Noodles & Zoodles
Well, folks, I’m only getting one recipe posted this week. And it’s an easy one-pot recipe that is super-flexible and easy to adapt to your food preferences. Because it’s been that kind of week.
Have you gotten on the zoodle bandwagon yet? I think they first became popular when the low carb-eaters started making “noodles” out of veggies in their quest to avoid flour. Well, I’m not a low carb-eater, but I LOVE the zoodles! However, since Craig likes a little more substance with his meals, mixing zoodles with actual noodles is a good balance for us. And it’s a great way to sneak some extra veggies into your meals with minimal effort.
Seriously, this recipe is four ingredients (plus any additional veggies or seasonings you want to throw in). For this post, I used rice pasta, but you can use any brand or type of spaghetti that your family likes. Same with the pasta sauce: just use what you have in your pantry.
You’ll start by preparing your pasta as directed. Don’t overcook it or the end result will be mushy. While you’re waiting on the water to boil and your pasta to cook, make your zoodles. There are several ways to do this. You can use a regular veggie peeler to make wide zoodles (sort of like fettuccine or pappardelle pasta). Or you can use a hand-held or table-mounted spiralizer. I have a table-mounted spiralizer, but it’s a pain to clean, so, for this post, I used this handy little OXO julienne peeler. (My friend Anne bought this for me back when I used to work at the courthouse, and it is one of my favorite kitchen tools!).
No matter what you use to make your zoodles, you’ll want to use as much of the zucchini flesh as possible while also avoiding as many seeds as possible.
After you make your zoodles, stack about 7-10 large basil leaves (I used our mammoth basil) and cut the leaves into strips.
When the pasta is almost done, reserve about 1 cup of the starchy pasta water. Set that aside. (This is an optional step, but I think it makes the pasta sauce stick to the noodles better when you get to the finished product).
Drain you pasta and set it aside in a colander. Using the same pot you used for the pasta, heat up the jar of pasta sauce. (If you don’t like your pasta really saucy, then just use 1/2 or 3/4 of the jar). Once the sauce is simmering, add the zoodles and reserved pasta water, stir, and cover. Let the sauce and zoodles simmer, on low-to-medium heat, for at least 5-10 minutes. Taste them periodically.
Once the zoodles are tender, add the basil ribbons and the drained pasta. Stir well. Taste and season, if necessary. (The amount and type of seasoning you add, if any, will depend on your personal preferences as well as the flavor of the sauce you used).
If you want to add more veggies, steamed broccoli would be fabulous mixed in at the end with the pasta. If you eat dairy, throw in some cheese. You can also stir in a spoonful of pesto at the end for an extra kick of garlic and basil. And if you avoid carbs or flours, then skip the pasta altogether and just enjoy a huge plate of zoodles!
- 1 zucchini
- 1 box spaghetti or fettuccine
- 1 jar pasta sauce
- 7-10 large basil leaves
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Do not overcook.
- While the pasta is cooking, use a spiralizer, vegetable peeler, or julienne peeler to make zoodles out of the zucchini. Use the zucchini flesh but try to avoid the seeds.
- Use a sharp knife to make ribbons out of the basil leaves.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain it and set it aside. Reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.
- Heat the pasta sauce. When it's simmering, add the zucchini and reserved pasta water, stir, and cook, covered, on low-to-medium heat, for at least 5-10 minutes until the zucchini is tender.
- When the zucchini is tender, add the basil and the cooked pasta.
- Stir well. Taste. Add additional seasoning, if desired.