I love pasta but needed to find a wheat-free substitute. I’ve found rice noodles (not the thin cellophane type, but “regular” noodles made with rice flour) don’t cut it and quinoa noodles, while delicious, are harder to find locally. When I found a quality mandolin under $50 that cut zucchini into julienne, spaghetti-size “noodles,” I took it home with me.
It’s early summer and zucchini are making their annual, abundant appearance at the grocer and farm markets just ahead of those growing in home gardens. I picked up a few, a sweet red pepper, shallots, mushrooms and chicken breasts. If you’re going to make zucchini “noodles” you’ll want the larger zucchini. I run them through the mandolin on four sides until they’re julienned down to their wetter, seeded centers. (You can always use their middles in soups or stews later.)
I paired the zucchini with sunshine rice (cooked yellow lentils mixed into cooked basmati rice), browned chicken breasts and a light mushroom, white wine, cream sauce. For those who can’t eat dairy, you can skip the cream or use what I do on occasion to create a soft “creamy” sauce: mash or hand-blend a small cooked potato into a little stock.
In this dish, I sautéed the zucchini in a little olive oil, just until tender “al denté” — a few minutes only, tossing with tongs. I’ve also made it without fat, using simple broth or even water. Fat, stock or water will help it soften without sticking to the pan. (The mandolin also has a slicing blade, which I’ve used on occasion to make zucchini “lasagna noodles” that I toss with a little butter or olive oil and top with fresh black pepper and shaved Parmesan cheese.)
It needed a pop of color. I minced and sautéed the shallot and quarter of a sweet red pepper, and finished the zucchini “noodles” with the tasty mixture. (I had some goat cheese in the fridge, so I topped the “noodles” off with a bit of that.)
This summer, when you need a new idea for all those zucchini your garden’s producing, give zucchini “noodles” a try!