Simply Food: Zucchini pasta salad

\So, I have wanted to make zucchini “pasta” for a long time now. I eat occasionally at this restaurant that serves delicious raw food. Yes, everything is raw and vegan but they have a knack for making it all taste so good.

One of their dishes is zucchini “spaghetti” with tasty creamy sauce. The sauce doesn’t have any cream in it but somehow it tastes creamy. They sell a machine, which turns the zucchini into strips that resemble pasta noodles. I want to buy it but it is just too expensive. Every time I go there, I have a look at the machine and wish I could get it. So, I haven’t been able to try this zucchini pasta myself. Although, I have lots of different ideas for making it. I thought about making it with regular marinara sauce or a creamy alfredo version. I also considered making it with just an olive oil garlic sauce.

Then, last week I read about an affordable way to make the squash noodles. There is a tool called a julienne peeler. That can’t be too expensive, right? Well, it was free for me because as I was relaying this information to my friend and neighbor, she grabbed one out of her kitchen drawer and handed it to me. I was so excited. I looked online too and anyone can buy these and they are pretty affordable.

I waited to try this out at my mom’s house this weekend. We were going to be cooking a big feast for several people over there. My cousins flew out to California from Texas to celebrate their daughter’s fourth birthday. We drove out from Las Vegas to celebrate Jack’s 14th birthday. We made regular burgers, salmon burgers (like the ones I made last week), potato salad, and this “pasta” salad.

The great thing about zucchini noodles is that they aren’t noodles at all but you can treat them like they are. That way, what you make is much more nutritious. You are eating a vegetable rather than a processed food, which is always a healthier alternative.

My ultimate goal is to eat a complete plant-based diet. So, using squash and zucchini instead of pasta is bringing me one step closer to achieving this. I don’t know if I will ever be able to eat this way 100 percent, but I feel better when I make small steps towards doing it more. Also, when I come up with a dish that is just as tasty as the processed food dish that it resembles, I get really excited. This “pasta” salad just so happens to be one of those things.

I stripped the zucchini and yellow squash into noodles and blanched them for four minutes. I wanted them to cook a little but I threw them into ice water to make sure they didn’t get too rubbery. I wanted an al dente texture. I sauted garlic and onions because those taste great with any pasta dish. Since it was a pasta salad, I added diced tomatoes and tons of fresh basil from my mom’s garden. I whipped up an easy red wine vinaigrette for the dressing.

Once everyone sat down with their salmon or beef burgers and scooped up some potato salad and zucchini pasta salad, we all sat around the table together outside. It was a beautiful evening. There are just so many of those in Southern California. I didn’t realize this until I moved away. I was really happy to hear how much people enjoyed the zucchini. I wasn’t sure how it would go over. Not everyone loves vegetables as much as I do. But, I received many compliments and was asked several times how I made it. I took that as a sign that the salad was a success. It really did taste fresh and light.

Layla and Jack shared a big birthday cake and blew out their candles together just as the sun was going down.

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