I know you regular readers were expecting an all green recipe (I did say maybe). Sorry, you’ll have to wait. And I would hardly classify these mushroom-balls as “cleansing”, but this meal is fresh, light and filling. I haven’t quite gotten rolling on any official cleanse yet. I’m still working on that one…it might happen. For now, enjoy this lovely and partially cleansing meal.
If you omit the mushroom-balls, (I admit that this name is not-too-appealing, but neither is the word “meat-ball”, if you ask me), you’ve got a very healthful meal that is reminiscent of real pasta with none of the gummy, difficult to digest starches found in conventional pasta. And if you don’t omit the mushroom balls, you’re in for a real taste treat as they a perfect compliment to this meal. I have made this twice in the last week trying to perfect the mushroom-ball recipe. Each version was delicious, and different from the other.
|making the mushroom-balls|
As far as I know, the idea for zucchini noodles stems from raw food cuisine. There are multiple ways to turn a vegetable into noodle-y shapes. The easiest way, and one that requires no special tool beyond a vegetable peeler, is to shave fettuccine-like strips from the zucchini until you have a pile of shavings. I like to use a mandoline, which is an amazing slicing and dicing contraption used by Japanese chefs and others in-the-know. If you really want to get proprietary, then you can go for a spiralizer or other doodad specifically designed for making noodles and twirly strips from various vegetables. I have one that makes angel-hair like shreds, but I don’t have the kind that makes big, fat twirly udon-like noodles. I want one but am trying to curb my slightly ridiculous collection of single-purpose kitchen toys. If you are patient, you could just julienne the zucchini with your chef’s knife and no one would be the wiser.
|making the “pasta”|
What makes these noodles taste a little better than their raw cousins is a sweating and softening with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper in a wok or other large pan. The idea is not to fully cook them, but to let them drop their raw crunch and flavor ever so slightly. You need no oil for this step and it takes just a few minutes. The difference is palpable, if you ask me. I got pretty burned out on the raw zuchinni pasta after a while but I could eat these on a regular basis. They are tender and juicy and an ideal vehicle for fresh tomato sauce.
Zucchini ‘Pasta’ with Mushroom-balls
- 1/2 onion, chopped coarsley
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 head parsley
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 6 cups crimini mushrooms (or your favorite variety)
- 1 egg
- 1 cup flax meal
- 1 cup lentil, chickpea or other GF flour (I like bean flour for this for nutritional reasons)
- 1 TBS Italian Seasonings (combo of basil, oregano, marjoram, etc)
- 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
- large pinches of salt, black pepper & cayenne pepper
- Oil for sauté or frying (sunflower or grape seed for sauté, grape seed or rice bran oil for deep fry)
In a food processor, combine the onion, garlic, parsley, mushrooms, and nuts until they are chopped finely but not completely pulverized. Transfer into a mixing bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well by hand. It should resemble uncooked…meatloaf or meatballs. If it is still too soft, add more bean flour until you can scoop up a bit and shape it into a ball. The first time I made these there was more flour, and I was able to roll them in my hands into balls before I put them into the pan. The second time, I used a small ice cream scoop to drop the balls directly into the oil. It reminded me of making falafel.
|eerily similar to ground meat…thankfully it is not|
To cook, either put a small amount of oil in a heavy skillet to brown on each side, or do the naughty thing (like I did) and fill a small saucepan with a couple of inches of frying oil (like rice bran oil) and deep fry the suckers (this is where I veered drastically from any semblance of a cleanse). Both methods work just fine, although (surprise) the deep frying was a little bit tastier. I did not try baking these, but if you do…let me know how it worked out. In my raw food days I would have dehydrated the lot, but I wouldn’t have added egg, or lentil flour. What you are looking for is a firmed up ball that is golden brown.
If you can somehow have your sauce simmering at the same time as you are frying the mushroom-balls, then you must be a pro. I needed a helper in the kitchen to keep this meal under control.
fresh tomato sauce
- 1/2 onion, chopped finely (the other half)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 6 large ripe tomatoes, pulsed in a food processor or blender until they are chunky but slightly puréed.
- small amount of oil
- 1 tsp each of salt, sugar, red pepper flakes, dried basil, dried oregano, and balsalmic vinegar (or red wine if you’ve got one open)
- small handfulls of Fresh herbs: basil, parsely, oregano, etc
Sauté the onions and garlic in a small amount of oil. Add the tomatoes, salt, sugar, peppers, basil, dried herbs and vinegar or wine. Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. After you remove the sauce from the flame, add the fresh chopped herbs and set aside.
- 4 large, straight zucchini (or 2 per person)
- salt & freshly ground pepper
Using one of the methods previously described, turn your zucchini into noodles.Toss the lot into a wok, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sweat the crunchy raw qualities out, tossing the noodles about in the pan over a medium heat for about 3 minutes, or to your taste.
|sweating the zucchini|
Arrange a small amount of “pasta” on a bowl or plate. Top with a few mushroom-balls and a generous dollop of sauce. I like to sprinkle a combination of nutritional yeast, salt, garlic powder, hemp seeds and herbs (like a vegan-hippy parmesan cheese) over mine. Shaved Parmesan or Asiago is also devine…