Zucchini Spaghetti with Kalamata Olives

11 Jul

A few weeks ago we visited one of our favorite restaurants, Russo’s, located in Marble Falls, Texas.  They have wonderful food and so many tasty options that it’s really hard to decide what to order.  I wanted a little bit of everything, and luckily my mom was willing to share the zucchini spaghetti that she’d ordered.  And by sharing, I mean one bite.  With that one bite, I’d decided that I’d found a new favorite.  Offered on Russo’s menu as an alternative to regular pasta, zucchini spaghetti provides the sauce delivery system that I love, while leaving behind the heaviness and unwanted calories of traditional pasta.  Bonus that it is nutritionally superior.  The trick to making it at home is having the right tool.

I love you, Lemon Zester.

Unless you have kickin’ knife skills, you’re going to need a tool to create all of the thin, even zucchini strips.  Unfortunately, I do not.  Pair that with my HUGE fear of using a mandoline (which seems like it might be a good tool for the job as well), I knew I needed another option.  I dug around in my utensil drawer and came up with the lemon zester.  Turns out, it was AWESOME for creating these strips.  Originally purchased for zest, I found that when I needed a dash of citrusy goodness, I preferred the microplane zester.  But, not wanting to discard the first one, I just kept it around.  And now I know why: zucchini spaghetti.

With the right tool in hand, prepping the zucchini spaghetti is easy.  Remove both ends of the zucchini and peel it, leaving behind some thin strips of the dark green peel if you’d like.  It does nothing for flavor, but does add a little bit of color contrast to the finished dish.  Holding the zucchini squash in one hand, scrape down one side with the multi-holed end of the zester to create long, thin strips.  Roll the zucchini in your hand, continuing around the zucchini until you eventually reach the seed center.  Discard the seed center, or save for another use.  Prepping the zucchini takes just a few minutes, and should be done right before cooking.

I think that the zucchini would work really well as a substitute for pasta in almost any recipe.  To cook the zucchini for use with any sauce, follow these basic steps:

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  2. When it’s hot, add the zucchini spaghetti and cook for two minutes.
  3. Sauce it up.

When considering the sauce for this recipe, I decided to take an idea from the dinner salad at Russo’s and combined Kalamata olives and orange zest.  It is a refreshing and tasty combination, and works really well with the zucchini spaghetti and some fresh basil.  I really loved this dish, and will definitely make it again as a side or a light lunch.

Zucchini Spaghetti with Kalamata Olives
Serving size: About 2/3 c.
Serves: 4

1/2 c. kalamata olives, halved
1/2 t. orange zest
2 T. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
6 zucchini, ends cut off and peeled
2 T. white wine
1 T. fresh basil, cut into thin strips
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix together kalamata olives and orange zest, set aside.

Using a lemon zester or mandoline, cut zucchini into thin, long spaghetti-like strips.  Turn zucchini and continue to create strips until you reach the seed center.  Reserve the seed centers for another use.

In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add garlic and cook 1 minute.  Add zucchini and cook for 1 minute.  Add wine and basil, cook for 1 minute.  Remove from heat, stir in olive mixture, season with salt and pepper.  Divide between plates, and drizzle with any remaining sauce.

Estimated calories:  137 cal/serving

Print it: Zucchini Spaghetti with Kalamata Olives

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