Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad

A few months ago my favorite store announced a limited release of a Black Garlic Tamari Soy infused balsamic vinegar. I promptly went to the store for a taste and it quickly became one of my favorite products. The lovely umami flavor of soy paired with the tangy sweetness of balsamic and a light punch of garlic makes every mouthful interesting. I’ve used it in place of soy sauce in numerous dishes, from fried rice to scrambled eggs to this delightful Thai peanut salad I have here to share with you today.

Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

In my never-ending love affair with my spiralizer, I recently meal-prepped a super easy, healthy, and delicious salad for my weekly lunches. With very little knife work required, the vegetable prep happens quickly instead of feeling like you are standing in the kitchen chopping for nine hours. The sauce comes together even faster, made easily in a blender or food processor. Chopping some peanuts are all you have to do by hand, and I promise that takes less than a minute.

Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Inspired in part by last year’s cashew zoodle salad, I wanted to experiment with a peanut-based version. Peanut is far and above my favorite flavor of nut, and pairing it with soy and spice is nearly always delightful. Olivelle’s introduction of this soy-like balsamic sealed the deal in working on this creation.

Thai Peanut Sauce {{Baking Bytes}}

I opted to use peanut butter powder in the sauce because the oils already add plenty of fats, but you can certainly use regular peanut butter too. (Just start with half the amount to begin with as the peanut flavor often comes through much strong.) Complemented with tangy balsamic, nutty sesame oil, a hint of sweet maple, and the heat of crushed red pepper flakes, this sauce covers nearly all the taste profiles in every delicious bite. I made mine quite thick to blend nicely with all the water zoodles tend to release, but to use as a regular salad dressing you can thin it was additional water.

Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Crispy veggies and tangy dressing topped with crispy peanuts are a perfect summer side dish or entree. Round it out with steak, grilled chicken, or tofu, served either on top or alongside this tasty salad. As its sans lettuce this is a perfect meal prep option, and it keeps well in the fridge for up to a week with your dressing reserved in a separate container until ready to eat. It also lends itself well to additional garnishes, like mandarin orange, sesame seeds, scallions, or just a sprinkle of extra red pepper flakes.

Thai Peanut Zoodle Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 medium zucchini
2 large carrots, peeled

2 medium bell peppers
1 medium red onion
1 small red cabbage
1 large cucumber
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
garnishes: mandarin, sesame seeds, scallion, red pepper flakes
optional: protein of choice (steak, chicken, tofu, chickpeas)

Thai Peanut Sauce
1/3 cup peanut butter powder1
1/4 cup (Toasted) sesame oil
1/4 cup water, to taste
2 Tbsp Black Garlic Tamari Balsamic Vinegar2
2 tsp maple syrup3
1/4 tsp (Roasted Garlic) salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Directions

  1. Wash and spiralize all veggies: 5mm for zucchini, 2mm for carrot, and the flat blade for the remaining veggies. (Or chop them all, if you don’t have a spiralizer.)
  2. Combine all sauce ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Add extra red pepper flakes or water as desired, but remember the zucchini will release a lot of water and thin the sauce substantially.
  3. For meal prep: divide zucchini evenly among four 5-cup containers. Top each with 1/4th of the remaining veggies. Add 2 Tbsp chopped peanuts and 2-4 Tbsp sauce to separate small containers, and tuck them in with the veggies. Refrigerate until ready to eat, up to 1 week.
  4. To serve: layer the zucchini in a large serving dish, then top with remaining veggies. Add 1/2 cup dressing and toss until well coated. Taste and toss with additional dressing if you prefer a more generous coating.
  5. If desired, layer on protein of choice, then drizzle with a small amount of extra sauce.
  6. Top with crushed peanuts, and any other garnishes you like (mandarin orange, extra red pepper flakes, sesame seeds). Serve promptly.

Notes

You could also use regular peanut butter, but start with about 3 tablespoons and adjust after tasting.

If necessary, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce should be an acceptable substitute.

