Going on a low-carb diet typically means giving up pasta, bread and other Italian staples. As odd as it may sound, zucchini can take the place of pasta in many homemade meals. Add your favorite toppings and sauces to zucchini "spaghetti," while increasing your vegetable intake and reducing carbs in your diet. Make zucchini spaghetti in the microwave to free up the stovetop for prepping the marinara or Alfredo to get dinner to the table quickly.
Use a spiral slicer to cut zucchini into spaghetti-shaped "noodles." Place the halved zucchini into the slicer and twist. Out comes long spiraled strands of zucchini. Without a spiral slicer, cut the zucchini into long noodle-like sections using a vegetable peeler, grater or julienne cutter. A mandoline or food processor with a grating blade also works, but will cut shorter pieces.
Salt the zucchini to extract water. Too much water will make the zucchini soggy when cooked. After allowing the salted zucchini to sit for a half hour or longer, rinse the salt away using a colander and press the zucchini between layers of paper towels to extract additional moisture.
After salting, extracting the water and draining the zucchini spaghetti, place it in a microwave-safe dish. Cover the spaghetti and heat according to the amount of zucchini cooking. For one or two zucchini, cook them on high for about two minutes, checking and stirring after each 30-second interval. For larger portions, increase the total cooking time while stirring frequently and checking for doneness. The zucchini is done when the spaghetti bends with some resistance but doesn't break from the crispness.
Top cooked zucchini spaghetti with marinara, meat or Alfredo sauce. Use meat sauce or meatballs in low-sugar homemade marinara for a low-carb version of a hearty Italian dish. For a variation, sauté vegetables in olive oil and garlic with basil and toss with the microwaved zucchini. Substitute parmesan crisps for garlic toast or add Italian link sausage.
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Andrea Lott Haney writes articles and training materials for food industry publications. Having studied foodservice sanitation, nutrition and menu planning at Purdue University, Lott Haney has more than 10 years of experience as a catering and event planner for luxury hotels and currently tours the Midwest as a corporate customer service trainer and consultant.