With all the healthy trends going on over social media this month, I was reminded of one of my favorite kitchen tools –my spiralizer! I bought it a few years ago and used it quite a bit at first, but like many little gadgets, I eventually tucked it in a cupboard and forgot about it. As I daydreamed about putting it back to good use, zucchini noodles of course came to mind. I don’t try to live gluten-free, but I enjoy Zoodles for two reasons – one, super fun word to say and two, they are a great way to get more zucchini in my life!
As I continued daydreaming about Zoodles (also fun to type!), I recalled an old favorite recipe that’s also been tucked away for awhile, my roasted red pepper alfredo. I love taking a crowd-favorite recipe like buttery-cheesy alfredo and amping it up with a serious veggie boost. That’s really like my recipe writing M.O., in fact!
To make the alfredo, I start by making a red pepper pesto-like sauce in a food processor. I buy a jar of roasted red peppers and strain out as much of the liquid as possible before pureeing the peppers with garlic, toasted almonds, balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, salt and pepper. It’s so dang gorgeous! It makes me hungry just looking at it!
There are a few things I love about this step. First, you can do it as many as a few days before cooking. So, why not? It takes just a few minutes and you can get it out of the way. Second, this pesto-like sauce is good all on it’s own. If you are cooking for dairy-free folks, or trying to avoid cheese and butter yourself, use the sauce just like this. Toss it with pasta, spread it on toast, use it as a dip for fried zucchini, fold it into an omelet…the possibilities are endless. Thirdly, you can freeze it like this as well, which means you can keep it on hand for an easy dinner solution in the future. Pretty great, eh?
When it comes time to cook the alfredo, I melt butter in a medium saucepan and stir in a little heavy cream, grated Parmesan cheese and a few ounces of goat cheese for extra tang. This easy take on alfredo is also great all on it’s own, but to bring it all together I stir in about one cup of the roasted red pepper sauce. Oh, yum! Looks like Christmas!
Since this meal was originally inspired by Zoodles, I serve this sauce over top some zucchini noodles, which I quickly sautéed in a hot pan with olive oil, just enough to heat them through while still retaining their texture. However, if you want traditional ol’ pasta, by all means, have at it.
To finish the dish, I scoop the roasted red pepper alfredo sauce over the Zoodles and top everything off with a chiffonade of fresh basil, more crushed almonds and a few crumbles of goat cheese. Extra Parmesan would be delish, too of course. As would be a crusty loaf of garlic bread, you know, if you need some gluten on your plate! Bon appetite!
Super simple roasted red peppers get blended into a creamy, cheesy alfredo sauce for an easy and flavorful “Zoodle” or pasta dish.
1 16-oz jar roasted red peppers
1/2 cup blanched almonds
3 large zucchini, about 4-5 cups of zucchini noodles (Or, 6–8 ounces of pasta)
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
5 large or 10 small leaves of fresh basil
2 tablespoons butter, unsalted
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Special Equipment: Spiralizer (or you can often find spiralized zucchini for sale in the produce section of many grocery stores).
Strain the roasted red peppers through a mesh strainer. Set over a bowl and let drain while you start on other prep work.
Measure almonds into a medium saute pan and set over medium heat. Use a large enough pan that you can also use to saute the zucchini noodles, that way you save from cleaning an additional pan. Toast until fragrant and golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Shake pan often to prevent burning.
Spiralize the zucchini into noodles. Set aside.
Set up a food processor with the blade attachment. Add the clove of garlic and chop. Scrape down the sides, add half of the toasted almonds and chop again. Add the strained peppers along with the balsamic vinegar. Process until mixture is nearly smooth with a slight texture. Add fresh basil leaves, salt and pepper to taste, then pulse to chop.
Set a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add butter and melt. Mix in the heavy cream, then the Parmesan cheese and goat cheese and stir until cheeses are melted and mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 1 cup of the red pepper puree and remove from heat.
Set a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and warm. Once oil is very hot, add the zucchini noodles. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat with the oil, then cook just 1-2 minutes. You want to warm the noodles without overcooking the zucchini.
Remove pan from heat.
Transfer noodles to serving dishes and top with roasted red pepper alfredo sauce. Roughly chop the remaining almonds to sprinkle over the top, then finish with thinly sliced basil leaves and/or crumbled goat cheese if desired. Serve warm!
For the left over red pepper puree, spread it on toast, combine it with mayo and use it as a sandwich spread, or save the extra for more alfredo later in the week. You could also freeze it for future use, or toss it with pasta as is for a vegan-friendly sauce.