Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Squash Noodles with Everything Pesto (and an egg on top)

It has been a very long time since I've posted a recipe, and I'm hoping these squash noodles with everything pesto and a fried egg on top will at least partly make up for it.  Things have been busy at school, and it's getting harder and harder to blog often and stay on top of my readings and projects.  However, I am sure you do not want to hear about that.  I bet you'd rather hear about this brunch (dinner? lunch? midnight snack?) recipe that's paleo, grain-free, vegetarian, and ridiculously delicious.

I have to admit that I was unsatisfied with zoodles (zucchini + noodles = zoodles) for a long time, due mostly to unrealistic expectations.  Anyone who tells you that zoodles taste just like regular pasta is either totally lying or has a vastly different palate from mine.  You can't expect these to taste like linguine.

You can, however, expect them to be a scrumptious, light, and colorful alternative to gluten-filled pasta that's delicious in its own way.  And, of course, tossing your squash noodles in a super flavorful pesto and topping them with pine nuts and a fried egg does not hurt, either.  (If you want to try zoodles with a tomato-based sauce, check out my recipe for shrimp & zoodles with garlic & basil tomato sauce.  I think the key to enjoying zoodles is a nice strong sauce, and both this recipe and that one meet that criteria.)

Since we're being real, I have to tell you that I did not actually use zucchini.  I used these adorable, pastel-green cousa squash that I found at the farmer's market.  However, despite the farmer's assertion that they taste sweeter than their darker-green cousins, I did not notice a flavor difference at all.  You can use zucchini, summer squash, cousa squash, or any other variety of warm-weather squash for this recipe.

As for the everything pesto, it needs to be a thing.  It's similar to an everything bagel, but better.  It's just pesto with all your favorite herbs in it.  I used what I had in the fridge (oregano and scallions) and what we're growing (basil, parsley, and cilantro), and loved the combination of flavors.  Of course, if one of those herbs is not available or not to your liking, you can use more of one of the other herbs or substitute a different herb altogether.

The bottom line is that this is fabulous at any hour, and totally made my day when I had it for breakfast.  I heated up the leftover squash noodles and pesto and fried another egg for a friend who came over for lunch, and she loved it, too.  It's happy summer food, and a great reason to give zoodles a try.  And, if you've already tried zoodles, I'd love to know what you think of them!  Feel free to share your thoughts and any pertinent links in the comments.  

Squash Noodles with Everything Pesto (and an egg on top)
Yield: 2 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes


2 to 3 pounds zucchini, summer squash, or cousa squash, julienned* (I used 8 small cousa squash)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon ghee (I use homemade or Pure Indian Foods brand) or olive oil, divided
2 eggs

For the everything pesto:

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons pine nuts
About 1 cup lightly-packed fresh herbs of choice (I used the combination below):
       1/3 cup chopped basil leaves
       1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
       1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
       1 tablespoon chopped oregano leaves
       3 scallions, trimmed and chopped (white and green parts)
1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

*I use the julienne peeler from this set to make squash noodles, but a spiralizer would be easier and faster.  As soon as I get a bunch of money and/or a lot more kitchen space, I'm buying one.

Line a colander with paper towels and put the julienned squash inside.  Toss with the half teaspoon of sea salt and set aside while you make the pesto (the salt helps draw some of the extra moisture out of the squash).

Meanwhile, make the pesto.  Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium-low heat, tossing frequently, until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.  Place about 1/4 cup of the pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor, and save the rest of them for serving.

Add the herbs, garlic, and salt to the food processor, and pulse until combined.  Add the olive oil and lime or lemon juice and pulse again, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Taste the pesto and adjust the seasonings if desired.

Heat one teaspoon of ghee or olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the squash noodles, tossing frequently until cooked to your liking.  I like my squash pasta al dente, so I cook it for about 3-4 minutes, until it's more bendy than it was while raw but still has a bit of crunch to it.  Off the heat, add the pesto, toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cover the skillet to keep the noodles hot while you make the eggs (or, if you are a kitchen ninja like I try to be but definitely am not, you could probably fry the eggs while the noodles are cooking).

Heat the remaining ghee or oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, and fry the eggs.  I made mine sunny side up by cooking them for a minute or two with no lid, and then one more minute with a lid.

Divide the noodles between two plates.  Top each pile of noodles with a fried egg and half of the reserved pine nuts.  Enjoy while hot!

Fast and Easy Paleo Recipes

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  1. This looks wonderful! I just recently got a spiralizer, have a freezer full of pesto, and LOVE a fried egg on just about anything, so I think I have to make this right away. Your idea to have it for breakfast is a great one!

    1. Thank you, Nora! What do you think of the spiralizer so far?

      P.S. I have to restrain myself so that I don't end up putting a fried egg on top of every savory dish I make...


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