Zucchini Noodle – A Paleo Staple

Ready to be added to sauce

OH what a steep learning curve this going grain free is.  There have been some serious challenges to keeping it up….the biggest being that I am a mom that signs up/volunteers/says yes and takes on more than I should.  I can actually hear Big Daddy’s eyes roll as I write this because although I sign myself up for this stuff, it ultimately becomes part of his to do list too.  Whether it is another night of the week that he is ‘single dadding’ while I am fulfilling some obligation or the days he chauffeurs me all over town to events, a certain grocery store or some such.  I know it sometimes drives him crazy but he is also very proud of how I dedicate my time and is certainly thankful for a wife that can cook (and likes to).

He was asked recently how he felt about having a gluten free/sugar free/soon to be grain free house (because really he has no real health issues that demand this strictness) He shrugged, “I don’t really notice.  Emily cooks food, it’s yummy, so I eat it”

This is my pretty much the same attitude my kids have.  We don’t sit down to meals that are obviously missing something.  There isn’t an attitude of ‘where’s the’.  The meal stands up to the status of ‘dinner’ all on it’s own without the need for gluten, sugar or grains to make it complete.

That being said, it has been hard work learning how to do that.  You cut out grains and there are some real staples that kids love that get crossed off the list….noodles being the first.  What is more fun for little hands than the learning how to twirl spaghetti around a fork.  Noodles are fun food and almost all kids love them so it was one of the first things I had to learn to replace.

Luckily there is a quick and easy replacement that the kids aren’t objecting to.  I started by adding the zucchini noodle to rice noodle spaghetti and then have been slowly weaning us away from the grain based pasta.  It is a change, but not a painful one.

How to make Zucchini Noodles
This is one of few dishes I will give a recipe for that really needs special kitchen equipment.  You need either a Mandoline, Spiralizer or a tool that looks like a peeler but actually juliennes.  

You need:
6 medium size zucchini, try to get ones that are as straight as possible
salt
2-3 clean fresh tea towels
a cookie tray or roasting pan

Wash the zucchini and cut the ends off.  You can peel them if you want, they will look more like wheat noodles if you peel them…..I don’t

My sexy ‘Spiralizer’

‘Noodle’ them using what ever tool you’ve got just avoid trying to make noodles with the seedy center  (this is why I really like the Spiral Slicer because it removes that part for you.  It also gives you long continuous noodles while the mandoline and peeler can only give you noodles the length of the zucchini.  The Spiral Slicer will also give you some funny half slivered moon cuts that aren’t noodle like at all.  The more awkward shaped the zucchini the more of these will occur..  I like to put them into a container and throw them into everything from eggs to soups to stir frys all week)

Lay your noodles out on your roasting pan or cookie sheet that has been lined with the tea towels.  Sprinkle with salt and gently toss to distribute the salt.  From here there are two ways to go forward –

1. Set it aside for an hour letting the salt pull some of the moisture out of the zucchini
2. Put the pan in a preheated 200 oven for 30-45 minutes to force it to sweat out some of its moisture.

Removing some of the moisture not only gives the noodles a more ‘noodle like’ consistency but if you didn’t and added these noodles to any pasta dish they would really water down your sauce as they cooked.

Once they have sweated for a while (and cooled if you put them in the oven), roll up the tea towels creating a log with the noodles in it and gently press more liquid out.  The tea towels will get surprisingly wet.

I feel the best way to cook these is to add them to an already simmering sauce but some people put them in a covered microwavable dish and nuke them for a couple of minutes.  Either way these will satisfy those noodle cravings

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