Zucchini Noodles with Pesto Sauce

by Gwen on October 5, 2010 · 1 comment

It actually rained in LA today.  Seriously?  This came as an extra shock to Firat and I after our 95 degree weekend in Cabo.  So when dinner time rolled around we were looking for something warm and comforting and also wholesome to make up for our weekend of indulgence. So we figured, hey, let’s pick up a rotisserie chicken from Yummy and some veggies.  Alas, everyone else in Playa Vista had the same idea and our no-fuss dinner plans were foiled.  But have no fear, inspiration struck exactly when it was needed.

I’ve been known to whip up some spaghetti squash on occasion and lately I’ve been dressing it with pesto sauce.  So I took the same concept and prepared it with zucchini noodles.  The bright, sweet flavor of the basil is such a perfect compliment to the fresh, summery zucchini.  I rounded out the meal with some quick chicken paillards.  Let me tell you, not only was the pasta not missed, I truly believe the zucchini elevated the dish with its gentle flavor and crisp al dente texture.  Plus, you get all the comfort of a bowl of pasta with none of the heaviness associated with a carb-heavy meal nor the giant pot of scalding water.  The real trick to making this a weeknight meal is having a mandolin with a julienne blade attachment or a julienne peeler.  That will make extremely quick work out of an otherwise tedious job of slicing the zucchini noodles.

Chicken Paillards and Zucchini Noodles with Pesto Sauce
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, butterflied open
5 smaller zucchinis, about 2 lbs
1/4 cup homemade pesto
1/4 cup half and half
1.5 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

To make zucchini noodles, run your zucchini through a mandolin with its julienne blade attached.  Alternatively, cut zucchini into slices lengthwise, then stack and slice into thin long strips.  Uniformity is key here to make sure the noodles cook quickly and evenly.

Place a large skillet over high heat and add oil.  Season your chicken well with salt and pepper, then coat in flour.  Cook quickly over high heat, allowing chicken to brown nicely before flipping, about 5 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the 2nd.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium-high then toss in all the zucchini noodles.  Saute about 4 minutes, tossing the zucchini regularly to ensure even cooking.  Add in the pesto and half and half and stir gently until the sauce is blended and evenly coating the noodles.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Allow to cook 1-2 minutes more, just until the zucchini starts letting off some of its water.  For a thicker sauce, remove noodles from pan and allow sauce to continue simmering 1-2 minutes more until reduced.  Place chicken over the stack of noodles, then drizzle the pesto sauce over the dish.  Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

You can easily trade out the chicken in the recipe for shrimp, or lose the meat all together and reduce the oil to 1 tbsp, serving as a side dish instead of a main.  Either way, I really hope you give this recipe a go.

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