“Chicken Lo Mein” Zoodles

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Every time the new year rolls around, it seems like everyone makes a resolution involving weight loss, healthy eating, or general fitness. We’ve been eating zoodles for awhile now (see here, here, here, & here), but I think they’re a great way to simultaneously cut calories and add more healthy vegetables to your dinners! This zoodles dish was inspired by a recipe I’ve had saved on Pinterest for awhile now from the blog/website SkinnyTaste. On this site, you can find so many healthy recipe ideas and healthier variations of classics. Given that takeout chicken lo mein can top out anywhere from 1000 to 1500 calories per carton (obviously varying between restaurants and preparations), this homemade version will probably serve your New Year’s resolution AND your waistline well!

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“Chicken Lo Mein” Zoodles

(Recipe adapted from Skinny Taste)
Ingredients: 
  • 12oz chicken breast
  • 2 med-large zucchini
  • Vegetables to stir fry – options:
    • Carrots
    • Bell peppers
    • Onions
    • Mushrooms
    • Green onions
    • Snow peas
    • Broccoli
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil
  • 3 tsp sesame oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare the zoodles. (Click if you need more instruction.)
  2. Slice the chicken and your choices of vegetables.
  3. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and 1 tbsp of garlic powder.
  4. Heat the 1 tbsp of neutral oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 6-8 minutes until no translucent spots are visible.
  5. Remove the chicken to the side and wipe clean if needed.
  6. Add 2 tsp of sesame oil to the pan and increase heat to medium-high. Once oil is quite hot, add the vegetables. Stir fry for 4-5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, whisk together remaining 1 tsp of sesame oil, chicken stock, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, ginger, and flour.
  8. Remove vegetables to the side and lower heat to medium.
  9. Add sauce to the pan. Allow to warm for 2-3 minutes, stirring as needed.
  10. Add zoodles, other vegetables, and chicken to the pan. Cook over medium heat for ~5 additional minutes so everything is coated in sauce and vegetables are cooked to your liking.
Serving sizes depends on how many vegetables you choose to add!
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Zoodles with Roasted Chickpeas

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Have all you food-blog-readers out there heard of Yotam Ottolenghi? He’s an Israeli-born British chef who I absolutely love! He has restaurants in the UK, at least five cookbooks, a website full of traditional & inventive Middle Eastern recipes, and a weekly column in The Guardian. He also has one of the best, most gorgeous, most mouth-watering Instagram feeds to follow out there (@ottolenghi) – you probably want to start following him!

As your average American who doesn’t dine out in London often or subscribe to The Guardian, I hadn’t heard of Yotam Ottolenghi until a few years ago when my sister gave me one of his cookbooks for Christmas. I think I’ve mentioned it a few times on here, and if I haven’t I should, as it’s one of my favorites. It’s called Jerusalem and was authored by Ottolenghi and another chef named Sami Tamimi. I love this cookbook for its delicious recipes, gorgeous photography, random stories interspersed with the recipes, and the fact that it features recipes based on both chef-authors’ heritages. Both grew up in Jerusalem, but Ottolenghi is of Israeli-Jewish heritage, while Tamimi is of Palestinian-Arab descent. Throughout the cookbook, they show the similarities and pervasiveness of recipes traditional to both groups. Maybe my favorite section of the cookbook frames the struggles of Jerusalem’s various residents like this:

“Alas, although Jerusalemites have so much in common, food, at the moment, seems to be the only unifying force in this highly fractured place. The dialogue between Jews and Arabs, and often among Jews themselves, is almost nonexistent. It is sad to note how little daily interaction there is between communities, with people sticking together in closed, homogenous groups. Food, however, seems to break down those boundaries on occasion… It takes a giant leap of faith, but we are happy to take it – what have we got to lose? – to imagine that hummus will eventually bring Jerusalemites together, if nothing else will.”

I love the sentiment, and if anyone has the unifying hummus recipe, it’s probably these guys.

As I mentioned, Mr. Ottolenghi’s instagram feed is great, and I see posts from him (or his surrogates probably…) nearly every day. Said posts make me want to whip up his recipes, nearly every day. I must have seen something inspiring in recent days, because when confronted with my zoodles for tonight’s dinner, I felt an overwhelming desire to use some tahini. The tahini sauce I coated the zoodles with tonight is a scaled-down and warmed up version of the recipe in Jerusalem.

