I started making vegetable ribbon pasta as a teenager. I was a lanky, moody, pale vegetarian , who loved to spend hours in the kitchen (huh….not much has changed!), and my parents had a bumper crop of zucchini from their enormous garden that was mine to do with as I pleased. I made savory pancakes and zucchini bread and latke-like fritters. But the one recipe I made on repeat was grated zucchini ribbons, simply sautéed with salt and pepper--I couldn’t get enough.
Once you learn this basic technique, you’ll be well on your way to making a wide variety of paleo, gluten-free vegetable ribbons. Holding your washed vegetable, move in a smooth line away from yourself with the peeler, skimming off thin lengths of the vegetable with each movement. This may take some practice, it took me awhile to be able to get full-length ‘noodles," instead of a bunch of little trimmings. A mandoline slicer would be perfect for this kind of task, but, alas, I have not added one to my shelf of gadgets yet. Once you get down to the core of your carrot, squash or what have you, you will be left with a cube or rectangle that is very thin and hard to grate. You can slice this remaining piece with a knife, cut it and peel it into smaller pieces, or set it aside to add to your next pot of soup.
I guess I’m a purist when it comes to this recipe. I was always trying to spice things up with it, adding fresh herbs and onions, but found that I preferred just a dash of salt and pepper, so as not to overpower the zucchini, which takes on almost a toasted caramel flavor around the edges after frying. Too good.
Paleo vegetable ribbon pasta for 2
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Optional aromatics, like garlic, shallots or herbs, minced
salt and pepper to taste
Using the ribbon technique, prep the washed vegetables. In a large saucepan, warm the olive oil (and optional aromatics) and add the vegetables. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables soften, then stop expressing any water and finally begin to crisp and turn golden around the edges. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
You’ll be surprised at how much the vegetables cook down during this process. Overestimate when planning how much of the raw ingredients to purchase or harvest.
Cutting the vegetables in half before peeling can be very helpful. When I halve the zucchini, I find that I am able to grip them better and also most of my peelings will have at least a little bit of green on them, which looks really nice.
Go easy on the olive oil. It may seem like you need more, but only add more oil if the vegetables seem to be toasting rather than sautéing. The zucchini in particular has a tendency to take on a lot of oil and become greasy.
Certain vegetables exude a lot of water and will need more time to cook (like bell peppers, for example). You can remedy the difference in cooking time by cutting these vegetables into smaller pieces before adding them to your pan.
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