Being born of an Italian-American mother, I have an affinity for Italian food. Especially southern Italian: think pasta loaded with tomato sauce. I’m not so much into creamy sauces – in fact, I never knew those existed in Italian cuisine until I moved away from home!
Zuke noodles? Whaaaat? Yep. So let’s get this out of the way right up front: I love pasta. Uh huh. When I was younger I used to say I could eat pasta 5 nights a week and it was true. Thank God we have a high metabolism when we’re young! But as I’ve grown older I’ve come to the realization that processed carbs from grain are just not good for you. (I’ll spare you the whole paleo/low carb/processed foods discussions for now and shelve that for another post or three.) I still ate Italian after I began avoiding grains. It wasn’t so bad because I would enjoy meatballs and Chicken Parmigiana, my two go to Italian meals. I got my sauce but still I missed the pasta.
On Christmas in 2015, my daughter Kelly gave me a Kitchen Active Spiralizer. What a great gift! Now I would be able to have a red sauce with “noodles”, or as they’re often called, “Zoodles”. The first time I made zuke noodles I thought “How hard can this be? Just make the noodles and throw some sauce on them.” Did I have much to learn!
I soon discovered that Zucchinis are loaded with water. The water stays obediently inside the noodles but then wants to escape when the zuke noodles are heated and sauce is added to them. My first attempt at making a meal with zuke noodles was disastrous – the noodles released so much water that they watered down the tomato sauce and made for a very soupy dish. Yuk!
So how do you remove the moisture from the noodles? The best way I’ve found to do this is by brining them – using salt to draw the moisture out. I’ve tried it a few times and used several different methods, and I proffer for you the process that has worked best for me.
3 medium zucchini squash
1 TBSP Kosher salt
1 TBSP Olive Oil
Sauce of your choosing
For this meal you’ll need three medium sized zukes per person; two zukes yielded a pretty small portion. I know what you’re thinking and stick with me! Remember there’s a lot of water that needs to be removed. You may peel the zukes if you wish; I don’t because the skins are loaded with vitamins and I like the extra color.
Use your spiralizer to turn your zukes into noodles. I made my noodles right over the colander in the sink. (Be careful when your zukes get short – I nicked my thumb on the sharp blade in the spiralizer and had to interrupt the process to bandage the wound. Grrrr.) About every three twists, I pulled the zuke out to break the strands and keep them at a manageable length.
Once you’ve got all your noodles in the colander sprinkle about a tablespoon of Kosher salt on the pile. Do this in stages – sprinkle some salt, toss the noodles to mix, repeat. Set the colander in the sink to let the salt work its magic for about 30 minutes. Occasionally you can gently but firmly squeeze the noodles to remove the water that has been drawn out.
While your noodles are brining out, use this time to heat your sauce, grate your cheese, mince your garlic, and set your table.
After 30 mins of brining transfer the noodles to your skillet with Olive Oil and minced garlic. Saute the noodles for a few minutes. The goal here is to heat the noodles and firm them up a little; you’ll also notice quite a bit of steam as the noodles continue to release even more water from their grasp.
Immediately transfer the noodles to a plate and top with your favorite tomato sauce (or cream sauce if you must, but I won’t sanction it!) Optional garnishes include grated Parmesan cheese and hot peppers. Mangia!