Prep time 20 mins | Cooking time 0 Mins | Serves 4-6
This vibrant green “spaghetti” will surely brighten up your dinnertime this spring. Photos Nicholas Rider.
Hi foodies, it’s been a while since my last recipe post. I’ve been juggling a new job while running a few cooking workshops at some universities in Sydney. The most recent of these being a series with a new student group at Macquarie University called Locavores MQ. The team have transformed a weekly produce market into a thriving non-for-profit business. The staff are student volunteers who encourage the staff and students of Macquarie to learn more about where their food comes from. The produce, provided through Harvest Hub, is sourced almost entirely from farms within the Sydney basin area.
Each week I’ve worked with the group to present simple, seasonal recipes that not only taste delicious, but are packed with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Last week I cooked one of my favourite go-to recipes for when you need dinner on the table in a hurry. It’s my Raw Zucchini “Spaghetti” with Kale and Coriander Pesto.
You may have heard of the Raw Food Diet. Raw diets retain all, or at least most, of the nutrients in fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and legumes, which are usually lost through heat application. I have a secret though The main reason why I absolutely adore raw cooking is that the meals are a lot simpler to prepare because there is virtually no ‘cooking’ involved. So not only will your food taste absolutely delicious, you could save countless hours slaving away in the kitchen on a busy weekday.
This zucchini spaghetti recipe is the perfect example of a great raw food meal because the spaghetti is made from strips of zucchini. You can use a food processor with a slicing attachment, or one of those funky ‘zoodle slicers’ where you place the zucchini into the barrel and twist the handle to produce curly strands of vegetable pasta. At home though I have neither of these so I simply slice the zucchini into thin strips, or use a speed peeler to shave ribbons of zucchini to form a pappardelle shape.
The first time I ever made this dish was for a brunch catchup with friends before a great day at the beach. Many of them were surprised when they realised they weren’t actually eating pasta. That’s the great thing about raw zucchini is that it perfectly mimics the al dente texture of pasta. Though basil is the most common herb in pesto, I love the pungent flavour of coriander leaves which contrast the bitterness of the raw kale and provides a burst of freshness on the palate.
Something I discovered at my most recent demo on Thursday is the addition of garlic pangrattato to the dish. It sounds fancy but pangrattato refers to a simple condiment of peasant-origin (like all great foods) used instead of expensive cheeses like parmesan or pecorino. The Italians took stale bread, turned it into crumbs and fried it with olive oil, garlic and herbs. These crumbs, sprinkled on the zucchini spaghetti provide crunch and extra flavour. You could think of it as powdered garlic bread. If you are gluten-free you could make the crumbs from gluten-free bread, use chopped almonds or pepitas or simply leave out the crumbs altogether.
For the “Spaghetti”
- 500g zucchini
For the Pesto
- 150mL olive oil, plus 4 tbsp extra
- 1 cup firmly packed kale leaves, washed and dried
- 1 cup firmly packed coriander leaves
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
For the Garlic Pangrattato
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 100g breadcrumbs
Make the ‘spaghetti’. If you happen to have a vegetable noodle tool here is the chance to use it. Alternatively you may find that your food processor has a Julienne setting which will allow you to cut the zucchini into thin ribbons, or you could use a mandolin slicer. Have no fear if you don’t have any of these. The way I do it at home is by hand. Use a potato peeler to shave ribbons from the zucchini. Then gather a few ribbons in a stack and carefully cut into strips using a small sharp knife. Place the ribbons into a large mixing bowl and set aside while you make the pesto
Make the pesto. Place the oil, coriander and kale, garlic and ¼ cup water into a blender and pulse for 5 – 10 seconds for a chunky pesto or blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste and blitz until combined.
Make the pangrattato. Peel the garlic then chop finely. Place into a frying pan with the breadcrumbs and 4tbsp oil and toss over a medium heat until golden. Season to taste.
Toss the ‘spaghetti’. Place the zucchini strips in a bowl and add enough pesto to lightly coat the strands. Toss to coat. Divide among serving plates and serve sprinkled with the pangrattato.
- You can also serve the “spaghetti” with chopped nuts and a drizzle of oil if you like.
- Don’t have coriander or kale? You could use a combo of any soft herbs or leafy greens including parsley, spinach and basil.
- Any remaining pesto can be stored in a screw top glass jar with a 1cm layer of olive oil poured over to prevent oxidisation.
Happy Cooking and Keep Smiling,