RAW 101: Intro To Zucchini Pasta, and Three Preparations

August 12th, 2010 - filed under: The Food » Recipes


So you’re trying to eat more raw foods – which is awesome! Incorporating living foods into your diet is one of the easiest ways to increase nutrients and displace less desirables. It’s great for energy, clarity, and best of all it’s deliciously satisfying in a way that only truly nutritious food can be.

But, it’s often a hard sell for unenthusiastic partners, disinterested housemates, or ever-so-picky kids. And that’s why so many aspiring raw foodists end up quitting – it’s just so hard to make 2 entirely separate meals all the time!

But that’s what the ‘RAW 101′ series is all about: Raw recipes that easily assimilate into a cooked meal. And we’re starting off with one of the most important and fundamental raw techniques. Zucchini noodles!


The fancy-pants raw gourmands use a spiralizer to craft the most perfect pasta replicates. Someday I’ll have one too, but until then I’ll carve my noodles the old fashioned, low budget way – and you can too! Don’t let a lack of glitzy gizmos ever stop you from eating raw. You don’t *need* any of that stuff!

If you’ve got a potato peeler then you’re good to go. Simply wash your zucchini (I’ve used extra large green and yellow variaties in these photos) and begin peeling, being careful to keep each strip as long as possible. Rotate the zucchini as you peel.



Once the entire zucchini is peeled into pieces you have two choices. If you want, you can use a knife to slice the noodles skinny, more like a spaghetti. This can be pretty time-consuming, but makes for a more elegant presentation.



Me? I tend to leave my noodles alone. I prefer them wide and flat, more like a fettuccine.


Okay, now you’ve got your noodles, so what are you going to do with them?! Here I present three options: three RAW sauces that work equally well on cooked ‘real’ pasta. (I toss the sauce in the hot fresh pasta, which heats the sauce up.) No really, I promise – these are husband approved!

#1 – RAW Pesto

a large bunch of basil – about 3 cups packed
3/4 – 1 cup walnuts
1/3 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2-5 cloves garlic
s + p to taste

Put everything in a food processor and blend until smoothish. This recipe is very forgiving so feel free to adjust all flavors to taste. You can use arugula, spinach, or cilantro in place of the basil, and pine nuts or sunflower seeds in place of the walnuts, but each of these will change the flavor. The nooch is important though!


Garnish with fresh diced roma tomatoes or a handfull of hemp hearts. Sprinkle with extra nooch, or delicious Rawmesan, for more of a cheesy/parmesan-y flavor.

IMG_1049Whole wheat penne pesto, left, and zucchini with Raw Pesto, right.

#2 – RAW Puttanesca

4 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup halved raw olives or kalamata olives
1/4 cup diced white or yellow onion
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons capers + 1 tablespoon caper brine
2 tablespoon fresh herbs, like oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil, etc
1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (traditionally, puttanesca *should* have quite a kick to it)
2-5 cloves garlic, crushed
s + p to taste

Mix all ingredients in a big bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Allow to marinate at least 1 hour but ideally for 4+ hours. This is best when made in the morning to be served that night.


Puttanesca is traditionally served over spagetti and garnished with fresh parsley.

IMG_1238Spagetti alla puttanesca, left, and zucchini tossed in Raw Puttanesca, right.

#3 – RAW Vodka Sauce

2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup cashews, soaked
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
12 sundried tomato halves – actually dry, NOT oil packed
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dry Italian herbs OR 1 tablespoon fresh Italian herbs – oregano, thyme, marjoram, basil, etc
1/4 teaspoon salt
2-4 cloves garlic
juice of half a lemon

Place everything in a blender or food processor and blend until very smooth. Try not to make a huge mess of it, like I did.


These pictures just don’t do it justice, but this is both Damian and my favorite sauce. I could seriously eat this stuff with a spoon. Okay, I did seriously eat this stuff with a spoon. It’s especially delicious with extra nooch, or Rawmesan, sprinkled liberally on top.

IMG_1291Spagetti and vodka sauce, left, and zucchini with Raw Vodka, right.

Enjoy! Happy RAW adventures!

  • http://kiwimartini.wordpress.com/ Beens

    Hello! New to your blog, I found it through Offbeat Mama, I’m really enjoying what I’ve read so far!

    I’m very intrigued about eating raw foods, I’ve just moved to New Zealand where fresh, local produce is abundant and my body is yearning for a big plate of goodness. I’m used to drinking almond and hazelnut milks, but I’ve never made my own so it’s on my ‘do’ list! I’m definitely going to try out the zucchini once spring comes in.

