My husband’s new favorite thing since we had to cut out pasta, is zoodles. I was pretty surprised considering he doesn’t like zucchini… but I’ll take it! I LOOOOVE pasta- with marinara, alfredo, vodka sauce, or vinaigrette in pasta salad- just yum. So I’ve been trying a few different thing to fill the pasta-sized hole in my heart, and zoodles have worked pretty darn well.
The first recipe I found for zoodles was from OnceAMonthMeals, which is an amazing resource as someone who likes to make freezer meals. I had a membership back in 2012 as way to cut down on eating out when I was tired after school and work, and I love the menus they have and the overall sticker/prep guide/shopping list is amazing if you have no idea how to start cooking multiple meals in a couple days. But why I went to OAMM first is because I figured if I’m going to spiralize some zoodles, I’ll do a big batch and freeze them down. Since it’s a water-laden veggie, I knew this may require some preparation so it wouldn’t turn to mush when it was thawed.
I definitely suggest salting the noodles thoroughly and placing it in a mesh strainer over a bowl to get rid of some of the excess water even if you aren’t freezing them. First off, once the noodles are a bit dehydrated, they can absorb some of the sauce they go into which help give them flavor. Two, you avoid the potential mushy mess they’ll become if you put them into a sauce without dehydrating them. Three, said mushy mess can be disastrous in a cream based sauce like alfredo, so just trust me and take the time to do it! If you need to speed up the process, you can lay them in a single layer on paper towels, salt them, then place another layer of paper towels on top, replacing as they soak through with the moisture.
You may also notice the shirataki noodles here! I didn’t use them in this recipe (make a chicken noodle soup at the same time as this). They’re also very good for ‘noodle’ texture and absorb-ability, however you have to rinse them to remove the ‘fishy’ smell, then cook in a plain skillet with no oil/water to remove their water content. You can find these in the tofu aisle of places like Star Market and Whole Foods!
Now that you’ve gotten your salted zoodles, you can freeze any extra by putting parchment paper on a metal baking tray/cookie sheet, and placing zoodles in a single layer across the paper. Flash freeze them by placing the tray in the freezer for 30+ minutes until they’ve frozen. You can then place them in a tubberware or freezer bag, limiting any empty space or air in the bag to avoid freezer burn.
In this recipe, we’ll directly put the zoodles in the marinara to cook, but if you are doing a recipe without a sauce, I suggest boiling some chicken stock and cooking the noodles in that for 2-3min. Any longer and again, you may wind up with mush. I also don’t add any salt to my sauces when adding zoodles, and would suggest using low sodium bacon if you want to add bacon to a zoodles recipe.
As for the chicken, this is literally just butter, parmesan, and a couple tablespoons of panko for crunch. If you want to go full keto and increase the fiber content, you can use flax seed instead in a 1:1 ratio to the parmesan. Considering the overall carb count, I kept the panko in.
Finally, I tend to play with my marinara every time I make it, so this is what I decided to throw in this time to make it a bit spicy.
3-4 medium sized zucchinis
2 tbsp salt
2 large chicken breasts, sliced in half
3 tbsp melted or softened butter
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp panko crumbs
1/4 tsp pepper or to taste
1 14oz can of tomato sauce
1 6oz can of tomato paste
1 cup water
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
3 tbsp Italian seasoning
1 tbsp garlic, crushed
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
2 tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste)
1/4 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
- Set your oven to 375C
- Make noodle shapes from your zucchinis using a spiralizer or a cheese grater.
- Place zoodles into fine mesh strainer or lay flat in a single layer on paper towels.
- Salt zoodles liberally, turning them by hand in the mesh strainer to ensure the zoodles are coated. If using paper towels, cover the zoodles with another layer of paper towels.
- Let water drain from the zoodles for ~30min in the strainer, or ~15-20min using the paper towel method. You can speed the process by gently pushing the noodles against the strainer/paper towels. The zoodles should look thinner at this point and feel like al dente pasta when you bit one.
- Next, combine the parmesan, panko, and pepper into a bowl and mix so each component is well distributed in the mix.
- Cut your chicken breasts in half so your have two thinner filets per breast.
- Coat the chicken in the melted or softened butter.
- Roll your chicken in the parmesan/panko mix and place on a parchment lined baking tray
- Bake the chicken for 20min, flip the pieces and cook for another 15-20min depending on the thickness. The coating should be deep brown at the edges when they’re ready.
- While the chicken cooks and the zoodles dehydrate, mix all the marinara ingredients together in a pot and set to a low-medium heat while stirring occasionally.
- When the chicken is ready, add zoodles to the marinara and stir. let zoodles warm through for 2-5min, then serve.Viola! This took me about 45min to make and it’s SUPER satisfying!
Troubleshooting:My zoodles are mushy!
You should salt the zoodles thoroughly to dehydrate them, to the point they no longer feel wet or slimy but more like a damp cardboard. This just tastes time, so don’t rush it! Also, the leftover will be a bit more mushy but they do take on more of the marinara flavor, so it’s a give and take.
My chicken wasn’t cooked through!
Obviously everyone’s ovens will be different, so you may need to increase the temperature 25-50C if you do not see the coating on the chicken turning a light golden color after 20min. Also, my chicken breasts were 0.5-1in thick after cutting them in half, so anything thicker will take more time and you risk bruning the coating. Make sure your chicken is no bigger than 1inch high from the pan for optimal cooking.