Today, with so many fantastic modern gadgets to populate your kitchen with, you have so many new options and opportunities to create fun, exciting, and tasty dishes that you may have never tried before! Not only that, but these new tools, foods and recipes are making it easier and easier for people with dietary restrictions to make small changes to traditional dishes that they can’t normally have, and with these small changes, suddenly they can have a nearly identical dish with just as much flavor and character as the original! These small alterations can be everything from the type of flour you use, the methods you use to cook your dishes, or even replacing foods entirely for a similarly-prepared and similar-tasting alternative. One such substitute is Zucchini Pasta!
Zucchini Pasta has been gaining popularity in recent years, as dietary trends have seen more and more people trying to live a gluten free or low-gluten lifestyle. Regardless of if that is due to personal choice, sensitivity, or outright incapability to have gluten, as we see in people who have Celiac Disease, it is no secret that more low-gluten or gluten free options are becoming more available to us in our daily lives, you only need to look on a shelf at your local grocery store to realize that. So, in the spirit of helping those people seeking to live life with a little less gluten, or even those of you who are just looking for fun, new ways to spice up your daily meals and turn them into something you’re not used to, we’re going to be helping you learn all you need to know about one certain, delicious alternative to a very traditional dish: Zucchini Pasta. Not only just the dish itself, which is delicious and full of nutrition, but also the tools used to make Zucchini noodles, and also just what the best tools are to make this pasta in general. Then, we’re going to take a look at some ideas for making your own sauces to go along with it!
What Is Zucchini Pasta?
Before we look at the tools needed to make it, we need to look at exactly what the thing we’re trying to make is, right? After all, no carpenter picks up a hammer before looking at the plans for the house he wants to build. So, it’s important for us to know the ways Zucchini pasta is similar to traditional pastas, but also how it’s different. We’ll also look at how to cook these noodles well, what kinds of sauces would pair well with the dish, and what are some good, gluten free side dishes you could serve with it to really make your pasta dish into a proper meal. And, if you’re worried about how this could be received by the people you’re serving it too, don’t worry at all! Zucchini noodles take on a very soft green color when they’re cooked, and the skin of the Zucchini that you can see along some strands adds a beautiful color contrast to the dish that you don’t see often.
In addition, Zucchini pasta has an amazing texture, which is very satisfying not only on your fork, but in your mouth! It’s packed full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients, unlike traditional, carb-heavy pasta. And, this version has a much lower calorie count than regular pasta as well, for those of you who are watching the calories they take in! The nutritional value, the low caloric content, the fantastic flavor and amazing texture all combine to make this dish hit all the right places, not only on your taste buds, but also in your stomach and in your brain!
Unfortunately, this phenomenal alternative to traditional wheat pasta, while it has been gaining popularity recently, you’ll struggle to find it in many restaurants, as they prefer the more traditional pasta over the Zucchini noodles. However, if you have a vegan restaurant in your area and don’t feel like cooking for yourself, look up their menu! Chances are that they serve Zucchini pasta, or something close to it, or they can make it for you if you ask! A nice side for those when you’re going out would be cauliflower ‘wings’. We’re going to be going over them later in this article, but they are delicious, fried pieces of cauliflower rolled in sauce in a very similar way to your traditional fried chicken wing! These also have far less calories per gram, and although you’d definitely be missing out on a lot of the protein and fats that a good, old-fashioned chicken wing would get you, you make up for it by getting so many more vitamins from the cauliflower!
You also typically won’t find dried, ready to go strands of Zucchini pasta in neat little boxes stacked on shelves in your local grocery store. As pleasant as that may be, Zucchini noodles can be difficult to store for any long length of time, which unfortunately makes it an impractical option for most stores to carry. But, don’t worry! All you need to do is take a short walk over to that store’s produce section, find the Zucchinis, and pick yourself out one or two good ones to get ready for the amazing dish you’re about to make at home, yourself!
And while you’re there, if you don’t already have the tools we’re about to go over, you might want to see if they already carry some versions of them! It’s very common for most grocery stores to have a section dedicated to cooking tools, so you may very well find some of the tools to make Zucchini Pasta we’re talking about here in your own local store! But, if not, we’ll also be linking to Amazon.com, where you can order these tools quickly and easily at your leisure!
