Oodles of Zucchini Noodles & Deconstructed Pesto!
When I moved to my house, I was so excited. I could finally have a garden… grow things… eat from the land… be like my grandparents… yeah! Well, here’s how that went. Seeing all the little squirrels and neighborhood cats running around… the occasional possum or racoon… I skeeved the land. Not even putting on gloves was gonna get me to start digging in the dirt. I know, I know I’m silly but that’s my truth. Ha!
Luckily there are many others NOT like me who love to garden and take pure joy at working their land and look forward to this time of year when their hard work yields bountiful gardens. A hearty crop in my area is zucchini and basil, two of my favorites.
A long time ago, my grandfather had a great garden where his basil crop was a big deal. Just the fragrance of it brings it to mind and puts a smile on my face. I’ve been known to take a bunch, add it to a glass of water and make it my special bouquet. In fact, that’s how you should keep fresh basil. On the counter in water so the leaves are open and full. When the leaves droop, cut the stems a bit, change the water, and watch the basil pop back up. I’ve used basil in dishes like Cherry Tomato and Mozzarella Tarte Tatin and Fresh Tomato & Mozzarella Pasta and made some fabulous pesto for the Oscars in Grand BudaPESTO Mozzarell’. Basil is the song of summer gardens.
Zucchini is such a great vegetable. I like to keep it in the house to make a quick meal like the Oscar dish The Imitation Grain or sweeten it up in a delicious Zucchini Loaf. You can eat it raw or cook it up. It’s versatile and delicious.
And from there we have this wonderful dish of combining both garden delights into a light and fresh dish that comes with all the flavor and none of the heaviness of pesto with pasta.
They call them zucchini noodles or zoodles but I call them mockaroni! They really step in as a great substitute when I want to eat light and stay away from traditional macaroni. Although you can buy them ready to go, they’re so easy to make and fresher when you do it yourself, especially if you’re using the wonderful produce from your garden. No one needs yet another gadget but a small and inexpensive spiralizer is a great addition to any kitchen. It’s fun to get others in on the meal by letting them create the noodles while you attend to the basil.
And boy, when you start mincing the basil, the aroma is intensely wonderful. This is precisely the joy of pesto but it uses quite a lot of oil, making it fat-rich and calorie-heavy. My deconstructed pesto uses a lot less oil, taking advantage of the moisture from the zoodles to distribute the flavors throughout and really enhancing all the different elements that make a delicious pesto.
You can make it as a main dish or grill some chicken or steak and serve them together. The taste of the basil, cheese, zucchini noodles… the flavor and texture of those toasted pine nuts… yum. And use whatever squash you have! Yellow squash, green squash, whatever you can spiralize! Whichever you use, it’s gonna SQUASH your hunger – hahahahaha!
- - 4 medium zucchini
- - 2 tbsp olive oil
- - 6 cloves garlic, minced
- - 2 tbsp pine nuts
- - salt to taste
- - pepper to taste
- - red pepper chili flakes to taste
- - 1 cup fresh basil, minced
- - 4 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
- Spiralize zucchini and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic and pine nuts lightly brown.
- Add all the zucchini noodles, remaining oil, spices, and basil. Mix well. The noodles start big but will quickly cook down.
- Sprinkle with 2 tbsp cheese and mix. Plate and sprinkle with remaining cheese as you like.