26 August 2016

Trying the Trends: Zoodles!

Zoodles ("noodles" made from raw zucchini) are all over the internet this summer, because a)cheap spiralizers abound in the stores these days b)if you have even one zucchini plant in your garden, you have too much zucchini and c) (presumably) global warming. I was gifted a spiralizer back in the winter and all of these recipes on Pinterest were finally starting to get to me, so here's what I discovered:

1. I like my noodles raw. Some recipes will have you lightly cook them, but you know what? It's not pasta.  Don't pretend it is, or you'll be disappointed. Instead, enjoy the tender-yet-crunchy texture that is raw, spiralized zucchini as a unique salad item.

2. I dress them lightly. For the same reason I don't cook them, I don't want to drown my zoodles in marinara sauce or other disguise. It just makes me wish I was eating pasta.  But again, as a cold salad, these are delicious with a salad dressing of some kind (ideas below).

3. Spiralized zucchini gives off a ton of water.  If you have ever shredded zucchini to make Midwestern-style zucchini bread or muffins, you already know this.  But I was surprised that the recipes I saw didn't mention it.  No matter what you do, they're going to get more watery as you eat them, so it's important to dress and eat them right away (pretty much).  But you can keep it under some control by spiralizing them into a colander, stirring them up with a pinch of salt, and then letting them drain for 10 minutes or so. Or you can just make your dressing thick and super strong to accommodate the extra water as you eat.

4 medium-to-large zucchini should be able to make four dinner salads with extras listed below. I have settled on three simple preparations I really like for dinner when it's hot:

"GREEK": toss with fresh dill, kalamata olives, walnuts, and roasted red pepper, Lemon-Garlic Dressing. Crumbled feta on top.

"ASIAN": toss with bean sprouts, chopped fresh cilantro and peanuts, and matchstick carrots, Ginger-Miso Dressing

"ITALIAN": toss with chopped fresh basil, tomato, pine nuts, and capers, Balsamic Viniagrette. Crumbled goat cheese on top.

Lemon-Garlic Dressing
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 2 lemons
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste

Ginger-Miso Dressing
1 tablespoon white or yellow miso
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 small garlic clove, minced
Pinch of cayenne
1 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoons peanut oil or grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons plain low-fat yogurt

Balsamic Vinagrette
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons grainy mustard (optional)
1 chopped garlic clove
6 tablespoons olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste