Lighten Up Pasta with Garden-Fresh Zucchini

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Pasta may be too heavy for a hot summer night, but you can lighten it up by substituting or swapping it out with vegetables.
Zucchini pasta is super easy to prepare and perfect for anyone who is gluten-intolerant, diabetic, low carbing it, a raw food lover, or those like me that are up to their ears in zucchini from the garden.  Zucchini pasta is nothing more than raw zucchini that has been cut to mimic traditional pasta: fettuccine, linguine, and yes even lasagna. 

Depending on your tool arsenal you may have several choices for cutting the zucchini. 

The spiralizer is the Cadillac of choices.  If anyone is willing to let me borrow one, give me a call! 

You already know I'm not keen on fancy tools. I like to keep it simple! In my kitchen, I have a couple of options. 

First, the knife. Slice thin strips from the zucchini then stack 2-3 layers deep and slice into strips.  This works well if you are looking for a fettuccine shape. 

Second, the vegetable peeler. It's a speed demon for shaving off long strips of zucchini that are perfect for a lasagna style noodle. 

Lastly, a julienne vegetable peeler.  These peelers can be found at most online kitchen stores or markets and will only set you back $10-$12.  They work just like a traditional peeler except that as you move the peeler it does double duty in slicing and shredding the zucchini into long matchsticks.
You have the cuts, now it's time to get cooking.  What do you do with the zucchini pasta noodles?
Swap out half a serving of traditional whole-wheat pasta with zucchini noodles.  The zucchini noodles should be about the same size as the traditional pasta noodles.  Add the zucchini noodles to the pasta noodles in the last minute of cooking.  Serve with light sauces like pesto, simple sliced grape tomatoes and basil with just a short pour of olive oil, or tossed in garlic, heart healthy chopped nuts and a finely shredded flavorful cheese like Asiago or Manchego.

Go 100% zucchini noodles.  Cook the zucchini for just one minute in boiling water and a pinch of salt then immediately drain and run cold water over the zucchini to stop the cooking.  

Mediterranean: Toss with sliced artichoke hearts (use canned ones packed in brine that you've drained and rinsed), herbs from the garden plus a dollop of goat cheese for a cool summer pasta salad. 

Asian: Miso paste is a perfect pairing with the zucchini pasta.  Combine three shredded zucchini with two teaspoons miso paste and one tablespoon warm water; toss and serve. 

Lasagna: Long flat strips are wonderful for a new take on layered pasta.  Sauté chopped shallots with cherry or grape tomatoes in a small amount of olive oil, then stir in grated Parmesan cheese.  Layer the filling between the flat strips of zucchini, fold into a parcel and mist with cooking spray. Return to the pan to heat the zucchini.  Sauté 1-2 minutes on each side, then transfer to a plate.  Add 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar to the pan, heat it until it sizzles, then pour over "noodles."
Raw:  Zucchini pasta is a perfect raw choice.  Select smaller zucchini that are more tender.  Cut into your desired shape, sprinkle with pinch of salt and let rest 20 minutes.  Rinse away the salt and toss in other raw favorites like avocado, tomatoes, and herbs.
As the garden supply of zucchini starts to dwindle don't fret, spaghetti squash will be ready any day and you can start making spaghetti squash pasta!
Do you ever swap pasta for veggies?

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SPARKNB 3/3/2021
Huh, zoodles! Had missed this article. Haven't tried with miso...maybe soon. I got a spiralizer for my bday. Have used for sweet potatoes too. Report
CATNAP6291 1/19/2021
thanks Report
CECELW 1/18/2021
looks pretty good. I love zucchini Report
CHERYLHURT 12/9/2020
Ours is fun! Report
OLDSKOOL556 11/12/2020
Thanks! For sharing 👍 love zucchini Report
DEE107 7/19/2020
thanks Report
FISHGUT3 6/16/2020
thanks Report
CHERYLHURT 5/13/2020
We use our spiralizer Report
GEORGE815 4/20/2020
Thanks Report
PATRICIAAK 3/20/2020
:) Report
Great Info! Thanks! Report
Looks Delious! Report
👍 Report
Great tips! Report
Good ideas Report
thanks Report
I use zucchini all the time as a pasta swap. My sister gave me an electric spiralizer that does 4 different types of cuts Report
Thanks for the information. Report
I used spiralized zucchini instead of spaghetti in our family fsvorite Spahetti Salad, great low carb alternative. Report
I have but sometimes it works and some times oh no will not do that again Report
The "INFAMOUS VEGGIE SWAP OUT" has been a family tradition for 4 generations. HOWEVER, when I was willed my Aunt's Spiralizer, after her grill closed, I went crazy. If it's hard at one end it's spaghetti at the other. Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
Thanks! Report
I use zucchini to replace hash browns, but the family is not pleased when I use zucchini to fake noodles...needs a lot more sauce and cheese to appease them. Report
Thanks for the options. Report
Some good options Report
This looks great. Report
great ideas for all that zucchini Report
Great article! Report
Great idea! Report
I never thought about this! Thanks! Report
Looks good Report
Haven't gotten the gadgets yet other than veggie peeler. My low carb hubby benefits from this. Report
I haven't done this yet, but it looks so good Report
I love zoodles & spaghetti squash. I haven't had real pasta in years & actually like the veggie noodles better now. You can eat a large amount & they are super low in calories. There is no carb crash or other carb side effects like low energy or bloat afterwards unlike with real pasta. I love making lasagna with zucchini. The first time I tried it I was amazed how great it tasted. Report
zucchini and yellow squash noodles look nice together. Report
Yes! I use zucchini for my noodles. Report
Yes, I use zucchini noodles and eggplant. I cut my veggies into long strips or long flat strips and use them for spaghetti or lasagna. We never miss the pasta! Report
I swap some out, but use some real noodles, because these taste sort of like string, otherwise........just a word to the wise. Life long, not sure if worth the bother. Just eat a smaller amount of thin noodles in the first place. Report
i just got a spiralizer so i will be trying ths Report
Okay, I'm sold and have to try this. Needing to get more veggies in. Report
got my noodle maker in the mail yesterday - so went looking for recipes to use my Fresh Zucchini Noodles and found one - Easy Zucchini Noodle Alfredo. Saute Zucchini Noodles, made from 2 Zucchini, 1 Pound, in 1 TBSP Olive Oil.The sauce was made with 1.5 ounces cream cheese and 1 Tablespoon sour cream and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese . When sauce was melty, I added the noodles back into the pan. Quite tasty . Although my hubby was looking for the beef..... Report
I use spaghetti squash for baked spag & zuch for veg lasagna
I use spaghetti squash for baked spag & zuch for veg lasagna
Ooh, what a great idea. Can't believe I didn't come up with it myself (blush) Report
Can't wait to try it! Report
I have the GUFU for making squash into all most pasta! It looks like a noodle and taste even better....I use green and yellow squash a little garlic and olive oil .Wam-Bam! Report