zoodles

We’re all looking for ways to cut calories here and there, and in the summer, as everyone’s garden explodes with zucchini and squash, a new guilt-free cooking trend is to replace pasta with zucchini noodles, or zoodles. These are just thinly sliced squash meant to emulate noodles – so you can enjoy your favorite pasta dish without all the carbs. You can find inexpensive hand-held spiralizers at many local stores (check the “As Seen on TV” section) or fancier ones to attach to your stand mixer. Mandoline slicers can do the job, too, and in a pinch you can even use a vegetable peeler to make long, thinly sliced strips.

Zucchini Noodle Salad

If you’re just using it uncooked, as with our Zucchini Noodle Salad recipe, or boiling it like pasta (or as I like to do it, with pasta… everything in moderation, after all), you can ignore this next part. But if you want to use it in a baked casserole or skillet dish, it’s very important to drain the zucchini first, or else the moisture from the vegetable will make your recipe turn out soggy. After all, zucchini and most other squash are about 95 percent water, whereas dried pasta… I’m going to guess closer to 0 percent.

Eggplant is another vegetable we often use in Italian casseroles (hello, eggplant parmesan), and if you’ve ever cooked with it, this draining process may sound familiar.

eggplant-draining

  1. Place the sliced zucchini noodles (or eggplant, as in the photo above) in a colander, trying not to overlap.
  2. Sprinkle it with salt, and let it sit for about 20 minutes. This will draw out excess moisture, which will drain through the colander and prevent your zucchini from getting too soggy and your eggplant from tasting too bitter.
  3. To avoid an overly salty dish, use cold water to rinse the salt off your zoodles or eggplant, and pat dry with a paper towel. Then you’re ready to start cooking!
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Zucchini Noodle Skillet Lasagna

This trick of draining zoodles before cooking really helps if you’re making our Zucchini Noodle Skillet Lasagna. What are your favorite recipes using zucchini noodles? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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