We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The All So Wonderful and Versatile Zucchini Noodles and Spiralizer Magic

by Michelle

   "Last night we had three small zucchini for dinner that were grown within fifty feet of our back door. I estimate they cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $371.49 each." ~ Andy Rooney


   In my circle of friends, I am the self-proclaimed Queen of the Kitchen Gadgets. If she lived closer, my only rival would be my sister, Linda. We each own espresso makers, waffle makers, pasta machines, mandolines, KitchenAids, food processors, electric water kettles, rice cookers, pressure cookers, LaCloches and Vitamixes. I have the electric panini press, while she is the proud owner of a large fermentation crock (which I don't have yet, but will own at some point in the future). Just when I think I don't need one more gadget, except the fermentation crock (of course), I stumble across a spiral vegetable slicer, and think, "How cool is that?"
   According to the promotional materials, "the little machine that could", which is what I'm now fondly calling it, will produce curly fries, vegetable noodles, shoe strings, as well as, vegetable ribbons and garlands. The crafty corporate marketer had me at curly fries. For anyone living by the tenants of a gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or paleo lifestyle—a Spiralizer is certainly a necessity.
   As an appliance discovery, I'm a little late to the game, even if I do call myself the Gadet Queen. Some casual surfing on the internet unveiled a blogger, Ali Mafucchi with a site dedicated entirely to the glory of the spiral vegetable slicer. Ali appropriately has a marketing friendly name, a little play on words, called Inspiralized. My compadre in blogging, who is doing her best to whip up an Inspiralized Movement, also has a pending cookbook and a corporate sponsor.
   Ali estimates that she spiralizes 3 to 5 times a day to make mealtimes more fun and healthful. While I'm nowhere near Ali's frequency rate, I have found that I'm spiralizing several times a week and that the gadget has found a home on my kitchen counter. I recently began adding curly carrot and cucumber noodles as refreshing and crunchy garnishes for Asian entrees such as Sweet and Tangy Chicken, Chicken Teriyaki and Kung Pao Chicken.

Sauté brined shrimp until just cooked, remove from pan and set aside.
Sauté cherry tomatoes for a minute until hot, but not blistering, add to reserved shrimp.
Lightly sauté the noodles in the pan for 3 to 4 minutes, then toss with basil pesto to evenly distribute the sauce. With a light hand, carefully mix in shrimp and tomatoes and serve.
Garnish with shredded Parmesan and chopped toasted walnuts, if you like.
   After I submitted my order for the machine on-line, I giddily shared the news with Linda. It wasn't long before she bought one, too. Linda even beat me to the punch, making zucchini noodles and curly fries before I even had the chance to open the box that sat ever so patiently on a dining room chair, waiting to rock my world.
   I will report with confidence that this little machine generates lots of fun in the kitchen. I kid you not, it will have you thinking about preparing vegetables and meals in a whole new way. The Spiralizer really shines with the following fruits and vegetables: apples, beets, broccoli, butternut squash, cabbage, carrots, celeriac, chayote, Daikon radish, eggplant, English cucumbers, jicama, kohlrabi, onions, plantains, potatoes, and yams. While your creative juices percolate, the following is a recipe that will help get you on your way to eating fruits and vegetables in new and interesting ways.


Zucchini Noodles

   Remember the salad spinners of days of yore? I still have one and it is perfect for storing the zucchini noodles, if you have room in your fridge, because the noodles can continue to drain as they rest. The prepared noodles can sit in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, which is great for make-ahead recipe planning.

Ingredients:
6 medium zucchini equals approximately 1-1/2 pounds prepared noodles
sea salt

Special Equipment:
Paderno Spiralizer


Procedure: 
1. Press the suction base of the spiralizer to secure the unit to the work surface. The Spiralizer ships with three blades:

A) The Shredder Blade, the one with the smaller holes produces thin spaghetti-like strands
B) The Chipper Blade (no Fargo jokes, please), for medium-thick continuous cuts
C) The Straight Blade, for ribbon-like cuts

1. I prefer to use the Chipper Blade to make thicker strands of zucchini noodles. Slice off the ends of the zucchini. Push one end of a zucchini against the prongs and push the slider plate forward until the vegetable is flush with the blade. Turn the crank, while steadily pushing the vegetable forward, to make fresh green noodles.
2. The Spiralizer will produce rather long strands of noodles, and while I can appreciate that long noodles represent long life in the far east, I find them too difficult to work with in a saute pan. I clip the noodles about every 12 inches as they come out of the Spiralizer's blades into the colander.
3. Once all the zucchinis are processed, voila, you are done. You can use the noodles as is. However, vegetables have very high water content and zucchini are no exception. Once you add zucchini noodles to a hot sauce, be aware that the noodles will seep water and dilute the sauce. Sometimes this is fine, if you are adding the noodles to soup; no big deal. If you're adding raw noodles to a marinara sauce, the result might not be so great. If you want the noodles to lose the water ahead of cooking, take the extra time to dehydrate the noodles.

To dehydrate the noodles, sprinkle sea salt and toss the noodles to evenly distribute.
4. To dehydrate the noodles: Sprinkle the noodles in the colander with about 2 teaspoons of salt and toss well with your fingers. Be sure to have a rimmed plate or bowl underneath the colander because the noodles will release about a cup of water. I let the noodles sit for about 30 to 60 minutes, depending upon what else is capturing my attention. Toss the noodles every once in awhile. Rinse the noodles thoroughly to wash away the salt and shake vigorously to expel as much water as possible. You can dry the noodles with a towel, if you like, but I didn't find the extra step necessary.

Let the noodles sit at room temperature for about 30 to 45 minutes, then rinse thoroughly.
4. At this point, you can proceed with the final preparation of your desired salad or entree, or you can cover the noodles and store in the refrigerator for up to four days.

P.S. My favorite way to prepare the zoodles is to quickly blanch the curly strands in salted boiling water for 60 seconds. Drain the noodles and toss with a little olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Six medium zucchini produced 1-1/2 pounds of prepared noodles.

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