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Zoodles with Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients: 
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained, rinsed, & dried
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Black pepper
  • 2 tbsp water
Instructions: 
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Toss chickpeas in 1 tbsp olive oil + paprika, cumin, turmeric, and salt. Spread out on a cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Stir up once about halfway through cooking time.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare zoodles. See here if you need a little help with that!
  4. Next, warm the other 1 tbsp of olive oil into a pan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook for just about 3 minutes.
  5. Now lower the heat of the burner to a low. Wait a minute or two, then stir the tahini paste into the olive oil.
  6. Add the lemon juice and a turn or two of black pepper. Whisk together until well-combined. Add water by the tablespoon. (Don’t use all the water – or use more – if you’re happy with the consistency of the sauce.)
  7. Add the zoodles to the pan. Toss with the sauce. Cover and increase heat back to medium for 5 minutes.
  8. Portion out the zoodles into individual bowls. Top with the roasted chickpeas.
Serves 2.

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Caliente Chicken & Zoodles

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At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Are they zucchini lobbyists like VEEP’s Dan Egan?”  Well… that would be a cool job, but we’re pretty invested in anesthesia school.  Zoodles aren’t too complex to make and are an easy way to get some extra vegetables in your life (never a bad thing).  In terms of flavor, they add a subtle earthiness, but also take on the flavors you’re trying to highlight in a dish.  The spices (chipotle, paprika, and cumin) shine and if you’re looking for a even more heat, toss in a pinch of cayenne or use hot instead of sweet paprika.

This recipe is adapted from another Pinterest find… The original inspiring recipe can be found on Mrs. Happy Homemaker‘s blog.

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Caliente Chicken & Zoodles

Adapted from Mrs. Happy Homemaker blog
Ingredients: 
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 tsp of Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp safflower oil
  • 8oz chicken thighs, cubed
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp + 1 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp Frank’s hot sauce
Instructions: 
  1. Prepare your zoodles. See this post if you don’t know how.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken to the pan and toss with the spices and 1 tsp of lime juice. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, still over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pan. Do not clean/wipe out the pan.
  5. Add the zoodles to the pan and cook uncovered for 2 minutes.
  6. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the hot sauce, remaining lime juice, and chopped cilantro. Stir to combine.
  7. Cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Makes a light dinner for two.

How to Make Zoodles

Have you wanted to jump on board the zoodle craze train, but aren’t really sure how to make them? Well this is the post for you! Luckily, preparing zoodles is very easy and just requires an extra step or two that you might not anticipate.

Zoodles

The key is to draw some of the water out of the zucchini before you cook it like a noodle. If you skip this step, your dish will likely come out very watery and you’ll be like, “Well this sucks; I hate zoodles.” Don’t be put off by the salt. It doesn’t translate to an overly salty dish in my experience. With that being said, I would taste your final product before finishing it with any extra salt!

What You’ll Need

  • Zucchini
  • Salt
  • Strainer
  • Spiralizer*
*You can make zoodles without a spiralizer. You can use a vegetable peeler, or your amazing knife skills to slice these thin ribbons. I use a fairly cheap manual spiralizer. I think it cost like $12. It’s easy to use, but now that I know we love zoodles I might upgrade to one of the fancier ones one of these days.

How You Do It

  1. Rinse off your zucchini. Slice off the very ends.
  2. Using your kitchen utensil of choice, slice the zucchini into ribbons.
  3. Place all of your ribbons of zucchini in a strainer over the sink. Sprinkle with salt and toss with your hands. [I use a ratio of 1/2 tsp of salt per zucchini.]
  4. Let it sit for a minimum of 15 minutes. The longer you have to let them sit, the more water you’ll draw out.
  5. Pick up the zucchini and squeeze the ribbons in your fists. You won’t destroy them, and you’ll be amazed at how much more water you can squeeze out!

Now you have zoodles that are ready to be used in whatever recipe you’re working on!

French Onion Chicken Zoodles

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I’ve had this idea of French Onion soup combined with zoodles for awhile. I’d seen similar ideas on other blogs in the past, but have never tried it myself. The ones I drew from the most were this one from Climbing Grier Mountain and this one from Mother Thyme.

True to form, I tried to keep tonight’s new recipe a secret from Selim. And true to form, he guessed it by the ingredients I wanted in the grocery store. The man is ridiculous! I told him that the only ingredients we needed to buy for tonight’s dinner were onions and cheese, that we had everything else I needed at home. From there, he thought about it for a few minutes, made one wrong guess (enchiladas), and then came up with, “French onion soup…?” It’s maddening I tell you. I mean, how many entrees can you think of that involve onions and cheese? I can think of a million! Off the top of my head, I could’ve been making: a cheeseburger, tacos/enchiladas/burritos/etc, spaghetti, meatballs, spaghetti & meatballs, a big ol’ omelette, scalloped potatoes, a loaded baked potato, a loaded hot dog, or maybe a cheesy onion dip! The possibilities are endless, but Mr. Mind-reader/Surprise-ruiner won again.