    B x

  • Minna

    My mom grew heaps of zucchini this year, I can’t believe I haven’t thought of making zucchini noodle before! The noodles look amazingly “real”, too.

    I’m a total pasta-ignoramus (Is that even a word?! I couldn’t find anything better :D), which means that I only know how to make carbonara, and as a vegan I obviously don’t care about carbonara anymore. But I’m wondering – WHY is the last pasta called Vodka if it’s not in the ingredients?

    PS – THANKS SO MUCH for the recipes! Again :) Will definitely try all of these.

  • Cindy

    Sayward, you are so awesome. It’s great to see how responsive to your community you are, and how generous you are with yourself. This is exactly what I was looking for.

    As an aside, I’ve been working Saturdays, and have missed my market for 3 weekends in a row. Will you post any photos of your shopping trips any time soon? And update us on Waits? A weekly Waits is a beautiful thing!

    Have a beautiful weekend.

  • mh1

    Fantastic article! What is the purpose of the yeast in the pesto? My recipe is near identical aside from this and potentially pine nuts (or almonds if I’m short).

  • Amanda

    thank you, thank you! my husband and i are trying to incorporate more raw into our diet. we dont have a dehydrator and find it somewhat difficult to find easy and yummy recipes. i would love to see more of these posts and i can’t wait to try them :)

  • http://easierthanyouthink.wordpress.com Ginger Baker

    Oooh I’ve made a version like your Vodka sauce which I loved (with more focus on rosemary, we have tons in the garden, and I think I used bell peppers too iirc). I also am curious – why is it called vodka sauce when there is no vodka to be seen?

    Funny you should post this today, after hauling back a ton of zucchini from our CSA last night for the 3rd or 4th week in a row, raw pasta was on my mind. :-)

  • Francina

    You need a mandolin! You can get one at any cooking store or on amazon, but you could find a really cheap, plastic one at an asian food store that would work just fine. A mandolin would let you cut super thin slices quickly, or julienne. I use mine at work for occasional potato chip specials.

  • http://flightsofthevalkyrie.blogspot.com/ Valerie

    Ok I’m a total newb when it comes to raw so I have a very basic question: How do you warm up the zucchini pasta? Microwave? Is it soggy at all or does it stay mostly dry? Could you dehydrate zucchini strips & reconstitute them for zucchini noodles all year long? Also, can you suggest any beginner websites or books for someone interested in adding raw foods to their diet, who doesn’t want to go completely raw?

  • http://mutualmenu.blogspot.com Joselle

    Dinner tonight! Thank you for the inspiration. If I could answer mh1, the purpose of nutritional yeast is that it tastes amazing! I am completely addicted to the stuff and it gives a nice, salty, cheesiness to dishes.

  • http://contagioushealth.blogspot.com Melissa

    I just found your blog from G living and I LOVE it!
    As for the raw zucch pasta and the sauces..WOW! I must try these. I don’t have a spiralizer so I thought I was out of luck .Thank you for the reminder about the potato peeler!!

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Beens – Ooh! New Zealand is our #1 “America-went-o-hell-we’re-getting-outta-here” destination. Where did you move from? And how do you like it?

    @ Minna – Well, ‘vodka sauce’ is traditionally made with vodka. but the alcohol cooks off and you don’t actually taste it. (they say it brings out different flavors in the tomato.) Since you don’t taste the vodka in normal vodka sauce, I didn’t want to add any because you would definitely taste it in a raw sauce! Mostly I was just trying to replicate the flavor – a creamy red sauce – which is exactly what I got. Yum!

    @ Cindy – Aw, thank you for saying that. It’s good to hear! Also I’ll try to post markt photos soon. And a ‘Weekly Waits’ tonight!

    @ mh1 – Nooch (nutritional yeast) has a naturally ‘cheesy’ flavor, so it adds that parmesan-y element that other vegan pestos are missing. It’s also incredibly nutritious and mildly addictive – I LOVE it!

    @ Amanda – Yay, you’re welcome! And yes, definitely more raw posts on the way.

    @ Ginger Baker – Mmm yes, rosemary would be a great addition!

    See my response to Minna above for the vodka explanation. =)

    @ Francina – I *do* need a mandolin! Haha, would you believe I’ve never actually even seen one n person?!

    @ Valerie – No worries on n00b questions! =D We all have to learn sometime.

    You don’t actually heat the zucchini because you want them to remain raw! All of these dishes are eaten cold (or at least room temp). That’s definitely something you have to get used to when you eat raw foods – nothing is ever warm/hot!

