I was so skeptical of zucchini noodles that it took me a while to try them. It was one of those things that I thought was a trend and would fade away all too quickly. But to my surprise, the first time I tried them, I completely fell head over heels and became an immediate fan. Zucchini noodles have a great bite; their texture is firm and not bland, as I had imagined.They're a great, lighter alternative to pasta. And as pasta, they're able to showcase any sauce or topping because they don't have an overpowering flavor — which also makes it easier to get kids to embrace zucchini noodles, also sometimes called zoodles.
That's why this creamy poblano sauce pairs so well with them. Charred poblano peppers have a smoky, spicy flavor that pairs perfectly well with the mild and lightly sweet flavor of the cashews that make up this vegetarian and vegan-friendly "cream" sauce.
There are a lot of machines out there to prepare veggie noodles; no worries if you don't have one, just use your regular vegetable peeler. Stack all the peels and cut thinly with a knife or use them as zucchini ribbons, similar to tagliatelle cut pasta. But if you don't feel comfortable or brave enough to try the zucchini noodles, use this sauce over pasta or anything you want. It's so tasty that it gives an extra zing of flavor and brightness to anything it touches.
Note: Leftover zucchini noodles taste great over a bowl of rice and beans.
RECIPE: Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Poblano Sauce Yields 8 servings
Prep time:15 minutes + soaking time Cook time:15 minutes Total time: 30 minutes
1 1/2 cup raw cashews (soaked in water for 4 hours to overnight)
1/4 small onion
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 poblano chile pepper, roasted, seeded and deveined
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
4-6 zucchini cut into noodles, or 1 pound packaged pasta of your choosing
Soak cashews in water for 4 hours or overnight.
To roast the poblano chile pepper place it in a toaster oven, on a hot skillet or in the oven. Roast until completely browned on all sides. Let it cool, , peel the charred skin off, remove the stem and seeds. Remove the veins if you need to make the chile less spicy.
Strain the cashews, then add them to the blender with the lemon juice, vinegar, salt, onion, poblano pepper and water. Blend until completely smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.
If you are using regular pasta: cook your pasta according to package instructions. When done, pour the sauce over and mix carefully.
If you are using zucchini noodles, add about half of the sauce to a large skillet over low-medium heat. If it is too thick, add 1/4 cup of water and stir gently to incorporate. Add the zucchini noodles and season with a bit of salt. Mix carefully to coat all the zucchini noodles and eat immediately.