Parents Need to Eat Too

No-Cook Pasta Sauce #1: Angel Hair Zucchini

No-Cook Pasta Sauce #1: Angel Hair Zucchini

I’m on deadline with a bunch of projects this week, so I’ll keep it short and simple.

It’s hot. I don’t want to cook, especially because I’m testing at least two desserts a day for the Easy Indulgences chapter of the cookbook. So I don’t cook. Well, I cook a little—just a single pot, for pasta—but I’m mostly out of the kitchen while that’s happening, away from the heat. The two no-cook sauces I’m going to show you this week are both prepared before you ever turn on the water, so it’s totally possible to stay cool and content the entire time you’re making dinner. Yes, I know. It’s a miracle.

This first recipe, Angel Hair Zucchini, was inspired by a winner over on Food 52, Zucchagetti. They took zucchini and turned it into long strands akin to spaghetti, paired with a creamy dressing, for a side. I borrowed their zucchini-prep technique and used it for a main course dish.

Note: This works a whole lot better if you’ve got a mandoline. It doesn’t need to be a fancy one—my Benriner is on Amazon for about twenty bucks. With a mandoline, the prep is about ten minutes. Without one, you’re looking at more like a half-hour—you can use a vegetable peeler to make long ribbons, then stack the ribbons and cut them into strands, or you can do it entirely by hand.

If you do use a mandoline, watch your fingers! I had a lot of trouble using the hand guard with my zucchini—it kept breaking off chunks—so I just gave up and used my bare hands. Mistake.

Angel Hair Zucchini
Serves 2, but doubles easily
Cooking Time: 60 minutes (20 minutes active)
Weight Watchers: One serving is 7 Points

3 small zucchini, trimmed and julienned into long strands
4 ounces angel hair pasta
1/4 cup basil leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

About an hour before you plan to eat, julienne the zucchini and put it in a colander. Toss with 1 teaspoon salt, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, until much of the liquid has been drawn out.

About 25 minutes before you plan to eat, put a large pot of salted water on to boil—cover it to speed things up. When it boils, cook pasta according to package directions.

While it’s cooking, lay a kitchen towel on the counter. Take handfuls of the zucchini and give them a good squeeze over the sink to wring out as much liquid as possible. Spread the zucchini out on the towel, and roll it up like a jellyroll. Squeeze over the sink to remove even more moisture. Unroll over a large serving bowl, and let all the zucchini fall into it.

Next, chiffonade the basil leaves: Stack them up, roll them into a cigar, and cut as thin as possible. Unroll and you’ll have beautiful slivers. Put these into the bowl (save a handful for sprinkling on top, if you want it to be pretty).

Before draining the pasta, reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking water. When it’s drained, add the pasta to the bowl. Pour on the olive oil, lemon juice, and Parm, and toss well (I use tongs for this). Add splashes of the reserved cooking water if it looks too dry, until the pasta glistens.

Serve topped with additional Parm.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. mmm, looks delicious!

  2. How do you think this would do without the angel hair as a gluten-free dish? Too gloopy?

  3. @Frugal, I think it might be. Take a look at the Food52 link, which uses the same zucchini approach with a creamy dressing–I'd bet that makes a huge difference.

  4. Aw, your poor finger – the dish looks delicious!

  5. OH, gosh, this looks fabulous. I'll be giving this a go soon. And 7 points per portion is a total bargain. On the subject of WW, am just about to head to the US (from the UK) for a month to stay with my in-laws and was considering braving a meeting there, just so I can stay on track. However, I have a feeling points are calculated quite differently – and, of course, we use metric weights and measures for food here. Just looking at the recipe again, I *think* I might have calculated that as around 5 points per serving… if you get a second and can possibly be bothered would you mind breaking it down for me? Best wishes, Liz

  6. Liz, good for you, attending meetings while away! I did that years ago, when I was losing my 100 lbs. Sooo different, to go in another country.

    The recipe breaks down (approx) as follows:

    2 oz pasta: 4 pts
    1/2 tablespoon oil: 2 pts
    2 tablespoons parm: 1 pt

    I use the Recipe Builder on the site, so the numbers up there are guesstimates. (FYI I first made it without any oil at all, and it came out to 6 pts. It was a bit too dry, though, so I added the oil back in.)

  7. You should invest in a kevlar glove for using with your mandoline…. it protects my fingers and I never have to use that annoying hand-guard again!

  8. Thanks so much, Debbie – that is interesting, there is a little difference. I calculate 50g pasta as 2.5pts, half a tablespoon of oil as 1.5… and I think the parmesan would be about the same – 10g = 1pt. Oh, well, I'll just have to approximate as well as I can!!

  9. What an amazing dish! Looks scrumptious. Never thought of the zucchini addition. Thanks!

  10. I'm having trouble cooking too–it is hot. Plus, I have a new stove I'm working with and it doesn't heat very quickly, urgh! I'll have to try this. I love fresh basil in anything and paired with zucchini and parmesan, yummy.

  11. this looks so good! i've barely eaten any zucchini this summer. strange. this looks like the perfect recipe to rectify that. can't wait to try. thanks for sharing!

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