As you know, I love myself a great bowl of pasta, especially when it is a pasta that I can eat without guilt, like this creamy lemon pepper zucchini pasta with peas. Oh, zucchini noodles, what a blessing you have been in my life! I won’t lie to you, while I eat healthy 90% of the time, carbohydrates seem to maintain a strong hold over me, and every now and again, I find myself craving carbs in every way, shape and form available (that are gluten free of course) — crackers, pasta, bread; you name it, I crave it.
When I first ventured into the world of spiralizing my veggies in place of pasta, I can’t tell you how many times I ended up with a watery dish that was less than desirable, and I couldn’t exactly figure out what I was doing wrong. This seriously drove me nuts because I desperately wanted it to work, but no matter what technique I tried, watery ‘zoodles’ were always the outcome.
And then one day it clicked….
I was using the same sauces I would use on regular noodles. Why would that matter? Well, it matters because these sauces are often more runny in consistency as they are meant for traditional pasta, which is an absorbent starch. Zucchini noodles, on the other hand, are mainly composed of fiber and water, and when zucchini noodles are heated, that water is released. When this water is released from the zucchini noodles, it makes an already runny sauce watery.
So, what can be done to our sauces to stop the watery mess?
One simple word: reduction.
According to Food Republic, “In the kitchen, the term “reduction” refers to a technique that delivers intensely flavored, thickened liquid simply by boiling. Whether it is a soup or a sauce, by bringing the liquid to a rapid boil, it turns into steam and escapes from the pan, in turn reducing its original volume” (foodrepublic.com). As the zucchini naturally releases water when heated, that water from the zucchini adds back the reduced moisture, without causing it to be runny.
While reduction works great for homemade sauces, it isn’t exactly the most time efficient process out there, especially if you are short on time. Fortunately, there is a way to do it quickly, and all you need is a food processor or blender.
Today’s recipe will show you how to do this with my raw alfredo sauce. This recipe requires no heavy cream, milk, butter or cheese, and is 100% dairy and gluten free. Does it get much better than that? No, no it does not.
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- ¾ cup raw cashew halves
- 1 Tbsp. canned, unsweetened full-fat coconut milk; only use thick cream on top
- 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 1 cup So Delicious unsweetened coconut milk
- ½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 zucchini; spiralized or cut into pasta-like strands with a julienne peeler
- ½ cup frozen petite peas
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ sweet onion; thinly sliced and cut in half
- 3 tsp. Mrs. Dash Salt-Free Lemon Pepper Seasoning
- 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
- Gluten free non stick cooking spray (PAM Olive Oil is gluten free)
- 2 Tbsp. raw alfredo sauce
- 2.5 Tbsp. cashew parmesan (1/2 cup nutritional yeast blended with ½ cup raw cashews and ¼ tsp. salt); optional
- In a colander, thaw frozen peas under cool water and shake to remove excess water. Set aside until ready to use.
- In a high speed blender or food processor, combine coconut milk, canned coconut milk and cashews for sauce, blending until smooth.
- Add in nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper and blend until sauce is thick, but completely smooth. Set sauce aside until ready to use.
- Prepare onion and zucchini for cooking.
- Generously coat a large pan or pot with non stick cooking spray and heat on high.
- Add in your thinly slice onion and cook until onion is tender and becoming translucent.
- When ready, add in your zucchini noodles and cook on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring consistently with a fork.
- Remove noodles from heat and add in thawed peas, Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper seasoning and Italian seasoning, mixing thoroughly.
- Add in cashew parmesan if using, along with 2 Tbsp. of your prepared raw alfredo sauce. Mix thoroughly until noodles are completely coated.
- Add in chopped parsley, along with additional seasonings if desired before serving.