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Lighten Up Pasta with Garden-Fresh Zucchini

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/6/2012 2:00 PM   :  24 comments   :  38,737 Views

Pasta may be too heavy for a hot summer night, but you can lighten it up by substituting or swapping it out with vegetables.
 
Zucchini pasta is super easy to prepare and perfect for anyone who is gluten-intolerant, diabetic, low carbing it, a raw food lover, or those like me that are up to their ears in zucchini from the garden.  Zucchini pasta is nothing more than raw zucchini that has been cut to mimic traditional pasta: fettuccine, linguine, and yes even lasagna. 



Depending on your tool arsenal you may have several choices for cutting the zucchini. 

The spiralizer is the Cadillac of choices.  If anyone is willing to let me borrow one, give me a call! 

You already know I'm not keen on fancy tools. I like to keep it simple! In my kitchen, I have a couple of options. 

First, the knife. Slice thin strips from the zucchini then stack 2-3 layers deep and slice into strips.  This works well if you are looking for a fettuccine shape. 

Second, the vegetable peeler. It's a speed demon for shaving off long strips of zucchini that are perfect for a lasagna style noodle. 

Lastly, a julienne vegetable peeler.  These peelers can be found at most online kitchen stores or markets and will only set you back $10-$12.  They work just like a traditional peeler except that as you move the peeler it does double duty in slicing and shredding the zucchini into long matchsticks.
 
You have the cuts, now it's time to get cooking.  What do you do with the zucchini pasta noodles?
 
Swap out half a serving of traditional whole-wheat pasta with zucchini noodles.  The zucchini noodles should be about the same size as the traditional pasta noodles.  Add the zucchini noodles to the pasta noodles in the last minute of cooking.  Serve with light sauces like pesto, simple sliced grape tomatoes and basil with just a short pour of olive oil, or tossed in garlic, heart healthy chopped nuts and a finely shredded flavorful cheese like Asiago or Manchego.

Go 100% zucchini noodles.  Cook the zucchini for just one minute in boiling water and a pinch of salt then immediately drain and run cold water over the zucchini to stop the cooking.  

Mediterranean: Toss with sliced artichoke hearts (use canned ones packed in brine that you've drained and rinsed), herbs from the garden plus a dollop of goat cheese for a cool summer pasta salad. 

Asian: Miso paste is a perfect pairing with the zucchini pasta.  Combine three shredded zucchini with two teaspoons miso paste and one tablespoon warm water; toss and serve. 

Lasagna: Long flat strips are wonderful for a new take on layered pasta.  Sauté chopped shallots with cherry or grape tomatoes in a small amount of olive oil, then stir in grated Parmesan cheese.  Layer the filling between the flat strips of zucchini, fold into a parcel and mist with cooking spray. Return to the pan to heat the zucchini.  Sauté 1-2 minutes on each side, then transfer to a plate.  Add 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar to the pan, heat it until it sizzles, then pour over "noodles."
 
Raw:  Zucchini pasta is a perfect raw choice.  Select smaller zucchini that are more tender.  Cut into your desired shape, sprinkle with pinch of salt and let rest 20 minutes.  Rinse away the salt and toss in other raw favorites like avocado, tomatoes, and herbs.
 
As the garden supply of zucchini starts to dwindle don't fret, spaghetti squash will be ready any day and you can start making spaghetti squash pasta!
 
Do you ever swap pasta for veggies?
 