The Tools to make Zucchini Noodles
I know that some people might think that making Zucchini pasta is hard, or that it’s complicated, or that it requires expensive tools to do it right. Well, I’m here to tell you that none of those things are true! In fact, it’s almost exactly the opposite! It’s easy, simple, incredibly quick to make, and everything you need to do it is extremely inexpensive, and the tools we’ll be covering in this article are tried and tested brands that will give you great value for your money and allow you to use them for many, many other things aside from Zucchinis! We’ll also be giving you a variety of options, so that people from any budget range can still get in on the action, because there shouldn’t be any barriers to eating well!
So, we’ll start with the simplest, basic function you’re looking for to make Zucchini pasta. Grab yourself one of these machines, and the pasta is pretty much made for you. I’m talking about, of course, vegetable spiralizers. These are very common kitchen tools that you might already have in your kitchen! For those of you who don’t know, you basically insert a vegetable, like a Zucchini, into a holding apparatus, make sure it’s secure, and then position a cutting knife in the right spot, depending on the machine, and then turn the hand-powered lever at the back of the machine, and watch as your Zucchini starts to spin and you see amazing, long, thin, and noodle-like strands of Zucchini coming out of the front end of the machine. For easy collection, I suggest you place a bowl in front of the machine before you begin, so that the noodles you make can go directly into an easy container and you don’t have to spend time gathering them all up off of your cutting board or counter!
The best ones I can recommend are from Mueller Spiral-Ultra and Hamilton Beach. These two brands never fail to deliver on high quality, dependable products, and while I’m sure you can find other spiralizers on the market for a little less money, these two are almost certainly going to give you a great return on your investment. Not only will they last a long time, many of the products these companies sell come under a warranty, so you can have parts replaced easily if you need to! However, it goes without saying, always check to make sure you’re getting a warranty, even when buying these products! They’re also BPA-Free and food-grade for the plastics and the stainless-steel blades, respectively. So, no need to worry about any bad substances getting into your food, you can just relax and enjoy the amazing flavors and health benefits these bring you! Not only do these machines work perfectly with most Zucchinis, they also work fantastically with almost any other vegetable, and some fruits, too! Carrots are a popular choice to use with spiralizers, as are things like apples, which people like to use for garnish on their desserts, or even cucumbers that people love to spiralize before they throw them into their salads or slaws! This is an incredibly versatile tool, and aside from just using it to make pasta dishes, it could be a vital to prepare fruits and vegetables for things like salads, slaws, pastries, breads, garnishes, and so much more!
Now, we’re going to go in the totally opposite direction and keep it extremely basic. This solution is certainly more labor-intensive, and it will take quite a bit more time, too. But, if you really don’t want to spend money on a spiralizer, or you just don’t have that kind of budget, this could be the option for you. I’m talking about the good, old-fashioned peeler. Yep, just a peeler. Not exactly exciting, but you can get very dependable ones with stainless steel blades that will stay sharp for a good, long while and will always be easy to wash and put away just about anywhere! So, don’t imagine that this doesn’t come with its own perks. Some good brands for this include Hamilton Beach again, well as Cuisinart. These two brands have been around for a while, have a reputation for quality and dependability, and still provide some pretty cheap options. Although, in all honesty, you could get a peeler from just about anywhere and it should still serve you just fine, the only real difference would be how long that one lasts you compared to some of the better-quality brands. Here’s a hint: They probably won’t last nearly as long.
To use these to make Zucchini pasta, well, is a much different story. It’s a tricky task, and honestly, if you’re not at least somewhat experienced with Zucchini pasta already, I’d recommend you just bite the bullet and go for the spiralizer, otherwise you’ll be doing a lot of trial and error with this method. Basically, you’re trying to peel off narrow, somewhat thick strips of Zucchini as you run the peeler along the length of the vegetable. You won’t get the same nice spiral, they will come out straight, but if you do it right, you should get something that looks like a cruder, straighter version of what you’d get with the spiralizer. If you do it incorrectly, though, you’ll end up with something that looks more like Zucchini shavings, and if you try to cook those the way you’d cook other Zucchini noodles, all you’re going to be having for dinner is disappointment. Like I said, it’s a slower, much more labor intensive method, and it requires you to already be pretty familiar with what Zucchini pasta should look like in order for you to make a passable final product. In the end, if you can afford it, this method isn’t really worth the trouble. Just get the spiralizer, and you’ll have your noodles so much more quickly and easily, you won’t have to deal with loosing shavings of Zucchini getting all over your kitchen counter.
