Zucchini (or courgettes) are a type of summer squash that are relatively cheap and easy to find in the warmer season. Not only are they healthy and nutritional with good amounts of folate, potassium and provitamin A, they also make for a great low-carbohydrate substitute for pasta or noodles.
Zucchini can be eaten whole – skin, seeds and all. Even the flowers and leaves find themselves in many delectable dishes all over the world. In Italy, for example, zucchini flowers are often seen at restaurants where they are served stuffed with ricotta, battered and deep fried. This super-versatile vegetable can be cooked in all manners imaginable – sautéed, fried, steamed, grilled, boiled, stuffed, even mixed into cakes and breads.
Now add to that list another way to enjoy zucchini: zucchini noodles.
You’ve seen it on wellness blogs, thanks to low-carb and paleo diet enthusiasts. Maybe you already own a spiralizer? Well, in the warmer months, with zucchini in abundance, it’s time to dust that off and get it working for you. Find out how to cook zucchini noodles with all our helpful tips.
Top tips on how to cook zucchini noodles
There are a few things that you need to take into consideration when cooking zucchini noodles, or zucchini pasta. Zucchini has a high water content – over 95% – which is the main factor that will affect your final result. To avoid a mushy, zucchini soup, here are a few tips:
Don’t peel your zucchini: spiralize the zucchini with the skin and all. This helps some of the zoodles to better keep their shape.
Spiralize the zucchini from fresh: there’s no need to cook the zucchini prior.
If you don’t have a spiraliser: other ways to create fresh zucchini noodles is by cutting the zucchini into thin strips manually with a sharp knife, or you can use a julienne peeler or vegetable peeler. The latter two methods will give you wider zucchini noodles – like tagliatelle pasta.
If cooking zucchini noodles on the stove, allow 30 minutes to salt and drain the liquid from the zucchini strips prior to cooking.
More: All the vegetables you can spiralise
How to cook zucchini noodles on the stove
Cooking zoodles on the stove is easy. However, it does require one extra step before you get started to make sure they don’t turn into mush in the pan.
Spiralize the zucchini using your preferred method, and place in a large bowl. Sprinkle the zucchini noodles with salt and toss to coat evenly. Place in a colander over the bowl or the sink and let sit for 30 minutes. The salt will draw some of the water out of the zucchini. Pat gently with paper towels to remove excess liquid.
When ready to cook, heat a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the drained zucchini noodles and stir fry for 3-5 minutes or until al dente.
How to cook zucchini noodles in the oven
You can roast or bake zucchini noodles in the oven just as you would any other vegetable. First, preheat the oven to 350 F/ 180 C. Arrange the spiralised zucchini on a large baking sheet. Spread them out evenly with plenty of space in between to allow the air to pass through them – overcrowding will end up in steamed and soggy noodles.
Allow to bake for about 15 minutes or until al dente.
Zucchini noodle recipes
For all these recipes, you can choose to cook the zucchini noodles either on the stove or in the oven. Choose what works for you based on how much time you have and the cooking method that you feel more comfortable with.
Don’t limit yourself when it comes to recipes. As an alternative for rice noodles or spaghetti noodles, you can easily substitute zucchini noodles in many recipes that you are already familiar with. The key is to stick to light, fresh sauces that better compliment the delicate taste and texture of zoodles, as opposed to other noodles.
Here are some zucchini noodle recipes to get you going:
Zucchini noodles with tomatoes, sesame and lime
Try this recipe for creamy yet light spaghetti zucchini with fresh avocado, tomatoes, sesame and dill. A drizzling of lime adds just enough zest to makes the flavors sing.
Zucchini noodles with meatballs recipe
Love spaghetti and meatballs but following a paleo diet? Try this recipe for zucchini noodles and meatballs and stay on track.
Love zucchini? Try also these vegetarian zucchini recipes:
Five vegetarian ways to prepare zucchini