Zucchini “Noodle” and Tomato Salad

I hope the title has you intrigued! Yes, you can make ‘noodles’ from zucchini…with a spiralizer! I learned about this wonderful gadget from my friend Ami Mackey at Plant Based Adventures . A spiralizer is a gadget that creates continual ‘noodle’ shaped strips out of vegetables. There are several models on the market, some a little more elaborate than others. While I’m not big on owning a lot of gadgets (I like ‘uni-taskers’ as Alton Brown calls them), this one seemed appropriate, especially since it’s rather small. The brand I got is Basily, and it cost about $10 at Amazon.
I absolutely love this little gadget, mostly because I like playing with food, but also because it’s super easy to use. I usually make fresh noodle salads, but you can also steam the ‘noodles’ and put pasta sauce over them.
The dish I created is very simple, and takes less than 10 minutes to prepare (probably closer to 5 minutes since I chop veggies pretty quickly). It’s a light and refreshing dish that’s perfect on a warm summer night. But PLEASE don’t ruin this dish by adding oil…try enjoying the veggies in their natural state with just a little balsamic vinegar drizzled over it.

Zucchini Noodle Salad
Serves 1
prep time-5 minutes

Ingredients:

1 medium/small zucchini
1 medium tomato
1 garlic clove diced into smaller pieces (optional if you really don’t like raw garlic)
3-4 fresh basil leaves, julienned
balsamic vinegar (I use a 12 year aged balsamic)

Directions:
1. Use the spiralizer to make the zucchini noodles in a dish or shallow bowl.
2. Chop the tomato into bite size chunks, scatter over the zucchini noodles.
3. Sprinkle the garlic over the tomatoes.
4. Scatter the basil over the top of the tomatoes and garlic.
5. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the salad.

Easy Peasy!

Quick prep

Quick prep

Zucchini 'noodles'

Zucchini ‘noodles’

Fresh and easy salad

Fresh and easy salad

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Tomato and Olive Penne

I love pasta, but not as much as my husband does. He would eat it every day if he could! Since I started my plant strong journey, I’ve come to love whole wheat pasta.  Unfortunately, my husband does not like it very much. So when I decide to make a comforting pasta dish, I usually go for regular pasta.  Not that there is really anything wrong with regular pasta, it’s just that I’m trying to avoid the ‘white’ stuff (white bread, white rice, white sugar, white pasta), hence the reason why I like using whole wheat pasta.  Lately, I’ve been trying brown rice pasta and it seems to have a nice firm texture, but not quite as dense as whole wheat pasta.

This pasta dish has been a staple in my kitchen for many years.  My mom actually found it in one of those little recipe booklets you find in magazines…I think it was from Kraft…probably advertising parmesan cheese.  I’ve made adaptations to it over the years, by adding spice turkey sausage to it, when I didn’t want ground beef; but I’ve always loved it just by itself…nothing added.  Because this dish tends to be a little higher in sodium because of the olives, I don’t make it a lot; but when I do make it, we thoroughly enjoy it!

When I started cooking on a plant based diet, sautéing was something that would normally be a problem since I don’t use olive oil (it damages the lining of our blood vessels which in turn, affects how we heal from blood clots-Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn talks about this a LOT). I’ve learned that you can sauté in any kind of liquid you want-water, wine, beer, vegetable stock, fruit juice, whatever liquid you have available. I also thought not using cheese would take away the taste in this dish, but I’ve discovered nutritional yeast. It’s not the same as bakers yeast or brewers yeast as it’s made differently (it’s not really ‘yeast’). It can be purchased at health food stores, or Whole Foods, or even ordered on line.  It’s a vegan ‘cheese’ substitute. It basically dissolves into what ever liquid you put it in. On it’s own, it has a bit of a nutty taste, but in recipes, it adds a nice creamy texture to the dish.

Here’s the recipe and photos.  I usually serve it with a nice mixed greens/tomato/onion salad. Again, measurements are estimates since I quite often don’t measure a lot when I cook! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Tomato and Olive Penne

Prep time approximately 15-20 minutes

Cook Time-approximately 8-10 minutes

Serves 2

Ingredients:

8 oz cooked penne or rotini pasta

10-12 cocktail size tomatoes (more if you use cherry tomatoes), quartered

1/2 cup greek olives (in vinegar, not oil), sliced

3-5 cloves garlic, sliced

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp oregano

1 Tbsp tomato paste or tomato powder (I get mine at The Spice Shop)

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

liquid for sautéing the garlic (I usually use wine)

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Ingredients

Directions:

Heat liquid over medium-low heat until warmed, add garlic and sauté until fragrant and soft, about 1-2 minutes (be careful not to burn it…add more liquid if needed)..

sauteing garlic in white wine

Add the hot pepper flakes and toss with garlic.

red pepper flakes added

Add oregano and toss with garlic and pepper flakes to warm.

oregano added

Add tomatoes and tomato powder (or tomato paste) and stir gently.

tomatoes and tomato powder

Cook over medium heat until tomatoes start to break down and release their juices.  Sauce should have a little thickness from the tomato powder/paste.

thickened sauce

Add cooked pasta, olives, parsley and nutritional yeast.

pasta, olives, parsley, nutritional yeast

Stir gently and remove from heat.

finished

Serve with a garnish of fresh parsley!  Enjoy!

Tomato and Olive Penne