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Comments

  • 24
    I suggest an investment in a spiralizer. I got one online for only about $34 and I love what it does. It has paid for itself many times over in what I can spiralize. - 11/5/2013   1:15:39 AM
  • 23
    Thank you for the tips. - 8/23/2012   1:04:57 AM
  • 22
    Thank you for the tips. - 8/23/2012   1:04:56 AM
  • 21
    I love zucchini because it is so versatile, tasty, and easy to work with. can't wait to try this (currently OUT of zuch!) - 8/12/2012   12:57:36 PM
  • BILLIERENGO
    20
    I tried the option of substituting some of the lasagna noodles a recipe called for with zucchini. The end result was fantastic! Perhaps even better were the zucchini fries that my daughters helped me make. - 8/9/2012   9:39:32 AM
  • 19
    I have made zucchini lasagna for years but never thought about using as spaghetti/linguine like pasta - have TONS left left still so will give it try! - 8/8/2012   9:20:51 AM
  • 18
    Not everyone has spagetti squash. :) I've never seen it in my area, so I only have access to zucchini! - 8/7/2012   3:49:32 PM
  • 17
    Why not just use spaghetti squash? There is far less cutting to do and no special peelers required. Just split the squash in half, take out seeds, bake in the oven until tender or microwave squash side down on a plate with a tbsp of water, let cool and scoop out the squash. It comes out already shredded! - 8/7/2012   9:04:10 AM
  • JODIMV
    16
    I just learned that I like zucchini so I may have to give this a try!
    - 8/7/2012   9:03:06 AM
  • 15
    I knew about using zucchini as noodles, but have never tried it, thinking I needed some fancy tool (like a spiralizer). But thanks to this article, I realize that it's really not that complicated and using the tools I have (peelers, knives, mandoline) I can give this a shot... truly looking forward to it!
    Also, friends, thanks for all the great ideas in your posts. I love reading how you all have made veggies a big part of your meals in such creative ways! - 8/7/2012   8:55:24 AM
  • 14
    I'm now wanting to go buy some zucchini! - 8/7/2012   8:17:36 AM
  • 13
    this sounds so neat! - 8/7/2012   7:34:11 AM
  • 12
    I've heard of using spaghetti squash as spaghetti but I like this better. It's less easier.

    - 8/7/2012   12:24:28 AM
  • 11
    What an awesome "swapertunity"
    Love all these ideas! - 8/6/2012   8:31:01 PM
  • 10
    This is my FAVORITE way to eat zucchini. I'm partial to using the veggie peeler, but I go around the outside of the zucchini lengthwise, roughly in thirds or quarters for a larger zuke, and discard the seeds and the first bit that's all peel. I like to saute it with a smidge of garlic-enhanced EVOO and a sprinkle of sea salt until the zucchini is gorgeously green with just a little yummy brownness. My dad hated zucchini until I made him try it that way, and it's the only way my kids will eat it (besides zucchini bread), too. I sometimes throw in a few shredded carrots or diced tomatoes for color. I love the idea of using the julienne peeler -- think I'm going out to get one just so I can try it that way! - 8/6/2012   6:29:02 PM
  • FOXYJAY
    9
    Wow, this sounds like a great idea. I love zucchini and I loooooooove pasta - 8/6/2012   6:01:29 PM
  • 8
    Yum, I am going to do this tonight. I just love zucchini!! Thanks! - 8/6/2012   5:15:46 PM
  • 7
    What a great idea! I like the idea of swapping out some of the pasta for the zucchini. I keep meaning to try spagetti squash pasta as well. - 8/6/2012   5:15:16 PM
  • 6
    If you don't have time to cut your own, I've found that the precut packages for broccoli slaw are also a great way to stretch a plate of pasta, and cut the calories in my spaghetti dishes. I just add it to the pasta the last minute or two of cooking. - 8/6/2012   3:58:10 PM
  • 5
    I did this and I LOVED it. - 8/6/2012   3:50:07 PM
  • DONNA5281
    4
    This sounds delicious!
    I think this will be on my dinner list for this week
    Thank you for sharing! - 8/6/2012   3:44:30 PM
  • 3
    I have a spiral slicer in my repertoire, and LOVE IT. It's pretty versatile, and can be used to make ribbon fries and more! I tried zucchini spagetti for the first time a few months ago, but it really hit the spot! I highly recommend it.

    However, I LOVE the idea of mixing it in with regular pasta! Even my veggie-phobic husband would be willing to try that, and man, would it cut the calories! I already do my pasta half-and-half with whole wheat and regular. Do 1/3 of each? That's one attractive, colorful meal! And SO healthy! - 8/6/2012   3:27:53 PM
  • 2
    I like the idea of using zucchini instead of pasta noodles especially instead of lasagna noodles. I bet yellow summer squash would work in some way also. - 8/6/2012   3:23:52 PM
  • 1
    We love zucchini lasagne at our house. I'm am excited to try the mix of long zucchini noodles and pasta in a primavera. It looks fun and tasty. - 8/6/2012   2:40:14 PM

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