Desiring weight loss but can't seem to give up your heaping bowl of rich pasta? Do we have good news for you!
Although noodles can certainly fit into a well-balanced diet, people often misinterpret serving and portion sizes. This often leads to overindulging on calories and carbs.
Noodles can be reduced or eliminated by bulking up pasta dishes with veggies. Although the texture may vary, the carb content is significantly lowered while supplying heaping amounts of nutrients.
Give your beloved pasta a nutritious makeover with this zucchini pasta with a fresh pesto sauce!
Zucchini Pasta with Pesto Recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
Nutrition per serving: 230 calories, 22 g fat, 4 g protein, 6 g total carb, 2 g fiber
• 3 large zucchinis (about 9 cups)
• 2 cups of fresh basil leaves, cleaned and pat dry
• 2 garlic cloves
• 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted*
• 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
• Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
1. Making zucchini noodles is not overly challenging. However, there are tips to ensure they come out "al dente" and not a soggy mess. One of the best cooking methods for the zoodles is by baking them in the oven. So, preheat oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Using a spiralizer, spiral the zucchinis to create the "noodles." A vegetable peeler can work as well, just include the peel for maximum nutrients! Shave down until the center with the seeds.
3. Add noodles to the lined sheet, making sure they are evenly spaced and not overcrowded. Use two baking sheets as needed.
4. Roast for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until noodles have reached preferred consistency. Check and flip noodles throughout to ensure even cooking.
5. While the noodles are roasting, quickly whip up the pesto sauce. Add the basil, garlic, and pine nuts to a blender or food processor. Pulse until finely chopped.
6. Slowly add the olive oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Stop and scrape sides and slowly thin the pesto out with more olive oil as needed.
7. Gently mix in the cheese and add salt and pepper to taste.
8. Add the cooked zoodles into a large bowl then top with the pesto sauce.
9. Garnish with shredded chicken, cherry tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, etc. as desired and enjoy!
*Toasting the pine nuts is not an essential step, but doing so is arguably key for preparing the best pesto! Toasting them elevates flavor by bringing out their natural oils. It also takes just a few minutes to do so!
To do so, add nuts to a dry skillet over medium heat on the stovetop. Stirring frequently, cook until the nuts bare golden spots or about 3 minutes.
Explore Other Vegetable Pasta Recipes
Zucchini is a great vegetable to prepare noodles, but there are so many other pastabilities to explore! Have fun with experimenting with different cooking techniques and flavors!
Some of our favorite veggie noodle ideas include spaghetti squash, eggplant, cucumbers, seaweed, and beetroot.
Spaghetti squash is low in calories and carbs like zucchini noodles and packed with vitamins A and C.
Spaghetti squash noodles can harness a variety of flavors, including the pesto detailed above or these ideas:
• Spaghetti and meatballs: Top with pasta sauce and turkey or beef meatballs.
• Healthified chicken parmesan: Add cubed grilled chicken, tomato sauce, and fresh seasonings such as parsley and oregano.
• Tacos: Mix squash with black beans, chopped tomatoes, and other favorite taco mix-ins and garnishes.
This nightshade is commonly used to prepare eggplant parmesan, a dish featuring breaded and fried eggplant layered with cheese and tomato sauce.
To lighten up the Italian fare, prepare a hearty, yet low-carb eggplant lasagna. Start by cutting the eggplant into thin slices, lightly brush with olive oil, then roast until soft and golden.
Once roasted, use eggplant slices as you would traditional lasagna noodles. Use a no sugar added marinara sauce, lean ground beef, and part-skim cheese to clean up the ingredients a bit more.
Stay cool as a cucumber with a fresh, chilled "pasta" salad. It can also be customized to take on favorite seasonings.
1. Shred cucumber with a vegetable peeler to create lengthwise strips.
2. Add cucumber to a large bowl and drizzle olive oil and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
3. Add a little salt, pepper, fresh garlic, red pepper flakes and other preferred seasonings to your liking.
Enjoy as a side dish or transform into a well-balanced meal by complementing with a lean protein source. This may include a baked chicken breast, grilled salmon filet, or roasted chickpeas.
The noodle-like appearance of wakame takes "pasta" on a whole new level.
For a unique low-carb noodle twist, drizzle seaweed with sesame oil, vinegar, and ginger. Bulk up the seaweed with cucumbers, avocados, and green onions. Eat alone or pair with fresh, fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids!