Zucchini Ribbons. The Natural Gluten-Free Pasta

I’m on a diet. Cue the violin.

Words like crispy, confit, and second helping, have been replaced with gentler words such as steamed, skim and, on the side.
I’ve been playing around with preparing low calorie snacks and meals utilizing as many vegetables I can get my hands on – in ways that are interesting and flavourful.
Take the zucchini, one of the stars of fall harvest season, before they get out of hand in terms of size.
I’ve devised a “pasta” dish – and I”m sure I’m not the first to try this – by using a wide bladed vegetable peeler to create wide strips, like pappardelle.
Run the blade firmly down the length of a peeled zucchini, until you hit the seeded area, and then turn and repeat on another side, and so forth, until you have yourself a bunch of wonderful looking “noodles.” (The zucchini you have left behind can be grated for soups or picadillo).
Rinse in cold water making sure they don’t stick together and start preparing the sauce.
Freshly chopped tomatoes are the base with capers, garlic, basil and one red hot chilie pepper added in for flavour. I’ve used just tomatoes and capers with great success, so the garlic, basil and chile were a last minute experiment. Hopefully, you’ll create your own experiments.

Saute the garlic in a 1/2 Tablespoon of olive oil, because non-stick, non-fat spray is totally useless.

Add the tomatoes, capers and chilie pepper and saute until the tomatoes release their juices. Simmer until almost all the juices are evaporated but the tomatoes still keep a bit of shape. Check the seasoning.


Run the “noodles” through your salad spinner to dry and toss into the sauce.

Add basil and toss the zucchini around until it collapses and takes to the sauce. You don’t want mushy noodles.
Plate up and sprinkle with an angel’s portion of grated parmesan.
It’s filling, kind of good looking, tasty and nutritious, but, I must admit, it’s a little boring.
Through boredom comes innovation, and low-fat plain yogurt took on a whole new profile when I drained all the water out of it.
Line a sieve with cheesecloth, add yogurt and let drain over a bowl. What you end up with is a thick and cheese-like concoction, great for spreading over an allotment of bread, or used as a dip for crudite, adding herbs or spices to zing it up.
Lately, I’ve become enamored with Greek food and have been referring to The Olive and Caper by Susanna Hoffman ( Workman Press), for inspiration. Radish tzatziki is my new best friend. Freshly chopped dill and radishes are folded into the thick yogurt with a hit of lemon juice and salt (garlic optional).
I could well imagine this on top of lamb kabobs but I’m trying not to torture myself. Now if only I could get the violinist to stop playing.

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