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The Definitive Guide on How to Make Zoodles That Aren’t Sad, Soggy, or Bland

Kells McPhillips

Kells McPhillipsMay 7, 2020

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Photo: Getty Images/BRETT STEVENS

Zoodles—aka zucchini noodles—are one of the most controversial ingredients in the healthy-eating world. Some dismiss them on the spot as soggy, sad imposters for real pasta; others wax poetic about their spiralizer and their fancy chilled Zoodle salads. It’s a Jets and the Sharks situation, but when you learn how to make zoodles correctly (and TBH, you just STOP comparing them to fettuccini altogether), they can actually serve as a tasty base to your healthy dinners.

“Zucchini is more than 90 percent water, making it a challenge when trying to cook zoodles and avoid sogginess,” says Jen Knox, executive chef for Green Bar & Kitchen, a plant-based restaurant located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Luckily, Knox has a few smart fixes for serving zoodles that aren’t sweating in their own water (bleh!). Check out all the ways to spiralize, properly cook, and serve zoodles for veggie-forward dinners.

The three best methods for how to make zoodles

Method 1: use a hand spiralizer, Stand Mixer attachment, or spiralizing machine

There are all sorts of gadgets and gizmos out there to help you transform an unexceptional zucchini (or carrot, beet, parsnip, or veggie of your choice) into noodle-esque shapes. Because they come at varying price points, you’ll want to decide how committed you really are to this whole spiralizing thing. Here’s a quick rundown of your options, along with instructions on how to use each tool.

1. Handheld spiralizers, $11

All Photos: Amazon

Handheld spiralizers come in many different designs, but many of them are just glorified vegetable peelers (and you know better than to fall for one of those). The one pictured above allows you to select from three shapes for your noodles, then you simply twist the zucchini through the processor to yield a beautiful pile of green noodles.

2. KitchenAid attachment, $70

If you cannot be bothered with cranking your zoodles by hand (it me) and you own a KitchenAid, you are in luck, my friend. Kitchen Aid’s spiralizing attachment will cost you a pretty penny, but will save you a whole lot of time and frustration. Once you’ve placed the attachment on your KitchenAid, choose whether you want your noodles to be medium, fine, or extra fine. Then, simply skewer the vegetable your choice on the included metal spoke (this part’s a bit violent but necessary) and turn on the machine for noddles that come out perfectly.

3. Spiralizer, $23

If you have an excess of kitchen space and love eating zoodles, buying an appliance specifically for making them might be a good idea for you. I’ve personally owned one of these babies, and I will say that even though they’re pretty hard to clean, I did love it. Similar to the KitchenAid attachment, this baby will instruct you to skewer your vegetable (again, so violent) and hand crank it through your chosen blade for noodles that come out pretty much uniform.

Method 2: Cut your zoodles with a vegetable peeler

Okay, so let’s say you want to dip your toe in the zoodling water before investing in any sort of tool that could just end up in your junk drawer. In that case, a vegetable peeler will make strands of zucchini that very much resemble thick Italian fettuccini. Just peel use the same motion you use to strip the zucchini of its skin again and again and again until you wind up with long strands of fasta (that’s fake pasta). Different peelers—like the fancy julienne peeler—will create different shapes.

Method 3: USE A MANDOLINE

Mandoline slicers like this one ($45) are invaluable tools for taking the blood, sweat, and tears out of cutting veggies (that is, if you don’t accidentally chop your finger off). They make all elements of meal preparation way easier. Meaning, you can invest in one for the zoodles, but keep the device for chopping onions, tomatoes, and more. To make your noodles, just run a zucchini back and forth on one of these babies and have zoodles in mere minutes.

3 ways to cook your zoodles so they don’t end up a soupy

Now that you have a heaping pile of zoodles ready to cook, pay close attention—this next step is key in ensuring that you don’t wind up with a swamp on your plate rather than a bowl of pasta. Unlike normal bowtie pasta, you can’t just toss your fresh zoodles into a boiling pot of water. There are three distinct methods for cooking al dente-style vegetable noodles.

1. Blanch them

“I suggest doing a super quick blanch—a quick toss into boiling salted water—for about 20 seconds, and immediately shock the vegetables in an ice bath,” says Knox. “Remove the zoodles from the ice bath and place on a towel until you need them. This will soften the zucchini while retaining its color and vitamins—without making the zoodles soggy.”

When you’re ready to add the sauce, you don’t need to reheat or cook the noodles. Just leave them be, and pour the sauce on top as you serve them. “This will help avoid you dish becoming ‘watery’ or ‘soupy’,” says Knox. Praise be.