If you use a sweetened peanut butter, like Jif, start without syrup and adjust after tasting.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart

Springtime means lemon in my brain, so when I saw this spiral tart from Bunsen Burner Bakery I knew I wanted to incorporate that flavor. A lemon hummus seemed the perfect accompaniment to a series of veggies and I set out to test this hypothesis.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

The bright flavor of lemon is complimented by a generous amount of garlic. I opted to use my hefty supply Olivelle products but you can use standard varieties if needed. The turmeric lifts the yellow coloring up a notch which isn’t necessary for the tart but it’s beautiful for a party platter. You’ll have plenty of leftover hummus to enjoy on its own, and it provides a lovely creamy base for this tart without any additional sogginess.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

My trusty no-fail pie crust recipe is the base for this delicious dish. Since I don’t have a tart pan (something I should probably rectify, pronto) I used a standard 9″ pie plate, which works just fine. I love this pie crust recipe because it never gets over browned, but you can easily substitute your own go-to pastry here if you wish.

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart {{Baking Bytes}}

The flaky pastry and crisp lemon flavor of the hummus blend beautifully into a base for all your veggies of choice. I chose zucchini, carrot, summer squash, and eggplant, but feel free to use whatever you have laying around the kitchen that you can slice with a mandolin. You’ll want veggies thin enough to bend, but no thinner. On my mandolin I used the thinnest setting for the carrot and the next one up for the rest of the vegetables, but definitely do a test slice to see what makes sense for yours.

spiral_tart_2

Concentric rings of vegetable goodness are pleasing to the eye and the tongue. Finished with a bit of rosemary (or your favorite herb) for a spark of flavor and a pretty garnish, this tart is a prefect addition to your next brunch. This tart is inherently vegan (presuming you use a vegan pie crust) but for the rest of us a sprinkle of goat cheese is the perfect topping for each piece. To round out the meal, I enjoyed mine with a side of eggs and fruit.

spiral_tart_5

This tart would be sure to please at a Mother’s Day brunch, or to brighten any regular day too. If you have any leftovers, they are excellent cold or reheated in the oven, so be sure to enjoy every last bite!

Squash & Lemon Spiral Tart

Inspired by Bunsen Burner Bakery
Makes one 9″ tart

Ingredients

pastry for a single-crust pie

1 medium zucchini
1 small eggplant
1 small yellow squash
3 large carrots
1 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic ) olive oil

1/2 cup lemon garlic hummus (below)

1-2 tsp fresh rosemary or other herb

lemon garlic hummus (adapted from Well and Full)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 Tbsp (Caramelized Garlic or Sicilian Lemon) olive oil (I used 2 Tbsp Garlic and 1 Tbsp Lemon)
2 Tbsp tahini
1-3 cloves garlic (depending on if you’re using infused oil)
zest and juice from 1 large lemon
1/2 tsp (Garlic) salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Make ahead: add all hummus ingredients to a food processor, starting with half the lemon juice, and process until smooth. Taste and add additional lemon juice (for flavor) or oil (for consistency) as needed. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  2. Gently lay pastry in a 9″ pie plate or tart pan. Trim and crimp the edges, as desired. Refrigerate pastry for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Prick pastry generously all over with a fork (or use pie weights if you prefer) and bake for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool while you prepare the veggies.
  5. Use a mandolin to thinly slice all the veggies. (On mine I used setting 2 for the squash and eggplant, and setting 1 for the carrots.) Add all the slices to a large bowl and use your hands to gently toss in olive oil. Don’t add too much oil because the eggplant likes to soak it all up!
  6. Retrieve the pastry and spread 1/2 cup of hummus evenly along the bottom.
  7. Starting from the outside, layer the strips of veggies in whatever order you like; I opted for a repeating pattern of concentric circles but it’s totally up to you.
  8. Spray with olive oil (or lightly brush it on) and sprinkle with rosemary or herb of choice.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender and starting to crisp, and crust is a golden brown. If necessary (it wasn’t for me) you can cover the crust edges with foil if they are browning too quickly.
  10. Serve warm, optionally topped with goat cheese. Goes great with a side of eggs and fruit!
  11. Store leftovers in the fridge. I suspect it’d last about 3 days but I can’t confirm because we ate it all before then. Enjoy chilled or reheat in the [toaster] oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes.

