I deeeeefinitely didn’t run in the direction of spiralized zucchini noodles in the early days of this trend, but it turns out that, prepared well, I really, really like them. Oh well. 🙂
At this time of year, my food personality gets a little frenetic, and I’m cool with that. With festive events and the abundance of tempting goodies that contribute to a well-lived life, it’s hard to bother with making sure nearly every meal is balanced. But I still like to strive for balance overall — albeit a slightly more relaxed interpretation, and in a bit of a longer arc. Sometimes this means spending the busy hours until dinner with just coffee and a green juice early in the day and maybe a smoothie and a couple of pieces of fruit in the afternoon. And sometimes it means the kind of lightened-up meals that I otherwise might giggle at a little bit, like these spiralized zucchini noodles lightly but deliciously dressed with lemon-caper butter and a mere sprinkle of grated cheese and parsley.
I really did NOT run toward spiralized zucchini noodles when I first (or second or twelfth) became aware of them. And truth be told, we had my favorite spaghetti for dinner last night and I’m a little disappointed there aren’t any leftovers. That said, when I finally did try zoodles, I was really surprised by how much I liked them. Prepared properly, and thought of as something different from spaghetti, they’re delicious and pleasing and without need for any kind of apology.
How to Cook Zucchini Noodles
You’ll have two main tasks when dealing with zucchini noodles. First, liquid management. I read about a great method of drying zucchini noodles from the website Gourmet Girl Cooks, and I use this method every time. About half an hour before you want to eat, spread the zoodles on a thick layer of paper towels, salt them lightly, and then cover with another thick layer of paper towels. Let them sit until you’re ready to toss the noodles into the pan. They’ll release a lot of moisture. Right before adding to the pan, roll up the whole bundle and squeeze a bit to make sure all the moisture gets absorbed into the paper towels. This step makes a huge difference in the quality of the final dish.
The second task is to season aggressively. Zucchini tastes good on its own, to be sure, but to make zoodles into a satisfying main dish, you’ll want to add lots of flavor. This recipe does exactly that.
Talk to you soon.
Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles) with Lemon Caper Butter
Whenever you need a light meal, whether between the holidays, in January reset mode, or over the summer when zucchini is abundant, this vibrant bowl of zucchini noodles is just the thing. It's naturally gluten-free, and if you want to make it vegan, omit the butter and cheese, consider doubling the olive oil, and make sure you use a nice, fruity, flavorful oil.
- 6 medium zucchini, spiralized
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup capers
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Grated parmesan or pecorino cheese to taste
- Arrange the zoodles on a thick layer of paper towels. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt. Cover with another thick layer of paper towels and press gently. Leave while you make the sauce, longer if possible (20 minutes or so is ideal).
- In a 12-inch frying pan, warm the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. When butter melts, add shallot, garlic and capers and cook, stirring from time to time, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
- When ready to serve, roll up the paper towels and give the zoodles a squeeze to remove as much moisture as possible. Add zoodles to frying pan and cook, tossing with tongs or a rubber spatula, for about a minute. They should retain a nice bite but not look raw. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice, parsley and some pepper.
- Divide among four bowls, sprinkle with cheese, and serve.