04 Oct Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Cashew Basil Pesto
By: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE, CLT of Avocado a Day Nutrition
Did you know October is Celiac Awareness Month? It’s a time to raise awareness for the autoimmune disease, which causes the body to attack it’s tissues when exposed to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
With the increased awareness of celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there are tons of new options for those who need to avoid gluten, including gluten free breads, crackers, cookies and other snack foods. In the pasta aisle at Earth Fare alone, you can find noodles made from buckwheat, rice, beans, lentils, tofu and more!
However, one the most popular new gluten free pasta swaps can’t be found in the grains aisle. Instead, just head to the produce section and grab a few zucchini squash to make zucchini noodles, aka zoodles!
The spiralizer has become one of the hottest new kitchen gadgets over the past couple years. It’s ability to turn vegetables into thin noodle-like ribbons is a lot of fun to experiment with. You can turn anything from sweet potatoes to beets to zucchini into noodles, perfect for tossing with your favorite sauce, warmed in a broth to make noodle soup, or flash sautéed and combined with pasta to add bulk, texture and more nutrients.
Keep in mind, unless you’re using sweet potatoes or another type of starchy vegetable to make noodles, you’ll want to include another source of carbohydrate in your dish. Think nutrient dense whole grain pasta (a gluten free variety if needed), beans, fruit, or whole grains like millet, quinoa or brown rice. This is a fairly light dish, so you may want to add protein with chickpeas, white beans, grilled chicken or shrimp.
If you’d like to make extra pesto, double up the recipe and freeze the rest with a small layer of olive oil over the top. This will prevent the pesto from browning in the freezer. If there’s leftovers, serve it dolloped over eggs, in a sandwich or with grilled meats.
Be sure to toss the zucchini noodles with pesto immediately before serving. The salt in the pesto will draw water out of the zucchini, so leftovers will turn into a soggy mess. If you’d like to have leftovers, pack the zoodles and pesto separately.
If you use a spiralizer to make vegetable noodles, you’ll be left with the small core in the center. To reduce waste, either cut the core into thin strips or compost it.
Zucchini Noodles with Vegan Cashew Basil Pesto
For the ‘zoodles’:
– 3 medium zucchini, spiralized or julienned
– 4 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
– Hemp seeds, for garnish
For the pesto:
– 1 shallot, peeled
– 2 garlic cloves, peeled
– ½ cup cashews, soaked in water overnight or in hot water for an hour, drained
– 2 cups basil, packed
– ¼ cup nutritional yeast
– 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
– ½ cup water
1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Toss the tomatoes with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast 40 minutes until slightly shriveled and some of the juices are released.
2. While the tomatoes are roasting, make the pesto. Place the shallot and garlic in the food processor and pulse until finely minced. Add the cashews, basil, nutritional yeast and olive oil and blend until creamy. Season with salt and black pepper.
3. Toss zucchini noodles with tomatoes and pesto and serve garnished with hemp seeds.
Rachael Hartley is a private practice dietitian and food and wellness blogger at Avocado A Day Nutrition. She believes loving every bite of food is central to living a happy and healthy life. Through her practice and blog, Rachael inspires clients and readers to rediscover the joy of eating with nourishment, not deprivation, and to nurture a healthy relationship with food. Follow along on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.