Pesto and Prosciutto Zoodles
Updated: Mar 10, 2021
I used to love pasta salad before I discovered my gluten sensitivity. I still enjoy it with rice pasta occasionally, but I've discovered that many veggies make a wonderful base for sauces and dressings. I threw together this zoodle salad, which can be eaten cold or warm, for a dinner with friends and it was an instant hit. This dish makes a great side for a grilled protein but is filling enough to eat on its own as a light lunch or dinner. As a bonus, my family likes it too! (By the way, in case you're not familiar with the term, a "zoodle" is a zucchini noodle.)
Pesto and Proscuitto Zoodles
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup pesto, homemade (I use Wellness Mama's fabulous pesto recipe; check her recipe for ingredients necessary) or storebought*
1 package proscuitto (3 to 5 ounces)
3 medium or 2 large zucchini (unpeeled unless you prefer to peel it--I don't!)
2 tbsp olive, coconut or avocado oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup pine nuts*
Prepare your pesto using your favorite recipe or my favorite, if you're making your own pesto. No need if you are using storebought, but homemade is actually easy peasy!
Prepare the proscuitto: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread your proscuitto slices on the parchment without overlapping. Bake for 10-20 minutes, watching carefully after 10 minutes to be sure they don't burn. (The time varies depend on how thick the slices are.) Remove when the slices look crunchy and allow to cool. They will get more crisp as they cool. After cooling, transfer to a cutting board and chop into small pieces, similar to large bacon bits.
Prepare your zoodles using your spiral slicer. (This is the one I use. *If you don't own a spiral slicer, see below for different zucchini preparation.) Transfer the zoodles to a cutting board and chop them with a large knife a few times to break up the long zucchini strings. (Mine will stretch across the room like double-dutch jump ropes, so this is a necessary step!)
Place oil in a large skillet on medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the zucchini noodles and salt for a light saute, about 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer to a colander to drain the noodles, as some liquid will cook out. Drain for several minutes.
While the zoodles drain, toast your pine nuts. Place a frying pan (no oil needed) on medium low heat. Add pine nuts in a single layer when the pan is hot. Watch carefully and stir frequently, removing the pine nuts when they are golden brown on one side.
Add zoodles and pesto to a large bowl. Toss the zoodles until coated. Add salt to taste. When zoodles are coated, toss in the pine nuts and proscuitto flakes.
Enjoy the zoodles either cold or slightly warm as a side or a light meal!
* Notes on pesto: It really is easy to make your own if you have a blender or food processor, and there are tons of different recipes available. As I said before, I frequently use Wellness Mama's recipe for basil pesto. If you do make your own, it freezes nicely in an ice-cube tray as long as it defrosts in the refrigerator when you're ready to use it. If you choose to buy pesto, look for one made from ingredients you recognize.
* Notes on pine nuts: These are expensive, so the best way to buy them is using the bulk bins; you can buy just the amount you need!
* Notes on zoodles: If you don't have a spiral slicer, you can use a vegetable peeler to peel away the zucchini from end to end in long slices until you get to the seedy middle. Discard the seedy middle or throw it in a smoothie. These zucchini strings will cook very quickly so don't leave them in the pan for more than 1-2 minutes and allow to drain in a colander as the recipe notes. An alternative would be to finely dice the zucchini and saute as the recipe notes.
Scroll through the images below to see some photos of the process!
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