Zucchini noodles or “zoodles” are quickly gaining in popularity for various reasons. As an increasing number of people look to curb gluten or carbohydrate intake, zoodles have become a staple in a low-carbohydrate or gluten-free diet.
With zoodles, you don’t have to completely kick your ‘pasta’ cravings.
However, you want to ensure that you are cooking them properly to really get the most out of the dishes that call for zoodles.
We will also be going over a few delicious recipes that you can work into your meal planning process.
What Are Zoodles?
Simply because you have decided to avoid gluten or even get rid of carbohydrates completely doesn’t necessarily mean you have to give up your pasta cravings.
This is where zoodles come into play. Zoodles are zucchini noodles. They are essentially long strands of zucchini that have been spiraled into a pasta imitation .
While the best results are likely to come with a spiralizer that can easily turn your zucchini into noodles, you can also create zoodles manually by using a basic peeler.
How To Make Zoodles
1. Using a Basic Peeler
If you are going to be using a basic peeler to make your zoodles, you will want to remove the skin. While you could easily keep the skin on and use it, it is much tougher than the inside of the zucchini.
Therefore, to maintain better consistency, you should aim to remove the skin. If you are going to leave the skin on, you will want to be sure to wash it thoroughly prior to peeling. Keep peeling until you have reached around the center of the zucchini.
You should be able to use most of the zucchini. By this time, you should have a big pile of thin zoodles that you can use to prepare your imitation pasta dish!
2. Using a Spiralizer
Making zoodles with a spiralizer is easily the best and most convenient way to do so . These products make the entire process from start to finish very easy and convenient which takes away a lot of the hassle that would normally come with manually spiralizing your zucchini noodles.
For making them with a spiralizer, simply follow the instructions of your specific spiralizer for the best results. You want to get one that is easy to assemble and clean instead of one that is difficult because it can be very difficult to clean some of them.
The best part about a spiralizer is the ability to do this with a variety of different kinds of vegetables which means that you can get a lot of use out of it.
You can find these products available as an attachment such as the KitchenAid attachment compatible with the KitchenAid Mixer or even by getting a handheld one that you push the zucchini through.
There are many other types available that you can choose from.
Now that you have a pile of zoodles cut out, it is time to get cooking! ‘Cooking’ zoodles is perhaps the most difficult part because you don’t want to cook them at all.
In fact, you merely want to heat them up. Because zoodles are made up of almost entirely water, you don’t want to heat them too much. If you heat zoodles up too high, you will end up with soggy zoodles. No one wants soggy zoodles.
Instead, you want to use other methods including sauteing or even steaming them.
1. How to Saute Zoodles
If you are looking to prepare your dish on your stovetop, one of the best ways to successfully do so is by sauteing your zoodles.
This will allow you to really be able to have complete control over the heating of the zoodles to ensure that your zoodles remain ‘al dente.’
Sauteing is a great way to ensure that your zoodles are heated up perfectly and that they don’t lose their ‘crisp’ texture.
2. Eating Zoodles Raw
Another good option would be to avoid ‘cooking’ them at all. Believe it or not, but zoodles can taste absolutely incredible without heating them up at all.
Keeping your zoodles raw is one of the best ways to enjoy them because it allows the noodles to retain their natural texture and water content.
Therefore, it keeps the noodles nice and crisp and it can make for a very refreshing meal when paired with various kinds of ingredients including pesto.
Likewise, if you are going to be adding pasta sauce or meatballs to your dish, that sauce is going to be hot enough as it is.
Therefore, by pairing it with your zoodles, you will be able to warm the noodles without overdoing it.
3. Boiling Zucchini Noodles
This is perhaps one of the most popular methods for preparing zucchini noodles likely due to the familiarity that it comes with.
After all, it is the same way you prep pasta. Not only is it simple, but it’s also effective. You simply throw in your zoodles and boil them for a minute or so.
Once your noodles have cooked, you simply drain and serve.
Keys To Getting The Best Results:
1. Invest in a Spiralizer
If you are going to be preparing zoodles regularly, you will want to invest in a high-quality spiralizer that not only delivers excellently cut zoodles, but you also want one that is very easy to clean. This will keep prepping zoodles convenient and easy.
If your spiralizer is difficult to clean or if you are doing the process manually through peeling, it is likely something that is not going to be worth the hassle.
2. Prep Them in Advance
Because they generally last around 3 days when properly stored, you can make even more ahead of time. This will ensure that you are able to throw together quick meals.
3. Stick To Larger Zucchinis.
Not only are you going to be able to get more zoodles out of them, but they will be much easier to handle when you are making noodles out of them.
Our Top 3 Zoodle Dinner Recipes
1. Parmesan Pasta
For this recipe, you will want to have all the fresh ingredients.
- 2 Large Zucchinis
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup of chopped basil leaves.
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 diced tomato
- 1/2 cup of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
When you are prepping this dish, you will want to begin by prepping the noodles. You want to spiralize the noodles around the same length as a traditional noodle.
Then, you simply toss all of the zoodles into a large skillet heating anywhere from low to medium settings and add the olive oil and red pepper.
Once the noodles are almost heated up at around the 5-minute point, you will want to toss in the tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and the basil. Let the dish continue to heat for around 1 minute and you are finished.
2. Garlic Noodles
This is a real basic meal that you can create in a flash.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
- 2 garlic cloves (chopped)
- Salt and pepper to taste
When you are prepping this meal, you will want to begin by throwing your zoodles into a skillet with the heat on low to medium settings.
Then, you will simply add the olive oil to the skillet along with the garlic and allow it to simmer.
From there, you will want to add the zucchini into the pan and allow it to heat up for around 5 minutes or until you have achieved your desired level of firmness.
3. Butter and Garlic Zoodles
Another basic zoodle dish that you will absolutely love involves butter, garlic, and red pepper.
- 2 large zucchinis
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
- 1/4 of a lemon (squeezed)
- 2 tablespoons butter
When you are preparing this dish, you will want to toss everything into a large skillet. Simply melt the butter over low to medium heat settings and add the garlic, lemon juice, and red pepper.
From there, you should add the zucchini noodles and cook until the zoodles reach your desired level of firmness.
You can add salt and pepper to taste if needed.
Overall, there are so many different reasons you might be looking to enjoy zoodles regularly in your diet.
The fact is, zucchinis are a great way to continue to get your favorite pasta dishes in your life without having to deal with the high carbohydrate guilt and consequences.
Because these noodles can taste just as good (if not better) than traditional noodles, they can be a fantastic substitute even for those that aren’t on a gluten-free or low carbohydrate diet.
Because a single zucchini contains just 3.11 net carbohydrates according to the USDA, you will be able to get in a healthy meal without packing on the carbs .
However, don’t make the mistake of preparing them improperly or you might be left with a soggy mess. By prepping them the right way and not overcooking them, you should be able to enjoy an excellent tasting pasta alternative.
- Jeff Fromm, Noodles to Zoodles, Forbes. Found at https://www.forbes.com/sites/jefffromm/2019/03/06/noodles-to-zoodles/
- Nicole Doster, Peggy Woodward, How to Make Zucchini Noodles (With or Without a Spiralizer), Taste of Home. Found at https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/how-to-make-zucchini-noodles-with-or-without-a-spiralizer/
- Squash, summer, zucchini, includes skin, raw, Food Data Central. Found at https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169291/nutrients