Zucchini Pappardelle with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil
Silky bites of zucchini pappardelle, tossed with a fragrant lemon, garlic and olive oil sauce. Topped with fresh basil, toasted pine nuts and roasted tomatoes. Requires just about 10 ingredients. No spiralizer required! Vegan & Gluten Free. <jump to recipe>
Do you do things that drive your partner crazy? Little quirks that inevitably buzz around their head like a fly on a hot summer day. That's a rhetorical question by the way…because of course you do. We all do. Just ask Anguel, he'll tell you all about my quirks. Actually, maybe don't. Although, either way, I can definitely guess what's smack dab at the top of the list.
When I see food, my eyes are almost always larger than my stomach. And I'm not just talking about at restaurants (I actually clean up pretty well there). It's especially bad when I'm buying groceries. At the farmers market everything looks so fresh and juicy…I usually just want to stuff everything into my bag and call it a day. Reality hits when I get back home – and Anguel promptly tries to get everything into the fridge. There are exasperated sighs as he tries to tetris his way into fitting the lettuce, kale and sprouts into our tiny crisper drawer. And when the sighs come out, I know it's time to make up for my recklessness by whipping up yummy avocado toast (the key to his heart). And the next week it repeats.
For two people, we sure do go through a lot of produce. But that's not to say I wasn’t intimidated about finding a use for the 3+ pounds of zucchini I bought last weekend. I was. Turns out, making noodles from the zucchini is an awesomely delicious way to go through zucchini like nobody's business. 3 pounds? No problem.
I, like almost everyone else, have been on the spiralizer bandwagon. It can be a very handy tool for sure. But the truth is it sits in our cupboard way too often and only comes out on random occasions…like once in a blue moon when I'm craving curly fries. I envy Ali's commitment to the art of spiralizing anything and everything. Needless to say, I wasn't motivated to break it out this time. For this recipe, I instead went with thinly peeled strips using a regular vegetable peeler. It's still a zoodle (zucchini + noodle), but more like pappardelle than spaghetti. In the end, you can still twirl it on your fork (yay!), but you don't need to fight a hunk of plastic to get there. Sounds like a win in my books, don't you?
For the sauce, I went with a light and summery combination of lemon and olive oil. The oil will infuse with garlic and chili flakes, needing only a couple handfuls of basil and roasted tomatoes to bring it over the edge. It's tempting to keep adding extras to simple dishes like this – so I won't stop you. But this simple version is the one we've turned back to most often. It's easy and delicious. And if you don’t count the salt and pepper, this recipe rings in at 10 ingredients!
I found a few techniques useful in treating the zucchini. First off, you’ll want to marinate the zucchini noodles in a bit of lemon and olive oil. It helps to soften the zucchini before even starting to cook. And since zucchini is made up of 90%+ water, it’s key to strain out the water it releases during cooking. A quick initial saute helps the zucchini sweat out some water (which you’ll strain), before adding the ingredients for the sauce. Then once the noodles are cooked, you’ll transfer them to a serving dish before seasoning them with the last bits of lemon juice, olive oil, zest, salt and pepper. This ensures that you get as much flavor on your plate (not down the drain). If it sounds complicated, it really isn't. I promise. Top with toasted pine nuts and serve either warm or room temperature (both are delish!).
ZUCCHINI PAPPARDELLE WITH ROASTED TOMATOES AND BASIL
SERVES 3-4 (VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE)
2 cups baby tomatoes (1 pint)
1 teaspoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed)*
3 lbs / 1.4 kg small zucchini**
3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons pine nuts
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
1/2 cup basil, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3/4 teaspoon salt
Black pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Ensure your tomatoes are clean and fully dry. Place tomatoes on a baking sheet, then drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Roast the tomatoes in the oven for ~20 minutes, or until they are soft and slightly blistered.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cut off the ends of your zucchini, and then use a vegetable peeler to peel zucchini into thin strips. Place noodles into the bowl as you go, and use your hands to toss noodles in the lemon and olive oil mixture. Continue with the remaining zucchini.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add pine nuts to toast. Stir regularly, until the edges of the pine nuts start to brown. This should take ~5 minutes. Once toasted, remove the nuts and set aside.
Re-heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the marinated zucchini noodles. Cook for ~5 minutes, until the zucchini softens and begins to release water. Remove from heat. Strain noodles in a colander. Allow them to sit in the colander while you prepare the sauce.
Return the skillet medium heat. Once hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, garlic and red chili flakes. Let the oil infuse for 1-2 minutes, stirring to ensure the garlic does not burn. Then, add the strained zucchini noodles back to the pan. Use tongs to toss the noodles in the sauce, and allow the noodles to cook for another ~5 minutes, or until tender.
Once cooked, remove from heat. Add in the chopped basil and toss to incorporate. Use the tongs to lift the noodles from the pot and into a serving bowl. Discard any remaining liquid in the pan. Add 1 remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Toss to mix well. Serve noodles topped with toasted pine nuts and roasted tomatoes. Noodles can be served hot or room temperature.
*I prefer to use an oil with a higher smoke point than olive oil for roasting the tomatoes. Grapeseed works well, or substitute with your oil of choice.
**Smaller zucchini aren’t as tough as larger ones. They make for a more silky noodle and are easier to peel into noodles with a regular vegetable peeler.