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
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 lbs small zucchini (ends trimmed, see note 1)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil (more for garnish)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Preheat: Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Roast tomatoes: Scatter tomatoes on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, toss to coat. Bake until tomatoes are soft and slightly blistered, about 20 minutes.
- Prep zucchini: In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the zucchini into long strips, then transfer to the bowl. Toss to coat.
- Toast pine nuts: Add pine nuts to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
- Sauté zucchini: Return skillet to stove over medium-high heat. Pour the zucchini (and any liquid from the bowl) into the pan. Sauté until tender (but not fully cooked), about 5 minutes (be careful not to overcook). Transfer to a colander and let drain.
- Cook sauce: Return skillet to stove over medium heat (no need to wipe clean). Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently until the garlic is fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Combine: Add zucchini to the pan, toss to coat. Cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Pour any excess liquid from the pan. Then, stir in basil, remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice, remaining 2 tablespoon olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Top with tomatoes and pine nuts.
- Zucchini: Smaller zucchini will be easier to peel into noodle-like strips. Choose zucchini that are less wide than the blade of your peeler.
- Serving suggestion: This is a yummy side dish (serves about 4). To bulk it up to a main, stir in a can of cannellini beans in the final step and increase portion size (serves about 2). Also delicious with grilled bread.