Pasta Salad Only Gets Better With The Addition Of Zucchini Noodles

zucchini noodle pasta salad
zucchini noodle pasta salad - SUPERGAL/Shutterstock

A quintessential dish for summer lunches, backyard cookouts, and potlucks, pasta salads offer a delectable range of textures and flavors. They feature both tender, chewy cooked ingredients and crunchy raw ingredients bathed in your choice of dressing. If you're looking for a creative, healthy, and versatile ingredient for your next pasta salad recipe, zucchini noodles are the answer.

Also known as zoodles, zucchini noodles offer a fun, spiraled texture that you can use raw or cooked for either a springy bite or a tender, softer consistency. Their subtle, vegetal flavor pairs well with any vegetable, cheese, or salad dressing you add to the pasta salad. Zucchini is also one of the cheapest vegetables you'll find at your grocery store year-round. Furthermore, they're ubiquitous vegetables worldwide, so you know they'll work well with any cuisine, from an Asian noodle salad to a Southwest pasta salad.

You can swap pasta for zucchini noodles for a low-carb, gluten-free pasta salad, or use zucchini noodles in conjunction with pasta to add more depth of texture and a healthy lineup of vitamins and minerals. Zucchini noodles are easy to make using various kitchen tools, but you can also find premade zoodles in the produce section of most grocery stores.

Read more: 44 Types Of Pasta And When You Should Be Using Them

How To Make And Use Zucchini Noodles In Pasta Salad

zucchini noodles with pesto and tomatoes
zucchini noodles with pesto and tomatoes - Viktor Kochetkov/Shutterstock

Making zucchini noodles at home will render the freshest results, and you can use basic equipment to get the job done. That said, mechanized or hand-crank spiralizers are the best tools since they're made for spiralizing vegetables. If you have a kitchenaid mixer, there's a good chance you have a spiralizer attachment. These machines give you the classic coiled, wavy zoodle.

A mandolin or even a potato skin peeler will also work. These two tools require a little more elbow grease, time, and caution, but they're tools most kitchens are likely to have. For a mandoline, you have the advantage of choosing the size of the blade. You can thus make thin, spaghetti-like noodles, thicker fettuccine shapes, or even broad, flat sheets. Whichever method you choose, large zucchinis are ideal for zucchini noodles as they are sturdier and have more surface area to hold onto if you're using a mandolin or peeler.

Cooked and raw zucchini noodles offer their own sets of pros and cons — cooked noodles are prone to becoming mushy but, when they're cooked, they're better pasta alternatives. If you cook zoodles, heating them in the microwave is the most controlled method that'll prevent you from overcooking them. You could also squeeze and drain them through a cheesecloth before cooking them. On the other hand, raw zoodles are light, will hold their shape, and soak up the salad dressing more easily than cooked zucchini noodles.

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