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French Onion Chicken Zoodles

Ingredients: 
  • 10oz chicken, cubed
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 large zucchini
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 turns of black pepper
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 2 cups cheese, shredded (We used Asiago today. Julia Child would suggest Gruyere.)
Instructions: 
  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or other stove + oven – safe dish. Add the cubes of chicken and cook for ~5 minutes, until they are no longer translucent. Remove to the side.
  2. Now add the other 1 tbsp of oil and the butter. Wait until the butter has melted.
  3. Add the onions and stir to coat all of the onions. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until caramelized, ~45 minutes. Stir every few minutes. You want them to brown and start to stick to the pan, but not so much so they burn. You’ll be doing this for awhile.
  4. Meanwhile, prepare your zoodles. I use a hand spiralizer. You can also slice the zucchini in ribbons if you don’t have a spiralizer. Set in the sink in a strainer. Toss with a few shakes of salt. This draws the excess water from the zucchini.
  5. After about 40 minutes (earlier if you find them drying up/starting to burn), add the balsamic vinegar to your onions. Continue cooking the onions, stirring frequently. The total onion caramelizing time should be roughly 45 minutes.
  6. Deglaze the pan with the beef broth. Add the bay leaf and thyme to the liquid. Also return the chicken to the pan. Increase heat just a bit so the liquid is simmering. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  8. Now here you have two options. The result is the same, but the aesthetics are a bit different.
    • Option A – stir the zoodles into your dish so they are well coated and submerged in the liquid. Top with the cheese. Bake just a few minutes until cheese is bubbly and slightly browned.
    • Option B – if you have oven-safe individual-sized dishes (like large ramekins), portion out your zoodles among them. Top with the liquid and then cheese. Bake as in Option A. (In your excitement to dig in to your dinner, don’t forget that the dish is HOT!!)
  9. Enjoy! A nice crusty piece of bread would be a great compliment to this dish too! Gotta soak up all that onion-y deliciousness 🙂
Serves 4.

Mediterranean Cucumber-Zoodle Salad

Have you been introduced to zoodles, the semi-recent food craze and healthy-eater favorite? I love these spiralized “noodles” of zucchini. We’ve made several dishes with them, and I think they work great as a noodle or grain substitute if you’re into that kind of thing. What I don’t think however, is that they are “just like pasta.” You’ll see recipes floating around for things like Zoodles Alfredo where the authors claim they “can’t even tell the difference” between regular pasta and zoodles. I call BS. I like zoodles. I think they taste good. I think they work really well as a substitute in many situations where you would otherwise use noodles or rice. But I can definitely tell the difference!medzoodles

I personally like cooked zoodles way better than just spiralized zucchini raw. I don’t know why it tastes that different to me, but it does. Hence why in this recipe I cook the zoodles, even though I’m making a cold salad. Don’t judge. (And don’t do it if you don’t want! I’m sure normal people would like the whole thing raw.)

Mediterranean Cucumber-Zoodle Salad

Ingredients:

Salad:
  • 2 zucchini squash
  • 1/2 of a large cucumber
  • salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Handful of baby carrots, chopped
  • 10 kalamata olives, pitted & quartered
  • 4oz Feta cheese
Dressing:
  • 1 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegarZoodles
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • Salt & pepper

Instructions:

  1. Use a spiralizer to spiralize the zucchini and cucumber. Alternatively, use a mandolin or julienne peeler. You want to end up with thin strips. Place the zoodles in a strainer (set aside the cucumbers). Toss with salt. Allow to sit out over the sink for 15+ minutes. This draws the liquid out of the vegetables and keeps them from getting mushy.
  2. Now squeeze the zoodles between your fists. You’ll be amazed how much liquid you can squeeze out! (You won’t hurt the zoodles, they’re pretty durable.)
  3. Put olive oil in saute pan over low-medium heat. Once warm, add zoodles to the pan and saute for ~10 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside, and allow to cool. [Skip this step if you’re not weird like me and are fine with raw zucchini.]
  4. Combine zoodles, cucumber, olives, and feta (crumbled or cut into chunks).
  5. Whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing. Then toss the vegetables with the dressing and serve.medzoodles2