This time of year you do one of three things: grow zucchini, receive zucchini from a friend who grows it or you purchase zucchini from farmers markets or your local CSA. Okay, maybe that's four things but you you get the point. You've got zucchini!
I'm a fan of zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, zucchini cookies, zucchini egg bakes and more. But one of my most favorite ways to enjoy the plethora of this summer squash is to pull out my julienne vegetable peeler and make fresh zucchini noodles. I've been doing it for years and each time I am always amazed at how this simple preparation transforms this vegetable.
There's no doubt that zucchini noodle recipes showcase zucchini. We're not masking zucchini with sugar, or hiding it in bread, we're featuring it, baby! You can see just what you're eating and it's rather fun. Plus it's a fake-out. You think you're eating pasta but in a super-light summer fashion. I love it.
Zucchini noodles are great with any type of pasta sauce. This time around I decided to play around with my friend Becky's (great name) Roasted Red Pepper Sauce with Cashews. I make this recipe so often and recommend it to all my friends. I'd been eying a jar of sun-dried tomatoes (packed in oil) in my pantry and thought I could easily swap them for the roasted red peppers in the recipe. With some minor seasoning adjustments I discovered a great sauce for zucchini noodles.
I use the word sauce lightly. Sun-dried tomatoes don't have quite the water content as roasted red peppers so this concoction comes out more like a paste or a pesto. And because I was blown away by the flavor, I decided not to add any additional oil, broth or water to thin it out. Turns out the the water from the flash-boiled zucchini noodles and a little stirring turn it into a perfect sauce.
I've made this recipe two ways: cooked zucchini noodles and raw zucchini noodles. Both are fantastic. Just go with whatever mood you're in. The raw noodles are pictured above and below this very sentence.
Hot or cold--each variation still features the nutty, sweet sauce with a bit of a tang and hint of spice from the red pepper flakes and freshly cracked black pepper. Eat your heart out, folks...and bring on more zucchini.
Zucchini Noodles with Sun-Dried Tomato & Cashew Pesto Sauce
sauce adapted from The Vintage Mixer
Makes 2 main servings or 4 side-dish servings.
2 large zucchini squash
6 oz. jar of sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (drained)
1/2 c. raw, unsalted cashews
1/4 tsp. Real Salt
1/8 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 TB. extra virgin olive oil (the best you can find)
1 TB. lemon juice
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make sure to salt the water. In a high-speed blender or food processor combine all ingredient except for zucchini squash. Pulse until smooth and paste-like. Though the paste is thick, the cashew nuts should be completely combined and part of the deep red pesto mixture. Using a julienne peeler make thin spaghetti-like noodles by going up and down each zucchini side. When you see the zucchini seeds move to the next spot of the zucchini. You do not want to use the seeds.
Place zucchini noodles in a medium-sized bowl and repeat with other zucchini. If water is not up to a boil, and may take a while longer, cover zucchini noodles with cold water while waiting. When water is boiling add zucchini and immerse for 30 seconds. Remove zucchini noodles with spider or slotted spoon into serving bowl. Place noodles in serving bowl and add sun-dried tomato and cashew sauce. The best way to combine the two is by lightly stirring with a large spoon and making concentric circles. The heat of the zucchini noodles and their excess water will help the sauce thin out and coat noodles evenly.
Note: This recipe is also wonderful with uncooked, raw zucchini noodles. Simply salt the noodles before adding pesto sauce. It will be a bit harder to combine as this pesto sauce is more like a paste, but keep stirring or even use a serving fork to stir and distribute pesto more efficiently.
Double Note: This can also be used as a spread for sandwiches or as a dip for vegetables.
Other zucchini recipes you may like:
Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Sweet Corn and Avocado on Two Peas and Their Pod
Zucchini Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce on The Vintage Mixer
Zucchini Carpaccio with Lemon, Herbs and Goat Cheese on Kalyn's Kitchen