Saturday, May 21, 2016

zoodle stir fry

Until recently, I hadn't heard of zoodles.  My trainer mentioned them to me and said I should try them for something different and as a pasta alternative. I recently tried them, and I was pleasantly surprised.

What are zoodles, anyway? They're zucchini "noodles."  You take a zucchini and use a little tool called a zoodler to make long noodles that resemble spaghetti.  It looks and works like a manual pencil sharpener.  Here's an example.

I decided to try them, because the local grocery store had them already cut.  I don't have a zoodle maker and I didn't want to buy one, just in case I didn't like the zoodles.  The package contained yellow squash, zucchini and carrots--the carrots were julienned--and cost $4.99.  Since I didn't have to do the work, I figured it was a good price.

I found a recipe online at Nerd Fitness (a new favorite website).  It's a stir fry made with zoodles, chicken breast, veggies, and a sauce of lime juice, fish sauce and red pepper flakes.  It has a Thai flavor and it seemed like it would be interesting.  (For once, I read through the entire recipe--I'm famous for not reading through, and then I'm surprised when I'm missing a couple items or I'm not prepared for a step that requires some prep work or waiting.)  I did all the prep work of chopping the veggies, mixing the sauce, cutting up the chicken and beating the egg.  I'm glad I did, because it would have really delayed meal time.  It was easy to cook once I had all the prep done and it tasted great.  I was very surprised at how much I liked the zoodles.  The texture wasn't mushy.  The key to this is to leave the raw zoodles out for a couple hours so the water evaporates; zucchini and squash have a lot of water.  I could really taste the lime juice and all the flavors worked well together.

Here's the finished product:

So, zoodles.  Do they vaguely resemble (in looks) spaghetti?  Somewhat.  They're long and thin.  Do they cook like spaghetti?  Not that I'm aware of.  All the recipes I've seen call for sauteing the zoodles, not boiling them. Do they taste like spaghetti?  Nope.  This is not something that will fool you into thinking you're eating pasta.  Some people treat them like spaghetti and put all the trappings of a pasta dinner on them--sauce, cheese, etc.  I don't know that I would like that, so I think I will stick to recipes that call for Asian flavors.  Or, really, anything other than pasta sauce. Do they taste like nasty vegetables?  Well, if you don't like zucchini and squash...the answer is yes.  If you like those veggies, then, no, they don't taste nasty.  Are they mushy?  Some people say yes, but they key is to not overcook them and to put them in a bowl or on a plate for a few hours before cooking. Yes, in the open air.  This lets some of the water evaporate from the zoodles.

Here's the recipe:  Thai Noodle Stir Fry.

What I did differently from the recipe:  I used pre-made zoodles, used peanuts instead of cashews, and didn't use any of the optional items--I just didn't have them on-hand.

 If you want something different, go try this recipe.

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