Lemon, Alfredo sauce, or tomato sauce?
If you like spicy food like I do, you definitely want to try these Asian style spicy, peanut sauce flavored zucchini noodles. It is one of my favorite, mouth-watering summer salads. After adding some natural peanut butter and homemade chili oil with other simple commonly used ingredients, you can make these fresh and creamy zucchini noodles with a twist of hot flavor in 10 minutes or less.
What are zucchini noodles?
Zucchini noodles or zoodles (you might see this name in some recipes) are not pasta made from grains. Instead they are noodle shaped slices of zucchini squash. Since they are naturally gluten-free and low in carbohydrates, it makes them a great substitution for grain noodles in noodle salads.
There are several ways to make zucchini noodles. I am listing a few options you might find useful.
Method 1. Mandolin
This is the method I used with this recipe. Choose the thick julienne slicer insert and make the slices. Rotate the zucchini squash so that all the flesh is sliced without including any seed/core part. The center part of zucchini is slightly tougher to slice. However, if you don’t want to waste any part of your squash, you can use a paring knife to slice the core and then mix it in with the sliced zucchini noodles. Older squash have tougher and larger cores, so try to pick some small fresh squash for this recipe if possible.
Method 2. Food Processor
A food processor is a great way to slice zucchini squash, especially when you have a limited time to cook. However, zucchini noodles made from food processor are shorter because the squash have to be cut to an appropriate size to fit in the food processor feed tube. The resulting noodles are more like shreds than noodles (great in making zucchini bread).
Method 3. Peeler
You can use a julienne peeler to make zucchini noodles. However, a sharp ordinary peeler can peel the zucchini squash into wider noodles. If you don’t have any fancy tools to help you make slices, this is a handy and efficient alternate way.
Method 4. Spiral Vegetable Slicer
Somewhat of a newcomer, the spiral vegetable slicer has been used widely in the world of slicing vegetables. It’s a light and convenient tool that works really well.
No matter what kind of sauce/dressing you are going to use in your zucchini noodle salad, the most important tip to keeping the salad fresh is to Not Add Sauce/Dressing Until You Are Ready to Serve Your Salad.
In general, sauce or dressing for salads has higher concentration of solutes, such as salt and sugar, than is inside the plant cells or tissues. Once the vegetables are immersed in sauce or dressing, the water content of vegetables tends to flow out to balance the concentration of solutes. The process will end once it reaches its dynamic equilibrium (see Hypertonicity on wikipedia). At this point, the salad will be seasoned, but wilted as well.
Nobody wants to serve a wilted and soggy salad, right? You can slice the zucchini noodles and refrigerate them without adding any sauce/dressing ahead of time. Serve the spicy peanut sauce when everybody is ready for this simple but flavorful salad. If you are planning to take this salad to work, bring the sauce in a separate container. Hope you have a chance to enjoy these simple Asian style zucchini noodles this summer.
- 2 medium zucchini (approximately 15 oz total)
- 1 tbs natural peanut butter
- 1 tsp soy sauce (gluten-free if desired)
- ⅛ tsp sea salt
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbs chili oil (or appropriate amount for your taste)
- ½ tbs fresh lemon juice
- ¼ tsp agave nectar
- 1 tsp roasted sesame seeds (white or black)
- Making Zucchini Noodles: Use a mandolin julienne slicer or spiral vegetable slicer to slice the zucchini squash. Refrigerate till it’s ready to serve.
- Making Sauce: In a small mixing bowl, whisk the remaining ingredients except sesame seeds until creamy.
- Add the sauce into the bowl with zucchini noodles. Gently toss to combine thoroughly. Sprinkle roasted sesame seeds on top. Serve immediately.