It feels a bit odd posting a recipe that features a quintessential summer vegetable when I woke up to half an inch of snow covering the ground earlier this week.
Oh, and icicles hanging from my living room window. It’s mid-April, just to be clear. Crazy talk, I tell ya.
I’ve decided that instead of bemoaning the unpredictable weather and my inability to figure out which season I should dressing for, I’m just going to transition my diet to dishes that are suitable for warmer weather. Who’s with me? Salads, ice cream, fresh veggies, GO.
So, I’ve made zucchini noodles before. They really are pretty simple to make (don’t let people fool you into thinking you need a spiralizer or even a mandoline – I promise you don’t need anything more than a vegetable peeler and a knife to make these), and I think I’ve finally honed my recipe into a dish that I’m quite proud of.
I use a vegetable peeler to create long ribbons of zucchini, which I then slice thinly to create a fettucini-type shape. The “noodles” are then quickly sauteed with garlic until warmed through and served with a creamy, simple avocado sauce. I topped my noodles with leftover roast chicken for a filling dinner.
Garlic Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Avocado
1 large zucchini
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 T olive oil
1/2 large avocado
1-2 T milk or cream
1/4 t garlic powder
pinch of salt
1. Using a vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini lengthwise into long ribbons. Then stack ribbons and slice again lengthwise to create “noodles” of whatever thickness you prefer (mine were about the width of fettucini).
2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes until fragrant and just beginning to turn golden brown.
3. Add zucchini to the skillet, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and saute for an additional 5-6 minutes, until just tender.
4. Meanwhile, place avocado and 1 T milk or cream in a bowl and mash/stir until completely smooth (you could use a food processor for this, but I was too lazy to drag mine out), adding the additional milk if it seems too thick. Season with garlic powder and salt and stir to incorporate.
5. Either toss the zucchini noodles with the avocado sauce or plate then spoon the sauce on top. Serve immediately.
See? I promised you don’t need any fancy equipment. Shoot, my vegetable peeler isn’t even fancy.
No skill required here. Just carefully hold the zucchini, and make long ribbons all the way around. Stop once you get to the seed-y core. It’s fine to get some seeds in there, but once you’re at the point where the entire ribbon is full of seeds, the texture of your noodles will get a little soggy.
Once you’ve got all of your ribbons, just stack a few at a time and slice lengthwise to create thinner “noodles”. Of course, if you like a thicker shape feel free to leave these as they are.
Then just mince up some garlic, throw it in a skillet until fragrant, toss your noodles in and whammy: dinner’s done.
These noodles are good on their own, but tossing them with a little creamy sauce and some roast chicken rounds them out into a full meal.
The added benefit of that sauce is that it matches the zucchini, which means that if you have picky eaters in your house and they like avocado, I bet you can smother the noodles in the sauce and no one will be the wiser.
Hey, hey you guys.
It’s spring! Have you noticed??
I think my standards have been lowered so substantially by the brutal winter we went through that 50 degrees and NOT snowing makes me feel like I should go outside and prance around in a skirt and sandals.
It’s ok. Lowered expectations just mean that I’ll be THAT much happier come summertime, right?
Regardless, I’m taking the change in weather as an opportunity to spring clean my diet a bit. In other words: more veggies, more lean protein, less processed food. Simple, right? Oh, and add to that the fact that I gave up fried food for Lent and I’m really craving some crappy bar food right about now…I mean, I feel great! Yeah!
Anyway, today I’m bringing you another fake-out makeover dish that includes more veggies, less nutrient-lacking starch.
Remember that time that I posted a recipe for mashed cauliflower? This is sort of like that, in that it’s NOT rice. I’m not pretending that it is going to taste the same. The texture isn’t as chewy, naturally. But dare I say that the flavor is actually better?
Here the cauliflower is seasoned with plenty of spices, onion and garlic, and really absorbs the flavor of the cooking liquid. It’s excellent on its own as a side dish, but you could easily use it in most dishes that call for plain white or brown rice.
Basic Cauliflower “Rice”
1 small head cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 T coconut oil (or olive oil)
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t Old Bay seasoning
1/4 t garlic powder
1/4 t dried parsley
1/4-1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
1. Using the shredding attachment on a food processor, shred cauliflower florets. If you don’t have a shredding attachment, you can just place the cauliflower directly into the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. If you don’t have a food processor, you can shred the cauliflower on a box grater.