2. bake them

 

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Ever tried baking your veggie noodles? 🙋‍♀️I had a bunch of @cecesveggieco noodles in the fridge so I made this epic RAINBOW VEGGIE NOODLE BAKE with YOGURT DILL TAHINI. 🌈 🍋 //#sponsored I used a mix of beet, sweet potato, and zucchini noodles to make this dish with chickpea protein and a creamy oil-free yogurt dill tahini. Grab the recipe 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻. It’s perfect for an easy weeknight dinner for yourself or a few lucky humans! 🙋‍♀️It’s been a while since I shared a good one pan meal on the blog and this one is 💯. Honestly I bet I could get through the entire winter with just one pot and one pan for soup and one-pan meals, what do you think!? Who wants to bet. 😎 . . . https://www.floraandvino.com/rainbow-veggie-noodle-bake-with-yogurt-dill-tahini/ . . . #floraandvino #cecesveggieco #simplebuttwisted

A post shared by Lauren / Flora & Vino (@flora_and_vino) on

Baking any vegetable naturally dries it out, so Lauren Kirchmaier, the recipe developer behind Flora & Vino, recommends tossing your noodles of choice onto a pan and cooking them for about 25 minutes. Not only will this save you the grief of sweating over a hot pan, you’ll wind up with noodles that are convincingly al dente and will actually twirl around your fork.

3. Toss them in the air fryer

There’s nothing (okay, okay—few things) that the air fryer can’t do—and you can go ahead and add zoodle-baking to its resume. As recommended by the geniuses at Fork to Spoon, blot your zoodles with towels to remove any excess water, then toss your pasta in avocado or olive oil and lay them out in the air fryer basket. Cook for seven to 10 minutes at 350 degrees, and you should be good to go.

Now you just need sauce, and we’ve got 3 recipes to make your zoodles taste delicious

1. 1-pan pesto zoodles

Our very own YouTube channel is coming in hot (literally) with a delicious pesto you can scoop on top of your spiralized noodles for speedy weeknight dinners. Don’t forget the parm—plant-based or otherwise.

2. Chef Knox’s Zoodle bowl with firecracker sauce with vegetables and tofu

If you want a dish you can make once over the weekend and eat for lunch all week long, Knox’s recipe is for you. She’ll teach you to make a ton of her signature firecracker sauce that you can refrigerate or freeze fo many Asian-inspired meals to come.

Ingredients

For the firecracker sauce

  • 3 1/4 cups of filtered water
  • 4 1/4 cups of tamari
  • 3 cups of flax oil
  • 2 1/4 cups of agave
  • 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp of sesame oil
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp of flax seeds
  • 1 cup of of fresh ginger
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp of fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup of scallions
  • 2 Tbsp of chili flakes

For the zoodles

  • 2 large zucchinis
  • 1/4 cup of salt
  • 1 pound of ice cubes

For the vegetables and tofu

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, medium diced
  • 1 cup of broccoli florets1
  • 1/2 yellow onion, medium diced
  • 2 baby bok Choy, rough chopped
  • 1 pack of extra-firm tofu
  • 1/2 of the Firecracker dressing

To make the sauce:

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender,  except the scallions.
  2. Mince the scallions and fold in.
  3. Test for seasoning.

To make the zoodles:

  1. Spiralize your zucchini and set aside.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Make sure the water is seasoned with salt to “taste like to ocean.”
  3. Place zoodles in boiling water for only 20 seconds. Strain them.
  4. Remove quickly and immediately place the noodles in an ice bath, made up of ice cubs and the remaining water absorbed by the zucchini during cooking.
  5. Place on a towel and pat the tops dry.

To make the vegetables and tofu:

  1. Press excess moisture out of the tofu. Cut into medium pieces and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a non-stick pan.
  3. Sauté all the vegetable until they reach desired softness and remove from pan. Set them aside.
  4. Add tofu and sauté until browned.
  5. Add vegetables back to sauté pan, along with the firecracker sauce and zoodles. Toss until all ingredients are well-coated in the sauce.
  6. Season with the sesame oil, sesame seeds, and scallions.

3. Chef Knox’s zoodles with creamy cashew vegan alfredo 

Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cups of sodium-free vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbsp salt 1
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3/4 cup unsalted cashews, soaked for one hour
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 large zucchinis

 

  1. Sauté the onion over medium heat until translucent and soft.
  2. Add the garlic and continue to sauté for one minute, being careful not to burn it.
  3. Add 1/2 the vegetable stock and reduce the heat until all the liquid is nearly gone.
  4. Remove from heat and set aside.
  5. In a blender, add soaked cashews, cooked oniona and garlic mix, the remainder of the vegetable stock, 1/2 the lemon juice, the nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper.
  6. Blend on high until it reaches a creamy consistency.
  7. Taste, add additional lemon juice if you like, and serve over baked, air-fried, or blanched zoodles.

As all three recipes above prove, making tasty zoodles that don’t drown in their own bodily fluids (ew, I know) isn’t an impossible task. You just need the correct tools (in the form of a spiralizer, KitchenAid attachment, hand spiralizer, Madoline, or vegetable peeler). After that, just pile all your noodles into a pot of boiling water, an air fryer, or the oven and cook only until tender (not soft) and add your sauce. It’s not pasta—but it might just be the next best thing.

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