Back in the day, before I cared so much about the food I put into my body – in those dark days when being skinny was the primary goal and high-carb, low-fat was the way to go – one of my favorite “I don’t feel like cooking” meals was a bowl of spaghetti with a little olive oil and parmesan cheese with a few (fat free) breadcrumbs sprinkled on top. It could be throw together in about 20 minutes, and it was comforting and unchallenging in its simple familiarity.
I suspect it would taste like paste in my mouth if I tried it now, but I miss that feeling – the experience of a warm, comforting bowl of food that can be slurped or twirled with a fork to make big, soft, round bites… the kind of food you make while wearing pajamas, unplugged from the rest of the world, potentially about to be joined by a snuggly cat in losing yourself in an excellent book.
Tonight, I figured out how to recreate that experience – pajamas, cat, and all – without sacrificing my health. Zucchini noodles stand in for the pasta and gently-cooked eggs add just the right texture to take the place of the parmesan, while adding a healthy dose of essential protein. I even satisfied the indulgent part and made a slight sprinkling of almond meal “bread crumbs” for the top. And lest you worry that all this paleo food business takes longer to prepare than the conventional stuff, the prep and cook time clocked in at 25 minutes – and only about 5 of that was actual work.
Trust me: this does not taste like a big bowl of zucchini. The garlic and olive oil trump transform this dish so it tastes like neither vegetables nor eggs, but some miraculous, noodle-y merging of the two. It’s warm and tender and scrumptious. A hug in a bowl.
Makes enough for one slightly tired, fairly hungry dino-chow girl; adjust amounts accordingly.
2 small zucchini, julienned (about 2 cups) [Julienne peeler is essential.]
generous 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon almond flour or almond meal
1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 eggs, scrambled
a handful of fresh parsley, minced for garnish (optional)
salt & pepper, to taste
1. Place the julienned zucchini in a colander or wire strainer and toss with the salt until coated. Allow to sit for 20 minutes to drain excess water, then rinse and pat dry with paper towels. (You may be tempted to skip this step; I strongly advise against it. This step insures tender, rather than watery, noodles.)
2. While the zucchini is sweating in the colander, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Mix the almond flour with the coconut oil, sprinkle it with a smidgen of salt, then sauté in the pan, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until it’s toasty brown, about 1 minute. Remove from pan and save for garnish.
3. Return the pan to the heat and add the zucchini noodles. Sauté until just tender, about 1-2 minutes. Push the noodles to the side of the pan, and reduce heat to medium-low. Wait a minute; it’s essential that the pan cools down before adding the eggs. Add the olive oil and garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, about 20 seconds, pour in the eggs and allow them to cook until just beginning to set a tiny bit. Mix the zucchini noodles into the egg and continue to stir gently and continuously until the egg is set and clinging to the noodles. Taste, then add salt and pepper to your liking.
4. Serve noodles in a deep bowl and sprinkle with the almond flour crumbs and minced parsley. Slurping and ridiculously big bites heartily encouraged.
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