August 28, 2017
This is about...
Szechuan ZOODLES---YUM!!
szechuan zoodles 1.png
        OK, SO I CRUMBLED. It was 3 AM. My defenses were down, and I couldn’t look away. It took just 30 minutes to convince me that I needed --- that I had to have--- A VEGGIE BULLET. A recent Food Network star contestant was there assuring me that this was going to change my life. And, I believed him, whole hog. Not only does it shred, dice and blend, but IT SPIRALIZES! It magically turns vegetables into curly spaghetti like strands. I had to have it!
        Now, I DON’T EAT A LOT OF PASTA. Not that I don’t love it—I do, but it’s kind of like Pringles for me---betcha can’t eat just one forkful. To remedy that addiction, meatballs and sauce routinely sit on a pile of shredded steamed zucchini, and cauliflower is always disguised as a non-starchy pastina.
        So, TO SEE MY VEGGIES TURNED INTO PASTA IMPERSONATORS GOT ME ALL EXCITED. And when I awoke in the morning--—the first thing I did?-- was place the order.
        I have to admit that except for the spiralizing contraption, I should be able to shred and chop veggies in my own food processor- a Cuisinart relic of sorts, that has a motor that just won’t quit. The lid and the bowl have been replaced time and time again, but now to replace them is too expensive. Sadly, at this point the lid flies off every time I try to use the shredding disk. But I just can’t bear to throw it out. I’ve resorted to hand grating everything instead... at least until 3am on that fateful morning.
        It took 2 weeks, but IT FINALLY ARRIVED! And TO BREAK IT IN, I MADE THIS SZECHUAN ZUCCHINI NOODLE SALAD. ZOODLES are the perfect blank canvas. THIS SAUCE IS PACKED WITH A PILE OF ASIAN FLAVORS —dark sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, and chili-garlic paste—as well as a few spoonfuls of tahini, and peanut butter.
        These “noodles” have all the spice and creaminess of the original without all the white flour carbs. And, THERE’S A TRICK! THAT MAKES THE ZOODLES MORE NOODLEY. You sprinkle the zoodles with salt, let them sit for 10 minutes, rinse them well, and then squeeze all of the liquid out of them. I do this by hand. Surprisingly, the texture becomes much more like a pasta noodle.
        This dish is certainly open to interpretation. You can stick to adding a few veggies, like cucumber and scallion. Or, keep going and add thinly sliced napa cabbage, red peppers, carrots and cilantro. A sprinkle of peanuts or toasted sesame seeds gild the lily, or in this case the zoodles.
        THE SAUCE IS ALSO DYNAMITE ALONE. Thinned out with a little water, use it as a zesty topping for chicken, fish, or grilled veggies, not to mention as an addictive Asian salad dressing.

LESSONS Learned:
1. You don’t have to stay up until 3 am to buy a fancy contraption to make the zoodles. A lot of supermarkets sell zoodles now.
2. If you do make your own, pick medium-size zucchini, large ones have way too many seeds.
3. Zucchini is very watery. So, the more liquid you can squeeze out of them, the better.
4. I like them raw. But... you can saute the zoodles in a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil first for about 5 minutes before tossing them with the sauce.
5. Make extra sauce!

Szechuan Zoodles

For the sauce:
2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
¼ low sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar (I use brown rice vinegar)
2 Tablespoons tahini
1 Tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger (or more to taste)
¼ teaspoon finely minced or grated garlic (or more to taste)
¼ teaspoon chili-garlic paste (or more to taste)

For the Zoodles:
5-6 medium-size zucchini about 3 1/2-4 lbs.
2 teaspoons Kosher salt

For garnish: (use any or all)
½ of a small regular cucumber peeled, sliced into 1” matchsticks
¼ cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
½ red bell pepper, finely diced or thinly sliced
1/8 head napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 small carrot sliced in matchsticks
cilantro leaves

Make the sauce:
In a medium size bowl, add all of the sauce ingredients, and stir to combine well.

Make the zoodles:
        Spiralize the zucchini, or use purchased ones. Place in a colander with the salt and toss to coat. Let the zucchini sit for 10 minutes. Rinse well and then using your hands or some cheesecloth, squeeze and squeeze the liquid out until very dry.
        Gently toss with the sauce until fully coated. If you have them, tongs will be helpful here. Garnish with any or all of the toppings.

Makes 4 servings.      YUM!
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