Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Italian Zucchini Noodles

Miriam approved.
 So far, the blog's been a little light on the side items. I don't usually care much about side items - I'm in it for the meat. However, I was making a pot roast on Monday, which has the most boring recipe possible. It is literally "Put a chuck roast in a crockpot on low for 10 hours with some beef stock, salt, pepper, and garlic powder." I took the opportunity to try out a recipe idea that I'd been thinking about for a while, and it turned out well. (By that, I mean that it got the thumbs up from Miriam)

The majority of the reason I wanted to try this was as a test run for zucchini noodles. Spaghetti squash is fine, but it doesn't necessarily work for every application. I'd read somewhere that you could use a julienne peeler to easily cut zucchini into noodles, which was all the excuse I needed to buy yet another small kitchen gadget.

If you don't have a julienne peeler, you could cut the noodles with just a knife, a cutting board, and a lot of patience. I suspect that if you do it that way once, though, you'll be a lot more interested in the julienne peeler for the next time.

I actually only used three of the zucchini, but they vary in size, so you might want to use all four.

3-4 zucchini
2 cloves of garlic
3 sun-dried tomato halves
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt to taste


Julienne Peeler (Highly recommended)
Large bowl

Before you start cutting the zucchini, fill a large pot about half full of water and put it on the stove to boil.

Cut the zucchini into julienne strips. If you have a julienne peeler, it's really simple. you just peel the zucchini over and over again, and the strips come off. If you're doing it with a knife, it's going to take a lot longer. You need to cut each zucchini into strips that are 1/8 inch square, and run the length of the zucchini.

This is what you're trying to do.
Put the zucchini into the pot of boiling water, and let it cook for about two minutes. The water will probably stop boiling when you put the zucchini in, and it may not get back up to a boil before the two minutes runs out. That's OK, just leave the pot over high heat while the zucchini is cooking.

Use a bigger pot than I did. Ideally, the zucchini should have a lot more room than that.
When the two minutes is over, transfer the zucchini to a colander, and start running cold water over it. You need to get the temperature of the zucchini down quickly so that it stops cooking before it turns to mush. You can stop running the water over it when the zucchini is cool to the touch. Let the zucchini sit and drain in the colander while you prepare the other ingredients.

I used sun-dried tomatoes that were packed in a jar with some olive oil, garlic, and other spices. I definitely recommend using something similar if you can find it. The spices on the tomatoes worked well in the finished dish. My jar of tomatoes contained tomato halves, and I used three of the halves. If your tomatoes are cut into smaller pieces, just estimate. Chop the tomatoes into 1/4 inch pieces.

Mince 2 cloves of garlic as finely as you can.

I find it easiest to smash the garlic with the side of a chef's knife first.
Then just start chopping the garlic mush until it's almost a paste.

Add the zucchini, garlic, and tomatoes to a large bowl. Add 1 tsp dried basil and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar to the bowl and toss everything together. Add salt to taste. Serve cold.

  • The measurements on this recipe aren't super strict. You can play with the quantities to add more of what you like, and less of what you don't.
  • Let the zucchini drain well, or your dish will be waterlogged. I actually put them in my salad spinner because I was impatient about waiting for them to drain in the colander.
  • If you like olives, this recipe is a good chance to use them.
  • You'll probably want to add a generous pinch or two of salt, because most of the ingredients in this are either sweet or neutral in flavor.
  • If you can, let this recipe sit in the fridge for a few hours before you serve it. The flavor improves as everything meshes together.

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