Zoodles with Basil Caper Sauce
This probably isn’t the first time you’ve come across ‘noodles’ made out of zucchini strips. The idea isn’t new. If you don't eat wheat, then you may have tried making this simple gluten-free 'pasta' before. There are even commercial devices you can buy to make zucchini into spaghetti quickly and easily.
Of course, I’ve never seen anything like that available for sale here in Argentina, and I’m not about to take up valuable suitcase space with a specialty kitchen tool that only does one thing. Beside that, you don’t need a special tool to make yummy gluten-free zucchini noodles- and I actually prefer them a bit thicker and hand-cut for added texture and more of the bite of ‘al dente’ pasta.
The struggle for me was finding the right sauce. It couldn’t be too heavy, and there needed to be a good punch of flavor to go with the mild zucchini. One night I hit upon the following combination and it stuck. It’s light, flavorful... and healthy, of course. In fact this recipe is totally vegan, gluten-free, and grain-free.
If you don’t have fresh basil on hand you can substitute fresh Italian parsley. It’s not quite as wonderful, but it does work well as a substitute when basil season is over here in Argentina.
I usually serve this over rice or gluten-free pasta to make it more filling, and I put it on top of real pasta for my husband. You can also eat it straight up... just plan to eat more!
Lastly, if you’ve got a salad spinner, it makes preparing the zucchini SO much simpler. See below for details...
PS. My mom came up with the great idea of calling these zoodles! :)
Recipe for Zucchini Noodles with Basil Caper Sauce
The following makes enough for two. Feel free to double the recipe. (I often do.) There’s no harm in having extra as they make great leftovers, even straight out of the fridge. Note that doubling it is the max I have found I can cook at one time and have turn out well. Any more zucchini and it doesn't cook evenly (or fit in my salad spinner).
4 medium zucchinis (approximately the length of a woman’s hand)
1/2 teaspoon salt (plus more for the zucchini prep)
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary- crumbled
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup capers- drained
1/2 of a small can tomato paste (about 1/4 cup)
1 large bunch basil- very finely chopped
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Wash the zucchini and cut into thin strips: Cut off the ends, stand one zucchini on end and slice the length of the zucchini into strips. Then stack 4 or 5 of these wide strips and cut into matchsticks. You can keep the ‘noodles’ the full length of the zucchini or cut in half. I usually halve them because I find they are easier to stir and handle in the pan.
As you go, cutting the zucchinis, place the completed ’noodles' in a salad spinner with a light layer of salt after every zucchini or so. Let sit 15-20 minutes, or longer. After at least 10 minutes, you can start to spin off the excess water. Repeat 3-5 times over at least an additional 10 minute period. This will vary depending on your zucchini. I’m giving you the fast version, but you could draw it out over an hour, say, casually spinning when you remembered to.
(Alternatively, you could use a colander and gently shake and toss instead. You might also need to press the zucchini strips with paper towels to get out the excess moisture.)
When the zucchini is ready to go, heat your skillet (or soup pot if you are doubling the recipe) with the salt, rosemary, pepper, chili powder, and olive oil. When they start to sizzle, add the capers. (I rinse capers in my hand under the tap and then squeeze them in my fist to get out excess fluid.)
Let cook a minute or two and then add the zucchini strips. Stir regularly and well for even cooking.
Meanwhile, wash, spin and chop the basil leaves very finely.
After cooking the zucchini about five minutes, add the tomato paste and toss well to combine. Then add the chopped basil.
Let cook just a couple of minutes more, only until the bottom of the pan starts to get juicy. You want the zucchini noodles to retain a bit of bite. Think ‘al dente’. They are much tastier if not cooked to mush.
Remove from the heat and add the fresh lemon juice. Taste and add salt, pepper, and/or olive oil as desired.
Serve over rice, pasta (regular or gluten free), or straight up as a bowl of delicious ‘Zoodles'.
Ask me anything or comment on this post here.