2. In a medium-large saucepan, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat until melted. Add onion, and saute until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add garlic, saute for 1 more minute.
3. Add shredded cauliflower to the saucepan and stir to mix well. Add spices (the above are just suggestions – use what you like!) and stir again.
4. Add 1/4 cup broth to the saucepan, lower heat to medium low, and cover. Allow to cook for about 7-8 minutes. At that time, check to see if all of the broth has cooked off. If so, add remaining broth and cover. Cook until tender, about 5 additional minutes.
I won’t lie to you: chopping cauliflower is messy. I don’t care how slowly you chop it, how much counter space you have, or how sharp your knife is. You will end up with tiny pieces of cauliflower all over your floor. There’s no way around it, friends. May I suggest investing in a Dustbuster?
I’m pretty sure my food processor holds 9 cups, and this small/medium head of cauliflower nearly filled the thing.
Added benefit of replacing your starches with veggies? MORE FOOD.
I use a lot of coconut oil these days. I appreciate the higher smoke point, and I like the flavor. If you don’t dig it (or can’t find it), feel free to use whatever healthy-ish oil you’ve got. Olive and grapeseed oils would both work well.
By the way, does anyone out there use coconut oil as a moisturizer/hair mask? I tried it once and just felt…oily. And coconut-y. And not in the Bain de Soleil way, either.
It really does look like rice, doesn’t it? I kind of get a kick out of that. I am by no means the first person to come up with this idea/recipe (this is just how I personally make it), but whoever did is a smart cookie.
Oooh, cookies…those sound good right about now…
No, Megan. FOCUS.
If you’re vegetarian, feel free to use vegetable broth instead of chicken. (And if you’re newly gluten free, please check the label on your brand of broth – they’re not all GF!) As I said, the cauliflower really absorbs the flavor of the cooking liquid, so just make sure to use a flavorful brand.
I ate this simply as a side to some homemade turkey sausage patties (recipe from Martha Stewart, subbing turkey for pork) and sweet potato. I’m also thinking the leftovers would be great incorporated into some homemade fried rice.
Really, it’s cliché, but the possibilities are endless.
Enjoy, and happy spring, everyone!
A mighty lofty claim to make, I know.
I should just say, “My Favorite Sweet Potato Fries” but that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive, does it?
This has basically become my go-to method for preparing sweet potatoes. Sure, it takes a little longer than throwing one in the microwave, but the hands on time is actually quite minimal.
And no, to answer your question, this doesn’t really qualify as a “recipe”. I mean, if I were the Food Network and I posted this as a recipe, I’m aware that I’d be opening myself up to a slew of snarky reviews. (Remember late night bacon? And frozen grapes?)
I just hope you try making your sweet potatoes with coconut oil like I do. Even if you’re not a big coconut fan (I wasn’t for YEARS, I tell you), you’ll still like these. The coconut flavor really isn’t very noticeable, but the oil lends a nice complementary sweetness to the ‘tatoes.
Coconut Baked Sweet Potato Fries
2 large sweet potatoes (or yams)
1 T coconut oil
kosher salt+black pepper, to taste
1. Peel sweet potatoes if desired (I generally don’t) and cut into matchsticks about 1/4’1/2″ thick.
2. Turn the oven on to heat to 400°.
3. Place the sweet potatoes on a sheet pan with the coconut oil and immediately into the oven.
4. Allow the pan to begin to heat up, which will melt the coconut oil. Once it’s completely melted (about 2 minutes), remove from oven and toss the fries until completely coated.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste and make sure fries are in a single layer on the sheet pan. Place back in oven.
6. After about 20 minutes, carefully toss the fries and rotate the pan back to front to evenly cook.
7. Bake an additional 20-25 minutes until golden brown and tender in the center.
Like I said, this isn’t a complicated recipe. In fact, it’s more of a method than anything.
It’s just that the sweet potato + coconut combo is just so darn good that I felt compelled to share it with you all.
And yeah, in case it’s not perfectly evident from the photos in this post, I will serve these sweet potato fries with just about anything.
They’re THAT good.
(In other news, I made mashed sweet potatoes with a pat of coconut oil last night and oh man YES. Try that, too.)