So, in essence, what you need to keep in mind is that, if you’re a beginner, electric is probably your best bet. But, if you’re more experienced with Zucchini pasta already and want to experiment more freely with different patterns, thicknesses and shapes, and you don’t mind the challenge involved, manually slicing your own pasta, while slow, could provide you with a fun experience and ultimately a more rustic looking, personalized final product! So, if those selling points seem like something you could grow fond of, give it a try! I mean, chances are that you already have a dent-quality peeler at home somewhere, anyways. It’s always important to never be afraid to experiment with different methods, tools, and new ideas in your cooking, that’s how you’ll learn to make some of your favorite dishes truly yours!
What Kind of Sauce Should I Use?
Any kind of pasta needs sauce, right? Exactly! So, while you could just as easily buy a decent pasta sauce off the shelf at pretty much any store that sells food near you, and get a pretty good end result if you chose well, we’re going to look at some great ways to make simple, delicious sauces for your new Zucchini pasta! We’re going to try to stick with the low-gluten theme throughout these recipe suggestions, but if you’re not sensitive to gluten, or feel like a gluten-heavy alternative to some of our ingredients would taste better to you personally, go for it! Like I said, experimentation is key. With that in mind, you’re going to see a lot of tomato pastes as the base for these sauces. While I know that’s a controversial subject among some people in the food world, personally, I have had amazing experiences with using tomato paste as a base and simply adding liquid as needed to thin it out. This allows you to get the exact right consistency to the sauce that you’re looking for, adding more personalization to your meal, since everyone has their own preference on if they want their sauce to be a little thicker or a little thinner than usual. Personalizing your dishes is the key to having a rewarding cooking experience!
However, if you’re looking for a true from-scratch experience, you could just as easily chop up some tomatoes, remove the seeds, and throw them in something like a food processor to blend up finely. While you may get a waterier product, you’ll also have much more nutrients, and less sugars than if you used a canned, pre-made tomato paste. And if you still want a thicker sauce, but don’t want to lose out on all of those nutrients, you have a few options: you can throw the sauce into a pan as normal, but put it on a higher heat and give it some extra some to bubble away, so that you give the water content in the sauce a chance to properly reduce. The other option is to buy a gluten-free flour and stir in some of that as it cooks, which should serve to thicken up the liquid a little bit. Be careful not to add to much! That could pervert the taste of your sauce, or even lead to clumps of flour throughout your dish!
The first suggestion I’ll give for a sauce is just a very simple, mainly inoffensive sauce that even picky eaters probably won’t complain too much about. It’s very similar to the ‘Original’ pasta sauces you can buy off the shelves in stores. Basically, just warm a saucepan to a medium heat, put in your tomato pasta, stir in water slowly until you reach your desired consistency, and then add in some oregano, some salt, and some pepper to taste. It doesn’t get much more basic than that. If you’re cooking for a lot of people who have different tastes and you’re in a position where you can’t please everybody, with this sauce, at least no one will find themselves unable to eat what you’ve put in front of them. Simple, but sometimes less is more!
Now we’re going to start taking some more daring approaches to the sauces. The best thing about them is that you can pretty much add anything to these sauces, so they’re completely customizable, and you can make truly amazing stuff, if you’re willing to take a chance or two! So, this next sauce is going to be more of my opinion than anything else. So, if you see something you know you won’t like, take it with a grain of salt (or pepper, your choice) and just substitute it for something else you like!
For this next one, we’re going to start with the same tomato sauce base I outlined above, with just tomato sauce and your preferred amount of water. Keep in mind that the more water you add, the more spices you’re going to need to add in to get the same impact when you’re eating. Then, just like before, toss in some oregano, or better yet, Italian seasoning, if you have it, and then some salt. Then, instead of adding in pepper, opt for a dash of lemon pepper instead! Then, add about a teaspoon of lemon zest if you’d really like an extra tang to your sauce, and let it bubble mildly, stirring constantly so that your sauce doesn’t stick to your pot. Once you’re done, you’ll be left with a citrusy, tangy sauce that will hit all of the right taste buds! It’s a must-try if you want to wake up your senses a little with some excitement! If you’re not partial to lemons or sourness, however, you could easily apply the same concept to something like ginger for a more savory dish, or anything else you think would be good!
Don’t be afraid to take risks with your work! Just be sure to add small amounts of your spices at a time, stirring them in thoroughly and tasting your sauce to see how you like it so far. It’s easy to add more spices in, it’s not as easy to take them out. However, if you do mess up, like we all do sometimes, do some research on how to mask the flavors. There’s certain flavors that can negate the effects of others. For instance, if you add in too much salt into the dish, a dash of balsamic vinegar will take a bit of that salty edge away from the dish. Just don’t be afraid to try new things, and, as always, happy cooking!