Zucchini Noodles with Almond Pesto

Zucchini Noodles with Almond Pesto Recipe Image

It’s almost comical how good my mood is today, thanks to the weather. I think I need to move somewhere warm, because it must be nice to feel like this ALL the time. Then again, I suppose when there is no brutal winter to compare it to, spring isn’t really much of a phenomenon. Anyway, I think we’re in the home stretch here, fellow New Yorkers. We’ll be park loungin’ and rooftop dinin’ in no time.

My brother came over for dinner last night. We’re fortunate to live close to each other, but sometimes traveling from the Upper East Side to Brooklyn feels like a real trek. So, I lure him with food. Our dinners usually consist of him telling me tales of staying out until 4:30 in the morning, while I talk about mornings at the park with Lucy. I swear we share the same genes.

While he’ll pretty much eat anything, “healthy” isn’t exactly the priority when it comes to food. It has to taste good. Something that sounds delicious to me may sound straight up weird to him. Read: kale. Cooking a meal that works for both us (is delicious and healthy) can be tricky. I find the simple solution is just to add cheese to everything.

Kidding. Sort of. Not kidding at all. Here’s what I mean.

We all want to feel good right? So I think advocating a healthy diet for others, or at least introducing them to the world of wellness can be helpful, so long as it’s not done forcefully. There are two points to keep in mind.

1. Ingredients matter

The biggest thing I try to emphasize is that quality ingredients are key. Eat cheese. Eat meat. Eat butter. Eat bread. Get crazy. Eat whatever you want. You do you. You just have to choose ingredients wisely. There’s a difference between organic, grass-fed meat and a Big Mac, between organic whole milk and low-fat dairy products, and between a freshly-baked loaf of rye and Wonderbread. The closer you can get to the source and the further away from processed, the better when it comes to food. Cheese is not the enemy, it’s the artificial, comes-in-a-can, cheese-like substance that we want to stay away from.

2. Add in the good stuff

We’ve talked a lot about crowding out, because it’s super important. The more we add in the good stuff (vegetables, fruits, whole grains, etc.), the more we push out the bad stuff. When we combine nutrient-dense foods with high-quality, delicious ingredients, we’re more likely to enjoy the foods we need more of. And we all could us more vegetables, yes?

Back to dinner last night: I was at it again with the spiralizer. I freakin’ love that thing. I used a really simple recipe adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Smitten Kitchen. I totally pulled a Ferris Bueller a few months ago to meet the author, Deb Perelman, when she was doing a cooking demo at the Food52 Holiday Pop-Up store (#yolo) and it was the best decision, ever. She’s just the best. Anyway, I put Joe to work last night, and we made zucchini noodles. The original recipe calls for zucchini “ribbons,” which you can easily make without a spiralizer using a vegetable peeler. You guys know how I feel about zucchini noodles/ribbons, we don’t need to go down that path. Just try them, okay? It’s typically a summer vegetable, but sometimes I like a lighter side to go with a heavier main, and I just wasn’t feeling a regular salad.

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Spiralizing 101

The real star of this particular recipe is the almond pesto. It’s SO easy and delicious. You just pop a few simple ingredients into a food processor or blender, then toss with the zoodles and you’re done.

Zucchini Noodles with Almond Pesto
Ingredients

1/2 cup almonds, toasted and cooled

1/4 cup grated (high quality) Parmesan cheese

1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed

Pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/3 cup olive oil

2 pounds medium zucchini, trimmed (about 3-4 medium)

Method

Grind almonds, Parmesan, garlic and red pepper flakes in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Add the lemon juice, salt and olive oil and pulse a few times until incorporated. Pour the dressing into a large salad bowl.
Use a spiralizer to create zucchini noodles, or peel the zucchini with a vegetable peeler or mandolin to create ribbons. Add to the dressing-coated bowl. Toss gently (your hands work best) attempting to coat the zucchini as evenly as possible. I topped with more Parmesan and slivered almonds and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Serve at room temperature.
I served this with a pesto pizza (we’ll save that recipe for another day), but would be great with chicken or fish.
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Bridget

Author Bridget

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