It’s time for the perennial questions:
- What can I possibly do with zucchini and summer squash besides make bread or add brown sugar and butter?
- Is there anything good I can absolutely do to use produce that doesn’t get picked before it’s gigantic?
If you garden, frequent farmer’s markets or have friends who bequeath squash to you and you can’t say “no,” there’s a technique that can help you think that zucchini and squash – the bigger the better – are really good things.
Turn veggies into ‘noodles’
Called spiralizing, this technique calls for using a clever kitchen tool that turns veggies into “noodles.” These veggie noodles replace pasta so you cut calories and carbs while boosting nutrition, fiber and all the good things veggies do.
The spiralizing technique has captured the food world’s attention, though the technique has been around for some time, said Chrisanne Urban, a Marshfield Clinic Health System dietitian, and you’re probably seeing spiralized dishes at restaurants and garnishes spiralized from carrot or radish.
The spiralizer changes a healthy, low-calorie, low-carb vegetable into a giant bowl of veggie pasta. Urban advises that once spiralized, you choose your favorite sauce, add a sprinkle of cheese and/or add protein and voila, there’s dinner.
“Praise the person who came up with this idea!” Urban said. “I hope they’re rich! The veggie slicer or spiralizer has been around but gained popularity over the years because we’ve always had zucchini in the garden that’s gotten too big. Now we want them, those big zucchini, squash, carrots and parsnips, when we didn’t before.”
Check out your supermarket
If you want to make a veggie noodle dish even more convenient, Urban said, you can find spiralized noodles in your local grocery store’s frozen food section, fresh in a container and ready to go.
Urban’s got some fun tips for you to consider when you start seeing zucchini and squash getting big and ready for the spiralizer:
- Experiment – thick vs. thin is a good place to start. Check with your recipe.
- Colors – the more colorful the veggie the more nutrients, like beets or sweet potatoes. If you spiralize colorful produce, it may stain the cutting board or spiralizer. Wash them right away.
- Size – you want to look for the larger ones. So “no” to the broccoli crown and embrace the stalk.
- Make ahead – prep at the beginning of the week, store in a container and use the veggie noodles during the week.
- Calories – usually a cup of these noodles is about 20 calories compared to pasta at about 200 calories. If you use butternut squash you’ll have more carbs so calories will be somewhat higher since it’s a starchy veggie.
- Cooking methods – they can vary depending on what veggie you choose.
- It can be this simple – just boil for several minutes, drain, add olive oil and enjoy.
And, check out this recipe the next time you want to offer a lovely summer dish.
Yellow Squash Pasta with Caramelized Lemon
Prep time: active, 20 minutes; total time, 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 4 ¾-cup servings
- 1 1/2 pounds yellow squash (about 3 large squash)
- 3 medium lemons, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped celery leaves
- 3/4 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Trim squash ends and halve squash crosswise. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out inner seeds from each squash, removing as little flesh as possible. Cut squash into large noodles using a spiralizer. Place squash noodles between 2 layers of paper towels. Let stand at room temperature until dry, about 3 hours.
Transfer noodles to a medium bowl. Grate rind from 1 lemon to equal 1/2 teaspoon. Cut same lemon in half; squeeze juice to equal 1 tablespoon. Set aside rind and juice. Trim tops and bottoms of remaining 2 lemons and slice into half-moons.
Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add lemon slices; sprinkle evenly with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle sugar over lemons. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lemons are browned on the edges and caramelized, 4-5 minutes.
Add caramelized lemon slices to squash noodles. Add celery leaves, cheese, lemon rind, lemon juice, pepper and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt; toss gently to combine. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Serve immediately.
Each serving contains 97 calories; 7.9g fat; 2.1g satfat; 4.1g monofat; 0.6g polyfat; 2g protein; 6g carbohydrate; 2g fiber; 5 mg cholesterol; 0.0 mg iron; 230 mg sodium; 67 mg calcium; 1g sugars
Source: CookingLightClick to print this recipe