It’s Secret Recipe Club time again, and this month I’ve been paired with Susan of The Wimpy Vegetarian. At first, I thought it might take me a while to decide on which of her recipes to cook but as it turns out, the choice took all of 30 seconds. Her Spiralized Zucchini: Zucchetti with Garlic, Tomatoes and Corn immediately won my heart.
Better yet, it became an immediate hit as soon as I served it. Both my husband and I scarfed down our portions and smiled as we licked out lips, glad that summer zucchini, tomatoes and corn will be around for a while, so I can make Spiralized Zucchini with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Corn again – and again.
My beloved is what I’ll politely term a “gluten lover.” He has never met a type of pasta he hasn’t enjoyed and if a lunch or dinner meal doesn’t include bread or pasta (or preferably both), he looks at me with an expression that borders on the pathetic as he searches around the kitchen for a scrap of baguette, bagel, or even matzo. (Good heavens, man – it’s July, what’s with the matzo and peanut butter?)
I tell you about my beloved’s love for gluten because I gave him a bowl of this spiralized zucchini dish and didn’t tell him what was in it. He said “Yummm, this is great pasta.” When I said the dish contains no pasta, he said “Wait, you mean there is no gluten in this?” Horrified, he continue to eat it and went back for a second helping.
That tells you all almost all you need to know about how good this dish is. But I couldn’t resist trying the ultimate test – what is it like as leftovers? The answer is that it tastes different cold, spicier and not as pasta-like, but just as fabulous.
Part of the reason I immediately chose this recipe from among the many wonderful ones on The Wimpy Vegetarian is that I bought a spiralizer a few months ago and had not yet been courageous enough to try it. As ridiculous as it sounds, I bought the newest, biggest one (on an incredible sale, so it wasn’t much more expensive than the simple, small ones) and when it came, I was so intimidated that I tucked it away. Four months later, I was plagued with guilt, but not yet motivated. Then I saw this recipe and knew that it could be my vehicle for spiralizer salvation. And it was. The recipe is incredibly easy and now I’m over my fear as I contemplate how I could experiment with this basic template for many more spiralized meals to come.
Although I wasn’t intentionally seeking to wean my husband from gluten, his surprise that zucchini could be such a great substitute for spaghetti made me smile. I think our experience will make Susan smile too.
Her own desire to eat a more plant-based diet slowly converted her husband from a meat and more meat kind of guy to one who eagerly helps himself to her vegetarian offerings. She is a trained chef who retains a home cook’s touch and sensibility. While her site is vegetarian (or at least when chicken is specified in a recipe, it’s optional rather than being the focus of the dish), Susan isn’t doctrinaire about her choice to eat a plant-based diet. Whether you like vegetables as main courses, or prefer them as sides, you’ll find lots to love among her offerings.
My heart started pounding when I saw Braised Fennel and Endive Gratin and Moroccan Orange Salad with Quinoa looked pretty wonderful too. By all means, peruse her sweets too. I’m definitely trying her 5-minute, 5-ingredient Strawberry Sherbet. And she makes a mean cherry cobbler. Susan’s site includes a whole section on high altitude baking for those of you who are “up there” and need always to convert baking recipes meant for those of us at or near sea level.
Just in case you wondered, I haven’t forgotten the recipe.
Here is Susan’s original version, and my adaptation (below). This recipe cooks quickly once everything is chopped and ready.That makes Spiralized Zucchini with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Corn a natural for the mise en place style I use with stir-fry. If you put everything (in the order you’ll use it) right up next to the pan, there is no hunting around for the next ingredient.
Spiralized Zucchini with Pesto, Tomatoes, and Corn
Servings – 2 medium or 3 small portions
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium shallot, minced
- ¼ of a Serrano pepper (hotter than a jalapeno), seeded and minced
- 2 tablespoons easy homemade or store-bought pesto
- Corn cut from 1 ear of corn (about a heaping ¾ cup of raw kernels)
- ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt + freshly ground pepper
- 3 cups spiralized zucchini (2-3 medium zucchini)
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tablespoons grated Romano or Parmesan cheese + extra for serving on the side
- Spiralizer (I used my fancy schmantzy one, but a simple and inexpensive one will do just fine)
- Paper towels
- Large sauté pan
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Cutting board
- Grater (if cheese not already grated)
- Wooden or silicone spatula or similar implement for stirring.
- After spiralizing the zucchini, press it in several sheets of paper towel to press out as much moisture as you can. To really go to town with this step, do it twice. First, press out moisture before cutting up everything else, then go back and do it a second time just before you begin cooking. The more moisture that you pull out, the more the zucchini retains a pasta-like consistency.
- Cut the spirals into roughly 3-inch long pieces. No need to be obsessive, but if you don’t cut the spirals (which are typically 10-12 inches as they come out of the spiralizer), they are cumbersome to eat.
- Heat the oil in the pan over medium heat and sauté the minced shallot and Serrano pepper for about 5 minutes, until the shallot is lightly brown. Add the corn, salt and pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for another 30-seconds to 1 minute.
- Add the pesto and the spiralized zucchini. Mix the ingredients and sauté them for about 2-3 minutes, then turn off the heat, toss in the cherry tomatoes and cheese. Serve immediately with extra grated cheese if desired.