I have been trying to eat vegetarian/meatless lunches for a couple of years now, but only recently have zoodles made their way onto my plate… I know, soooo 2014! 😉 It kind of happened by accident: about three months ago, I mentioned to a friend of mine that I was going shopping for a minimalist spiralizer to see how I liked zoodles, and she very kindly offered me hers because it had been used exactly once. I half-expected it to have a similar fate in my kitchen, but boy, has it changed my life! Truth be told, I have not looked back as fondly on regular pasta since then!
For those of you who have not heard of zoodles — i.e. zucchini noodles — it is basically zucchini cut into long strips resembling some form of noodles, and is typically made using a spiralizer. Spiralizers range from simplistic to very fancy.! My Veggetti is a bare-bones spiralizer that works pretty much like a pencil sharpener. There are two ends, one for thin strips of zoodles (like linguini) and the other for thicker strips (like fettucine). The zucchini is inserted into the desired side and twisted to get the noodles. Processing one medium-sized zucchini takes me exactly 30 seconds when I’m not hurrying. If you’re not sure how you feel about zoodles, you don’t even have to buy a spiralizer; just use a regular vegetable- or a julienne-peeler. Fyi, I have even seen julienne peelers at my local Dollarama.
Now, on to nutrition: a cup of zoodles is worth about 33 calories, with 6.5 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of fibers. Compare that with an equivalent amount of regular pasta which is worth about 240 calories, with 45 grams of carbs, of which only 1 gram is fiber. Zucchini is rich in Vitamins A, B-6 and C, as well as the minerals potassium and manganese.
While I disagree with reports of zoodles tasting just like pasta, it does successfully fool one’s brain into thinking it’s eating noodles and is strangely satisfying! There is something else worth mentioning: I have been reading accounts of newly-converted vegetarians raving about a spike in energy level from the increased uptake of fruit & vegetables for decades now, but had never experienced it until I started having zoodles everyday. Even though I still eat a large lunch, it now consists almost entirely of vegetables that I combine with the zoodles and I have no carb base other than the occasional root vegetable. I have noticed a huge jump in my energy levels and I find that I am much more focused during the day.
You must have guessed that I wouldn’t be rambling on about zoodles unless I meant to share a recipe! To celebrate my love for this incredible now-staple in my diet, I have decided to do a short zoodle recipe series. For the next couple of weeks, I will be sharing some of my favourite zoodle recipes in the weekly Saturday posts. To kick this series off, I’ll start with a simple but healthy recipe: salmon-rapini zoodle sautéed! You can substitute the rapini with spinach, kale or some other green, and the salmon with tofu, tuna or chicken.
You will need:
- Zucchini — 1 medium-sized, spralized
- Rapini — approximately one cup, chopped
- Salmon — ½ cup, grilled with salt & pepper and flaked
- Garlic — 4-5 cloves, chopped
- Ginger root — 1tsp, chopped
- Olive (or other cooking) oil — 1.5 tbsp
- Cherry/grape tomatoes — approximately 10-12, halved (optional)
1. Preheat your oven to 450F. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Place in oven, skin side down, and broil for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the oven, remove the fish and flake with a fork. Set aside.You can also cook it on the stove.
2. Wash the zucchini very well, especially if you plan to leave the skin on. Run the zucchini through the spiralizer to make the zoodles. Zucchini is about 95% water, so you may want to get rid of some of the excess water. To do this, sprinkle zoodles with salt and place in a sieve for 15-20 minutes. You can start on the next step while the zoodles drain. When the 15-20 minutes are up, squeeze the zoodles to drain water. Set aside or use immediately.
2. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Sautée chopped garlic and ginger root, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Once the garlic is aromatic and brown, add the chopped rapini. Season with salt and pepper, and sautée for about 10 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. You can add the halved tomatoes now or save for later if you prefer them uncooked. I had gotten these beautiful tomatoes at the farmer’s market the day before, so I enjoyed them raw.
3. After 10 minutes, add the drained zoodles and grilled salmon, sprinkle in a little salt to season the zucchini, and cook for a further 5 minutes for an al dente texture. Take off heat and top with halved tomatoes (if you haven’t cooked them). Serve immediately and enjoy!