Spicy Cashew Zoodles

This recipe has been a long time coming – I’ve actually made it three times this summer with the intent to photograph and post it, but each time the sun was being temperamental and the pictures just came out terrible. Fourth time’s the charm in getting at least moderately passable photos, so you finally get to enjoy this delight.

Spicy Cashew Zoodles {{Baking Bytes}}

Many moons ago when I was still in college, a friend regularly served this dish at potlucks and her house, and it was always a favorite of mine. Al dente spaghetti and a lightly spiced cashew sauce came together in a dish served equally well cold as it did warm. I made it semi-regularly throughout my college career and typically enjoyed it straight from the fridge. Versatile in its uses from lunch to dinner to side, it’s a great dish to have in your repertoire.

Spicy Cashew Zoodles {{Baking Bytes}}

Amusingly, I all but forgot about this recipe for like five years until I was cleaning up my Facebook “notes” and came across it again. My current love affair with my spiralizer and lower carb inclinations inspired me to use this sauce with zoodles rather than the called-for pasta. A couple of light tweaks later, and I now have a new favorite side dish and another fantastic meal prep option for my work lunches.

Spicy Cashew Zoodles {{Baking Bytes}}

Most of the active time involved here is with slicing the veggies, but you can easily do that in advance and store everything in the fridge. Likewise, the sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use. It’s a delicious way to use an abundance of zucchini and is a definite crowd pleaser since it’s both vegan and gluten-free (watch your sauce ingredient labels to be sure). It’s also more interesting than your typical salad but still a healthy veggie side. I nearly always bring a vegetable to potlucks (unless I’m requested to bring dessert) to ensure there’s healthy option alongside the numerous starches sure to grace the table.

The one caveat with taking it to potlucks is that I recommend not mixing it till you get there. Zucchini releases a lot of water and it has a tendency to get soupy after not too long. This does not affect the flavor in the slightest – just makes it a bit messier to serve and eat. If desired (I never do), you can mitigate this by salting your zucchini and setting it in a strainer for about 20 minutes, then rinsing thoroughly and using a cloth to squeeze any excess water from the zoodles. Follow directions as normal after that.

Spicy Cashew Zoodles {{Baking Bytes}}

For a tasty lunch, add your protein of choice. Steak or chicken is my personal preference, but eggs (I’d do fried, poached or soft boiled) or a vegan option like chickpeas or tempeh would go beautifully as well. Pick your favorite and include that to bring it up to a full entrée. Alternatively, if you think I’m crazy for preferring zucchini instead of spaghetti, you can make the original by cooking a pound of spaghetti to al dente and thinning the sauce with some pasta water. (A mix of spaghetti and zoodles would also be great! I would toss with the zucchini and let it rest for about 5 minutes, then fold in the spaghetti. You likely will not need to add any additional water if you are using zucchini at all.)

Spicy Cashew Zoodles {{Baking Bytes}}

This recipe does not keep particularly well after it’s been mixed, so plan to eat it all or drain as much of the sauce as possible before storing the rest of it. (Excess sauce is great as a salad dressing, on breakfast bowls, or for dipping a wrap.) If you’re still in search of a Labor Day BBQ contribution, you can stop looking now.

Note: I recently discovered the Toasted Sesame oil at Olivelle and basically fell in love. It has a much more prominent sesame flavor which blends really nicely in this sauce. However, it’s plenty delicious with your run of the mill sesame oil, so feel free to substitute that.

Spicy Cashew Zoodles

Adapted from epicurious
Serves 4 (entrée1) to 8 (side dish)

Ingredients

Sauce
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
2-3 garlic cloves (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
1/4 cup Olivelle Toasted Sesame oil (or regular sesame oil)
2 1/2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce,  to taste
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
3/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes, to taste

3-4 medium zucchini, spiralized 3mm (6-8 cups, but I never measure too hard)
1 small cucumber, spiralized flat
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced (I like red or orange best)
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion

garnishes: 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cashews, sesame seeds, additional red pepper flakes, protein of choice

Directions

  1. Purée sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor until well combined and there are no large chunks of cashew or garlic. Taste and blend in additional red pepper flakes, if desired. (Sauce can be made in advance2 and refrigerated until ready to use.)
  2. In a large bowl, toss zoodles with about 3/4 of the sauce.
  3. Add remainder of sauce, onion, bell pepper, and cucumber, and toss to combine.
  4. Garnish as desired and serve promptly.

