It’s the last day of summer and I’m celebrating with the last of the beautifully fresh, local zucchini. That’s right. I’m going to sit here in my kitchen and wallow in noodles.
I’ll admit, I’m usually late to the party when it comes to food trends. I know people have been spiralizing vegetables for years now, but I’ve only recently (this summer, that is) taken a liking to it. It’s so much easier and more fun than I thought it would be, not to mention a really healthy way to add some interesting texture and flavor to your plate. Zucchini is currently my favorite vegetable to work with, although I’m seeing a lot of sweet potato recipes floating around the “blogosphere” that I’m very interested in trying.
Although the zucchini noodles can be eaten raw, I prefer to sauté them a bit in olive oil and garlic to soften them up and bring out their flavor. You can use zucchini noodles just about anywhere you’d use pasta or noodles, and it tastes just as good (if not better!) I used the 3 mm setting which I think makes for the perfect size and texture.
For this recipe I combined the zucchini noodles with a pesto made with arugula and walnuts. If you don’t like arugula or walnuts you can certainly substitute other greens (such as spinach, basil, kale) or nuts (such as pine nuts or almonds). *The pesto should be creamy, not watery. I usually add a bit of oil, pulse a few times then take a peak inside the food processor to check for the right consistency.
I really enjoyed the peppery, lemony, flavor of the arugula. The walnuts gave it a really rich, earthy finish. But there is one thing I don’t like about eating pesto, and that’s smelling like garlic all day long. I have a little trick for that…
**instead of blending the garlic in with the other pesto ingredients, I add it to a hot sauté pan and cook it with the noodles. That takes away some of that raw garlic pungency. If you like raw garlic though, by all means add it right into the blender with the rest of the pesto ingredients. The sauce is added straight from the blender to the cooked noodles.
It may seem like a lot of zucchini when you first add it to the pan, but believe me it’s not. It’s like spinach…it basically disintegrates when it’s cooked. You need to be careful that you don’t overcook the noodles, or you will have zucchini mush (not visually appealing but still yummy). They only need a few quick minutes in the pan. I top off the dish with a bit of lemon zest and extra parmigiano-reggiano cheese! And please, please use the real thing in this recipe…no imitation parmesan cheese (the label should read parmigiano–reggiano). It makes a big difference in flavor.
So, goodbye summer. It was a blast, as always. But, now onto cozy slippers, blankets, fireplaces, warm soups, pumpkins, apples and fall-spiced things. Ok, maybe that doesn’t sound so bad after all! 😉
- 3 medium sized zucchini spiraled into noodles
- ½ cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese + more for topping
- ⅓ cup walnuts (preferably unsalted)
- 4 cups (packed) arugula or baby arugula
- 1 tbsp water
- 1 clove garlic minced (see above **)
- ⅓ cup plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (may need to add a bit more or less)* for pesto + 2 tbsp more for sauté pan
- 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
- kosher salt
- Make the pesto by combining arugula, walnuts, water, cheese, oil, in a food processor until creamy but not watery.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and sauté garlic in oil for about a minute.
- Add the noodles, a pinch of salt and pepper and sauté for about 3-4 minutes.
- Add cooked noodles to a medium sized bowl and toss with the pesto to combine.
- Top with lemon zest and extra parmigiano-reggiano cheese.