Pasta is so not what it used to be. Semolina? For adventurous eating amateurs. These days, you’ve got so many more incarnations of pasta made from quinoa, rice, kamut, spelt, and here, it’s the green summer squash we all love called zucchini. It’s a way to revamp your pasta dinner into something healthier, lighter, and just as delicious. You don’t have to be on a Paleo or low-carb diet to enjoy it either. With one simple tool, you can turn zucchini (and other vegetables) into perfect pasta-like strands. From there, add any flavors or sauces you like. Here’s how to do it:

What You Need

A julienne peeler, sharp paring knife, or a spiralizer.

The Technique

Using a peeler or paring knife:

Williams-Sonoma

Carefully peel the skin and first layer of the zucchini off in long, even strands. Discard the inner seedy core.

Using a spiralizer:

BuzzFeed

Feed the zucchini into the spiralizer. Turn the crank until the entire zucchini comes out in ribbons.

Once you’ve made your zucchini strands, you can cook them or leave them raw. To cook them, either blanch them for 30 seconds in boiling water or microwave them for one minute. Squeeze out the excess moisture afterwards. Then top them with your favorite pasta sauce: marinara, pesto, or olive oil and cheese are excellent candidates. If you don’t have one already, consider one of these top five rated spiralizers.

For inspiration, try these recipe combinations:

1. Romesco Garlic Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles

Chowhound

Romesco sauce is different than regular marinara because besides tomatoes, garlic, and onions, there are toasted and blended almonds in there, plus chile powder and paprika for a nutty, smoky flavor. Get our Romesco Garlic Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles recipe.

2. Linguine with Squash Noodles and Pine Nuts

Chowhound

You don’t always have to totally swap all the noodles with squash noodles. You can switch out half of the wheat pasta. Pine nuts add a creamy texture yet at the same time a crunchiness that goes well. Get our Linguine with Squash Noodles and Pine Nuts recipe.

3. Burst Tomato and Zucchini Spaghetti with Avocado Sauce

Pinch of Yum

Those ruby fruits explode and there’s a confetti of flavor all up in this pasta dish that’s not really pasta, but spiralized noodles, all mixed up in a creamy avocado sauce. Get the recipe here.

4. Zucchini Pad Thai Noodles

White On Rice Couple

The classic Thai dish gets a summery makeover with zucchini noodles. Bean sprouts and roasted peanuts give the dish crunch. Top it all off with shrimp for a full, satisfying dinner. Get the recipe here.

5. Chicken Parmigiana with Zucchini Noodles

Take a classic Italian dish and turn it around (and around and around) with a spiralizer. It’s a healthier version of your favorite comfort food. Get our Chicken Parmigiana with Zucchini Noodles recipe.

6. Mint and Mango Zucchini Spaghetti

Green Kitchen Stories

Light and healthy, this recipe uses raw zucchini in place of spaghetti. The clever creamy sauce is made from puréed mango and mint with a hint of fresh chili for heat. Get the recipe here.

7. Zucchini Noodles with Pesto

Two Peas and Their Pod

Pesto lovers, take note. Toss raw zucchini noodles with a bright, fresh pesto and some ripe cherry tomatoes for a perfect no-cook summertime lunch. Get the recipe here.

8. Noodleless Zucchini Lasagna

Chowhound

Turn an indulgent, rib-sticking winter dish into warm-weather dinner. The recipe swaps the wide noodles for strips of zucchini. Cottage cheese gives the filling a rich creaminess and you’ll add capers and red pepper flakes for heat and acid. Get our Noodleless Zucchini Lasagna recipe.

9. Zucchini Quinoa Bake

Sugar Free Mom

You might not think of zucchini as comfort food, but think again when you make it into fake-out fantastic baked pasta like this. Cheesy quinoa mixed with noodles and topped with a little Parmesan to form a crust make this a comfort side dish like no other. Get the recipe here.

10. Spiralized Vegetable Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Jessica Gavin

Roasted chickpeas gives you more filling protein and crunch too. You can spice up the legumes with the soft centers when roasting as you wish. Then there’s the luscious avocado-lemon dressing, brightened even more with fresh cilantro. Get the recipe here.

Head image: Eat with Tom.

Original article by Posie Harwood by July 9, 2015; updated article by Amy Sowder August 18, 2016.

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