Notes

For a more filling entrée, include your protein of choice: keep it vegan with chickpeas, tofu, or tempeh, include poached or boiled eggs if ovo vegetarian is more your thing, or appease the omnivores with thinly sliced steak or chicken. Add in your choice with the veggies in step 3.

This recipe works great for meal prep: Portion your produce into a 4-cup bowl, and refrigerate until ready to eat. Top with 3-4 tablespoons of sauce, microwave for about 30 seconds, then gently toss until coated. Garnish as desired and enjoy!

To use this sauce without zoodles, thin it with water to your desired consistency. Toss with pasta, use as a salad dressing, or drizzle over breakfast bowls to your heart’s content.

Tuna Zoodle Salad

During the month of May my personal challenge was to try a low-carb diet. Well, I should say lowER carb, I was not even close to the keto level. (20 grams per day? I eat that in my salads.) It was a surprisingly rewarding journey and I intend to keep up the change (about 100 gram per day) at least through the month of June. Admittedly this challenge is substantially easier in the summer, when fresh produce is in abundance. It also gave me the incentive to finally try out the spiralizer my mother gifted me for Christmas. I don’t know why I waited so long because I am 100% all aboard the zoodle train. Seriously, I may never eat traditional spaghetti again. They are pleasantly crunchy, just as noodle-y, and the substantially lower carb (and calorie) content means I can eat a lot more sauce and cheese, which is the best part of the meal anyway.

Tuna Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

During this adventure I discovered it was a lot harder to get enough protein (as an athlete) since my go-to vegetarian proteins, like black beans, are all pretty high carb. I have ended up increasing my intake of lean meats, eggs, and cheeses, and somewhat surprisingly I actually feel great. Since M’s uncle generously gifts us with an abundance of wild-caught tuna each year, one of my favorite creations makes use of the many jars in the pantry.

Tuna Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Crispy zoodles and a colorful array of crunchy vegetables are rounded out with tuna salad and plenty of cheese. I like to use avocado mayo (it’s a bit lower fat if that matters to you; I just think it tastes better) and a sweet & spicy mustard. Feel free to substitute any combination that you like and tailor it to fit your preferences. You can definitely just use all mayo or all mustard and add some spices for extra flavor; paprika is always a great option.

This salad is a light but delicious lunch and the mound of veggies makes it pretty filling. If you’re not low-carb, focaccia would make a fantastic side. I did not feel it needed a dressing, but if you want to add some saucy goodness to your bowl then a honey mustard vinaigrette would be a delightful choice. If you don’t want to make your own, Annie’s and Newman’s Own are excellent pre-made options.

Tuna Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}I enjoyed this both chilled and lightly heated with excellent results. For the warmed option, heat everything except the cucumber for about one minute in the microwave and give it a good stir. (Heat another 30-seconds if it’s still too crunchy). Then top with cucumber and enjoy the melty, cheesy goodness.

Tuna Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

For my fellow preppers – meal-preppers that is – this is one of my new go-to recipes. A serving just fits in my 4-cup glass Pyrex Snapware containers (I got them as part of a Costco set, but they look like this) which is easy to take to work and then I can choose whether I’d like it chilled or heated on the fly. Just keep the tuna/cheese in a separate smaller container inside the big one so the veggies don’t get soggy over time. Just as crisp on day four as it was on day one, and I bet it’d keep longer if you haven’t eaten them all by then.

Tuna Zoodle Salad {{Baking Bytes}}

Switch up your summer salad game and give this concoction a try. Be sure to let me know what you think and how you make it your own!

