This particular episode has been a LONG time coming. Several people asked me for the recipe when I first made it back in December. I posted the basic instructions but, they wanted an official step-by-step episode. I have made vegetable noodles several times since then but, kept forgetting to film it. Luckily, I went strawberry picking yesterday at farm here in Ohio called Vested Berries. Not only were their strawberries vibrant and delicious but, they also had sugar snap peas and some massive zucchinis for sale, which prompted me to finally make good on the promise.
Vegetable “noodles” are extremely easy to make and a great way to cut down on carbs. If you adhere to the raw vegan lifestyle you can also eat them without the cooking process. So far, I have made Zucchini and Eggplant noodles but, I’ve heard you can use other types of squash, gourds, or vegetables with similar consistency. However, I find Zucchini and Eggplant work best because they are 1) easier for me to find all year around and at reasonable prices 2) they take on the taste of whatever they are cooked in and 3) are the perfect texture of cooked angel hair pasta… which is what I was going for.
The one major tool you need for this project is a julienne peeler, which isn’t a typical tool found in most kitchens. You can also use a regular vegetable peeler for longer and wider noodles as well. I was told that a box grater also does the trick but, I have not tried that method. It only cost me $12 for a set of three peelers (I didn’t own a single one). They have been a WONDERFUL addition to my life outside of the noodle project. So for me it was money well spent.
The strategy is pretty simple. You wash your vegetables really well before starting. If you don’t want some of the noodles to be green or purple you can simply remove the outer skin and discard. Then you just zip away with the vegetable in long even strokes to create delicate noodle strips. I add a little salt and few tablespoons of oil to them. Mix well by hand and leave in the fridge until ready to cook. Heat a large pan and add the noodles in slowly. I start in small batches sautéing a little as I go. Then I add in more a tong full at a time until they are all in the pan. Keep them moving so they don’t stick to the pan. The oil you added earlier should be all you need. It takes about 2 minutes tops to soften the noodles. Then I take them out and place them in a bowl. After the noodles I just use the same pan to create my sauce. A good Pomodoro sauce or Tomato Basil are obvious choices but, you can also use Alfredo, Pesto, and add lots of veggies. These days I am staying away from cheese as my poor lactose intolerant tummy just can’t handle it right now.
In total this whole process takes me about 10-15 minutes to make straight out. Yesterday, with stopping to film and adjust lights, it took me a total of 25 minutes. So, definitely a fast meal that can be made after a hard day of work or when you don’t feel like “cooking” anything complicated. Plus, Zucchini is very good for your health. 1 cup of summer squash gives you plenty of Vit C, Vit B6, Molydenum, Manganese, Vit B2, Potassium, Folate, Fiber, Magnesium, Vit A, Phosphorus, Vit K, B1, Tryptophan, Copper, Vit B3, a little protein and Omega 3s..all with only about 18 calories. It does contain a fair amount of starches but, compared to plain pasta there is no contest nutrition or calorie wise.
This method is also very versatile. You can make wider noodles for lasagna dishes. Fatter noodles can substitute for udon or ramen noodles. I’ve even added these to cut down on the standard pasta in my Yaki Soba dish. The options are up to your imagination and taste buds. Either way introducing more vegetables into your diet is always a great thing. Finding a way to sneak it in without making a big deal out if the better! I made this for my mom… who doesn’t like zucchini or eggplant…and she didn’t even realize it until I told her! Ha ha.
ZUCCHINI PASTA WITH TOMATO BASIL SAUCE
1 CUP TOMATO SAUCE
1 Bunch FRESH BASIL
½ CUP GREEN ONION
1 CUP CHOPPED ZUCCHINI HEART
3 CLOVE GARLIC
½ CUP BELL PEPPER (OPTIONAL)
½ CUP RED ONION (OPTIONAL)
1 TBSP GARLIC POWDER
1 TBSP DRIED ITALIAN SEASONING
1 TBSP SEA SALT
2 TBSP OLIVE OR GRAPESEED OIL
1) Wash the Zucchini very well. Then using a vegetable peeler take off the green layer of skin. You can keep or discard as desired.
2) Using the julienne peeler make top to bottom swipes along the zucchini. By turning as you go along the noodles will remain evenly shaped. Do not grate through the seeded core.
3) Add a salt and oil. Toss the noodles well to coat evenly.
4) Cover and refrigerate until ready to use
5) Heat a large pan until water begins to sizzle on the surface but, not sputter. Then add the noodles into the pan in small batches at a time. When all the noodles are in continue to stir around the pan for 2 minutes or until the noodles are soft.
6) Remove from heat and set aside.
7) Add the Tomato Sauce to the pan on low heat. Add all the remaining vegetables and cook until softened.
8) Add the Noodles back into the pan to coat and then serve.
Molybdenum:Never heard of this mineral? You’re not alone. Molybdenum is an essential nutrient that is rarely spoken about but, extremely vital to many biochemical processes. Do you like breathing? Well molybdenum is essential for cellular respiration and utilizing oxygen. It’s vital to DNA and RNA reproduction, iron metabolism, uric acid excretion, and sexual health in men. It also helps prevent cavities, helps metabolize fat and carbs, and helps prevent certain cancers, and is a cofactor for many enzymes in the body. It is also useful in helping the body get rid of toxins, purines, and sulfates. Sulfates are used as preservatives in say lunch meat, processed foods, and things on salad bars. These can cause rapid heart rates, headaches, or disorientation in people sensitive to them.?
Fiber: lowers cholesterol, stabilizes blood sugar (great for diabetics), keeps that digestive tract happy with its soluble and insoluble fiber, helps lower risk for certain cancers especially colon and intestinal. ?
Protein: Whether vegetarian or Omnivore we all need protein to help our body run properly. Chickpeas provide a very LOW FAT variety. ?
Folate: Supports red blood cell production and prevents anemia, supports cell productions (especially skin, intestines, gums, lungs), maintains proper nerve function, helps prevent dementia, prevents high levels of homocysteine which can lead to coronary heart disease and strokes. Folate deficiency has been linked to cancer of the lungs, uterus, lungs, esophagus, cervix, and intestines. ?
Manganese: Helps your body utilize several other key nutrients (biotin, thiamin, ascorbic acid, choline), keeps bones strong and healthy, keeps blood sugar levels normal, keeps your thyroid working properly, keeps nerves happy and healthy, Anti-oxidant that protects cells from free radical damage.?
Copper: needed so iron can be absorbed and used properly in the body, reduces tissue damage from free radicals in the body, maintains healthy bones and connective tissue, helps body produce melanin, helps thyroid function properly, protective for nerves.?
Iron: distributes oxygen through out the body, prevents anemia, keeps your immune system healthy, helps body produce energy.?
Vitamin K: Not just some throw away vitamin. K is vital to blood clotting properly, protecting bones from fracturing and bone loss, prevents calcification of arteries (cardiovascular disease), promising in preventing liver and prostate cancers.?Selenium: Vital to thyroid health, Anti-oxidant that protects cells against free radical damage, lowers risk of joint inflammation (rheumatoid arthritis), helps to repair DNA in damaged cells.?
Phosphorus: Makes up 1% of total body weight. It is present in every cell of the body, found mostly in bones and teeth. Regulates usage of proteins, fats and carbs in the body. Helps regulate kidney function, heart beat, and nerve functions.