I love pasta. There, I said it. It's true. I do! But, alas, it is not always the healthiest choice in my recipe repertoire! How do I cope? VEGGIE PASTA!!
I love to make noodles out of veggies! They are a wonderful way to get a large serving of vitamins and minerals while satisfying those comfort food cravings. And they're RAW! Bonus!!! My favs to noodle-ize are carrots, yams and zucchini. I would adore a spiralizer, but for now I just use a hand-held julienne peeler. They are relatively inexpensive, and you can get them in combo with a hand-held mandolin slicer at most grocery stores for around $10! Also, they are great way to see if you love these noodles without the pesky monetary investment of a spiralizer. =)
This week, I was obsessed with zucchini noodles. (Probably because I bought like 10 organic zucchinis on impulse at Whole Foods...gotta love sales!) As a result, I made this simple base salad that serves as a wonderful side dish, or as the starter for a main-course veggie-ful entrée. This veggie-powered noodle salad is the perfect summer lunch or dinner side dish. This creamy, yet light, salad is great on its own. But if you want to really make it shine, add peas, lightly sautéed asparagus and mushrooms to it. The added vegetables, flavors and textures really make it more substantial when served as a main course.
Super Simple Zucchini Noodle Pasta Salad
Makes two full-sized entrée servings, or four side dish servings.
2 large zucchini
2 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
3/4-1 cup water
1-2 cloves garlic (to taste)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
Salt & Pepper, to taste
To make: Spiralize or julienne peel your cucumbers. Toss with the baby spinach and set aside. In a high speed blender, combine raw cashews and 3/4 cup water. Blend on high until a light white sauce forms. It will be fairly thin. Add the flesh of one avocado, 1-2 cloves of garlic, lemon juice and nutritional yeast. Blend on medium until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper. I usually add about 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper. If you aren't keen on adding straight salt, a few dashes of low sodium tamari works also.
Toss the zucchini spinach mixture with about half of the sauce, adding more sauce until you reach the desired amount of sauce to noodle ratio. Divide among plates and top with fresh veggies, vegan parma, or crushed nuts. Hemp seeds and sunflower seeds are great noodle toppers too!
Now, when I make raw noodle dishes, I often play with spices and flavors until the sauce is perfect for my tastes. Feel free to play around and modify, modify, modify!! Fresh herbs and exotic spices are always a good additive! If you find a variation you love, let me know in the comments below! =)