April 19, 2013. It’s been a week full of tragedy and fear. My heart aches for the families of everyone hurt or killed in Boston and Texas, and my reaction to everything that’s happened (and continues to happen) is to plant myself in front of the news in search of the answers to “What?” and “Why?” It’s not a healthy response in a number of ways. Seeing the number of mistakes that the media has made, I’m becoming convinced that it’s probably better to check the news only once a day to avoid all the speculation and outright errors. And on a personal level, being holed up in front of a TV or computer screen has made me more sedentary than usual and less inclined to pry myself away and create a new recipe.
So it was lunchtime yesterday before I was finally able to drag myself off the couch and back into what I call “The Voisin Test-Kitchen.” I wanted something fresh and cold and under 200 calories, so I came up with this pasta salad that doesn’t use pasta.
When it comes to low-calorie pasta alternatives, I’ve come to rely on two options: packaged shirataki noodles (made from a type of yam) and strands of raw zucchini made with a spiralizer. Of the two, I prefer the zucchini because it’s cheap, it’s unprocessed, it tastes better, and it has a less “gummy worm” texture. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can get a similar effect by using a mandolin to shred the zukes or you can make “ribbons” using an ordinary vegetable peeler.
Though it has only 116 calories, this salad is higher in fat than most of my others because of the peanut butter and sesame oil. I’ve used the very minimum I could while still maintaining the delicious flavor of spicy Asian peanut sauces. If you’re watching your daily fat intake, you might want to eat it on a day when you’re not consuming other sources of fat. But if you’re looking for something light yet flavorful, do give it a try.
Zucchini “Noodles” with Sesame-Peanut Sauce
Spiralized zucchini stands in for pasta in this ultra-lite dish, while peanut butter, garlic, ginger, and a touch of sesame oil create a burst of flavor. Make it more filling by adding a legume such as edamame or chickpeas or cubes of baked tofu.
- 3 small zucchini (about 16 ounces)
- 1/2 red bell pepper, shredded or julienned
- 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce, gluten-free tamari, or coconut aminos
- 1 to 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sriracha or other chile sauce or red pepper to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (see note in nutrition data below.)
- 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- Wash the zucchini well and trim off their ends. Use a spiralizer or a mandolin to turn the zucchini into “noodles.” Line a large serving bowl with paper towels or a clean tea towel. Place the zucchini noodles in the bowl along with the red bell pepper.
- In a small bowl, whisk the peanut butter with 1/2 tablespoon of water and all remaining ingredients. If the mixture is hard to combine, add up to another 1/2 tablespoon of water, but be careful not to make the sauce too runny.
- Remove the towels from under the zucchini noodles. Add the sauce and stir well to coat the noodles completely. Serve right away. (Leftovers can be refrigerated, but water from the zucchini may seep into the sauce, making it pool in the bottom of the bowl; stir well before serving.)
Preparation time: 20 minute(s) | Cooking time: 0 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 2
Nutrition (per serving): 116 calories, 52 calories from fat, 5.7g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 237.5mg sodium, 692mg potassium, 12.3g carbohydrates, 3.8g fiber, 5.8g sugar, 5.5g protein. (Note: The 1/4 teaspoon of sesame oil per serving adds substantial flavor and only 10 calories and 1.25 grams of fat, but you can reduce it by half if necessary.)
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