Tuna Zoodle Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

15-16 oz tuna canned in water, drained
3 Tbsp avocado mayonnaise
3 Tbsp sweet & hot mustard
spices, to taste

2-3 large zucchini, spiralized 3mm (about 8 cups)
1 large or 2 medium carrots, spiralized 2mm (about 2 cups)
1 large bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1+ cup grated cheese (I used cheddar)

1 cucumber, spiralized flat (about 1 cup)

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, use a fork to mash together tuna, mayo, and mustard until completely incorporated. Stir in additional spices, if desired. (Paprika is a great addition.)
  2. Divide zucchini amongst four bowls, and arrange carrots, onion, bell pepper, tuna, and cheddar on top. If enjoying warm, microwave each bowl for about 1 minute.
  3. Top with cucumber and serve immediately.
  4. For meal prep: Divide zucchini amongst four 4-cup (or larger) storage containers.
  5. Press tuna equally into four 6-oz containers. Fill remainder of containers with shredded cheese.
  6. Make a well in the middle of the zucchini and nestle tuna into the hole.
  7. Arrange carrot, cucumber, onion, and bell pepper in remaining area. Affix lids and store in the fridge until ready to eat.

Summer Squash Tian

We had a brief stint of summer here, with one day reaching 92, but so far haven’t quite made it to the sustained heat I know is imminent. I am constantly torn between being grateful the heat is holding off, and lamenting the lack of heat training I can do for my upcoming summer races. In any case, as the plants in my garden sprout and grow, it makes me excited for harvest and all the lovely dishes that come with a summer bounty.

Summer squashes like zucchini and yellow squashes are some of my favorite veggies, and their relative cheapness here means I eat a ton of them throughout the summer and early fall. I add them to salads and scrambled eggs, eat them plain with hummus or pesto, and freeze them for when the weather turns me towards soups. Their neutral flavor makes them an easy addition into almost anything, as well as being a delightful standalone.

One of my favorite hot weather recipes is a simple baked dish. Summer squash and sweet potato are accented with onion and spices, then topped with a sprinkle of cheese for an easy but delicious side great for the hot months. You may be wondering how baked vegetables could possibly be warm weather appropriate, but the secret is I actually prefer this one cold! Not only does that make it easy to serve straight out of the fridge for barbecues and leftovers, but it makes for a great make-ahead meal as well.

Simple without being boring, this vegetarian concoction works great as a side dish when you get bored with salad, or as a healthy afternoon snack. For the vegan crowd, you can just leave off the cheese – it’s quite excellent without it – but you may want to add a pinch of salt to your spice mix. Briefly sautéed onions and roasted squashes bring a light sweetness to the dish, complimented with your favorite spices. This one is easy to customize to whatever you’re pairing it with: just change up the spices to match or contrast with your entrée.

I used an Italian spice blend, but you can easily concoct your own mix or just include one spice for a simpler flavor profile. Pairs beautifully with a side of grilled anything, and makes for an easy lunch since it requires no reheating. I’ll admit it’s a little messy and time-consuming to slice and vertically arrange so many items, but it’s worth it for even cooking and presentation points. I like to use a sweet potato, but if you prefer a white or red that is excellent too. The dish is easiest if you can find squashes and potatoes of roughly all the same diameter, but as you can see I have a variety of sizes in mine and it’s completely manageable.

When the over abundance of squash hits your area, give this a try and let me know what you think!

Summer Squash Tian

Adapted from Budget Bytes
Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil

3 lbs zucchini and yellow squash (about 6 medium, I used most of one of the bags Costco sells)
1 narrow sweet potato
3 Tbsp olive oil
1-2 Tbsp Miscuglio (or your favorite spice mix)

1 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar and Gruyère)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a small or medium frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high.
  3. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Spread evenly into the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish.
  4. Using a mandolin or a sharp knife and a lot of patience, slice zucchini and yellow squash into approx 1/4″ slices (I used the thickest setting on my mandolin.)
  5. Using the same method, slice sweet potato into less than 1/8″ slices (I used the thinnest setting on my mandolin.) This ensures the potatoes cook in the same amount of time as the squashes.
  6. In a large bowl, combine squashes, sweet potato, 3 Tbsp olive oil, and spices. Stir until well coated.
  7. Arrange upright in rows, avoiding having large sections of the same vegetable if possible. This is messy, but worth it for even cooking and prettiness.
  8. Cover dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Remove foil, top with cheese, and bake an additional 10-15 minutes until cheese is to your desired level of meltiness.
  10. Let cool briefly before serving, or store in fridge and serve chilled.1

Notes

This does not reheat well but I actually prefer it cold which makes it not only a great make-ahead meal, but also a great side dish for hot summer days.