To make the sauce, I begin by sautéing a medium chopped onion in olive oil in a large pot for about 2 minutes. Then I add chopped mushrooms and cook for another 2-3 minutes until soft.
Next, I add 2 jars of organic crushed tomatoes, fresh basil, parsley and oregano and a can of cannellini beans (well-blended), and bring to a boil. Once the sauce comes to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and let the sauce simmer for about 45 minutes.
There are many health benefits to this tomato sauce. Some of the highlights include lycopene, a very powerful antioxidant found in tomatoes. And cooked tomatoes provide more lycopene than fresh tomatoes because cooking breaks down the cell walls of the tomato making it easier to absorb the lycopene. Also, I really want my tomato sauce to be nutrient dense so I add blended cannellini beans for the protein, fiber, folate and magnesium. The cannellini beans add a variety of health benefits including promoting digestive health, preventing heart disease and stabilizing blood sugar.
If you are making the sauce and noodles on the same day, then make the sauce first and prepare your zucchini noodles while the sauce is cooking.
- 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 8 ounces of mushrooms, chopped (pick your favorite variety)
- 2 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes (I use Eden Organic with the BPA-free lining)
- 3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons of fresh oregano, finely chopped
- 1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans (I use Eden Organic with the BPA-free lining)
- Pink Himalayan sea salt to taste
- I use about 2 small to medium zucchini for each serving
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- Pink Himalayan sea salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil.
- Add the onions and sauté for about 2 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms and sauté for another 3 minutes until soft.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, parsley, basil and oregano.
- Drain and rinse the cannellini beans.
- Puree the cannellini beans until smooth in a blender. You may need to add a few tablespoons of filtered water or some of the sauce in order to blend the beans until smooth.
- Add the pureed beans to the sauce and stir well.
- Bring the sauce to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for about 45 minutes.
- Add the sea salt for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking to taste.
- Rinse the zucchini and cut of the ends.
- Peel the zucchini if you want it to look more like pasta. However, leaving the skin on provides more nutrients.
- Place the zucchini in the vegetable spiralizer and turn the handle to make the noodles.
- Heat a skillet with the olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the noodles and salt and pepper to taste.
- Sauté the noodles for about 2 minutes until slightly soft.
- Remove the noodles from the pan and place on a plate covered with a paper towel.
- Allow the paper towel to soak up the extra moisture for about 2-3 minutes.
- Divide the noodles onto plates and top with the tomato sauce.
- Optional - sprinkle with some shredded cheese.