When I first decided to eat grain-free at the beginning of this year, my main concern was pasta.I knew that the primary reason for weight gain and a large belly was due to how the Western diet is made up of so much wheat, and let’s face the truth – pasta is made of wheat.
By going grain-free, it implied that my favorite pasta dishes – which I’d previously packed into my menu at least three times a week – would now have to be pushed aside and eaten only once in a long while.
Up till then, I never thought that the three packets of spaghetti in my pantry would go untouched for the rest of the year, but once I’d made up my mind about going grain-free, I found myself slightly at a loss.
You see, I absolutely adore pasta, in almost every shape and size.
When Italy stole my heart seven years ago, so did its cuisine (mostly pasta, pizza and gelato). Whenever I think about this beautiful country, I cannot help but think of pasta, and then feel like eating it. I especially loved the long strands of pasta that you could twirl your fork around, and going grain-free definitely didn’t make that easy.
Naturally, I had to think of substitutes – how was I going to replace my beloved pasta? What could I do satisfy those frequent cravings for noodles, especially noodles mixed with a deliciously fragrant pesto sauce?
Of course, I didn’t invent the idea of zucchini noodles. It’s an ingenious invention that’s been around for quite a while, but until I actually embraced going grain-free, I’d never tried making noodles from fresh zucchini.
But the first time I made these zucchini noodles, I fell in love.
I realized then that while I loved pasta, perhaps what I loved more was the idea of noodles – strands of something that I could slurp up from soup or pick up with my fork. So essentially, zucchini noodles, which don’t even have to be cooked to be eaten, were the perfect fix!
Today’s recipe is a twist on pesto spaghetti – which can be made without cooking.
Let’s start with the zucchini, which is as easy as ABC. Using a julienne peeler, shred the fresh zucchini into thin strips of noodles. Can you believe you’ve gotten noodles just like that?
All you’ll need for the pesto sauce is a food processor or a blender – then blend the fresh basil leaves, walnuts, olive oil, garlic, salt, and water, until you get a rich green paste. If the paste is too thick, add a little bit more water at a time and pulse a little more until you get the consistency you like. Add salt to taste, and there you have it! Pesto sauce in just five minutes! Isn’t this amazing?
All that’s left to do is to mix the pesto sauce with the zucchini noodles, throw on some cherry tomato and walnuts, and a delicious, healthy, low-calorie meal awaits you.
Mix pesto sauce with zucchini noodles, throw on some cherry tomato and walnuts, and a delicious, healthy, low-calorie meal awaits you.
- For the pesto
- 1 small bowl of fresh basil leaves
- 1 handful of walnuts (or a mix of walnuts and almonds) + more for garnish
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of room temperature water (or a bit more if pesto is too thick)
- 1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
- Salt to taste
- For the zucchini noodles
- 1 large zucchini (or 2 small zucchinis), julienned with a julienne peeler
- 1/4 bowl of cherry tomatoes, halved
- Combine basil leaves, nuts, olive oil, water and garlic in a food processor and pulse until you can a thick sauce (if too thick, add 1 teaspoon of water at a time until it reaches desired consistency)
- Add salt to taste.
- Julienne the zucchini with the julienne peeler
- In a large bowl, mix the julienned zucchini with cherry tomatoes and pesto sauce.
- Sprinkle with a few walnuts on top