    You can dehydrate zucchini but it changes the flavor, and you can do some really cool stuff with it. Like make zucchini ‘cheese’! But it doesn’t reconstitute in a way that would work for this recipe.

    Here are some of my favorite raw blogs, they all have recipes ranging from super simple to pretty darn complex, so poke around if you get a chance. There’s some incredibly inspiring and creative stuff out there in the raw food community!


    @ Joselle – Ooh let me know how you like it!

    @ Melissa – You’re welcome! And welcome! =D

  • http://kpapoulias.blogspot.com/ Kathryn

    mmm, summer squash pasta time! :D

  • Minna

    I made the zucchini noodle with Vodka sauce yesterday and it was so-so-so delicious. My boyfriend loved it too =) Woohoo!

    I couldn’t find sundried tomatoes without oil though so I used the regular ones in oil. The taste was still good. Why is it important to use sundried tomatoes that are actually dry?

  • http://mutualmenu.blogspot.com Joselle

    I didn’t have all the ingredients for the sauces or pestos so I made a sort of gazpacho with all the tomatoes I had on hand and mixed in zucchini noodles. It was delicious and refreshing.

  • http://kiwimartini.wordpress.com/ Beens

    I’m really enjoying it so far, although I’m still fairly new to the place, so the reality of being out here far from home hasn’t really sunk in yet. But everyone is very friendly, very laid back and it’s absolutely stunning.

    I came from the UK, I was in London for 7 years while I trained as a doctor, then decided that I could either continue on the doctor conveyor belt or take a risk and get on a plane. It’s working out well so far!

    Have a good week x

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Kathryn – TOTALLY

    @ Minna – So glad you liked it! The dried tomatoes will soak up some of the wetness in the sauce and keep it a bit heftier. It’s not a huge deal, as you discovered. ;-)

    @ Joselle – Sounds great! Yeah, these recipes are mostly just frameworks. They’re totally versatile and you can get so creative!

    @ Beens – Wow that’s quite a huge life switch! Way to go for have the guts to go for it and not get stuck in a path you’re not passionate about. Not many people can say they’d be able to do that. =)

  • MathTutor

    omg, omg, OMG! I made the Puttanesca and it was SOOOO GOOOD! Practically life changing and I can’t wait to make it, AGAIN! I cheated and put some mozzerella cheese on it, but i’m sure it would taste super good with some nooch on it (if I could find any).

    I am def. going to experiment with some more zucchini pasta recipes, i’m going to try the pesto one next! I also love pesto on new potatoes (I’m a pesto fanatic), so I’m sure it will be just as fantastic as the puttanesca :)

  • Meghan

    I am glad that Minna asked, I am always wondering why so often recipes stress using not-packed-in-oil sundried tomatoes. I can get ‘em not in oil, but they are waaaaay cheaper if I buy the jars from Trader Joes that are oil packed.

    Incidentally, do you have any idea about what like… volume that amount of sundried tomatoes are? My thrifty oil packed ones are in strips rather than halves.

    Sorry to be difficult, ha.

    I think I’ll try the vodka sauce today or tomorrow… probably with whole wheat pasta to start with though, my husband wasn’t thrilled the few times that I’ve made raw pasta.

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ MathTutor – Yay! I’m SO glad you liked it! Also, mmm pesto potatoes = win! =D

    @ Meghan – Hmmm, hard to say especially since I don’t have any on hand. Just from memory though, I’d guestimate it’s about 3/4 cup. Let me know how you like the recipe!

  • Meghan

    I actually had a bag of legit dried tomatoes that I bought while out o’ the country for cheap, so I did it that way. Uh… I should have paid attention and answered my own question. But about 3/4 of a cup sounds about right. It was really good! I think next time I’ll try it with the oil packed ones and just reduce the oil in the recipe. And put it on raw pasta instead o’ whole wheat. nomnomnom.

  • Kelly H.

    Great thread!

  • http://www.recklessculinarian.wordpress.com Michael

    Amazing. I just added you to my morning reading list! Mind if I link to you?

  • http://cooking-out-loud.com Hazel

    Really glad I found your blog and especially this post! Have a ton of zucchini on hand and adore pasta… perfect. I can’t wait to try the zucchini as well as one of the ‘toppings’. Excited!

    Thanks so much for posting this :)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Michael – Thanks, and I’d love a link!

    @ Hazel – Hope you like it!

  • http://uncooking101.com Eva Rawposa

    WOW, are you kidding! Win win win! Loving your recipes. LOL! I hope you are not pummeled over by my newbie enthusiasm over here. Great presentation, and even the last picture looks brilliantly yummy to me! :)

  • http://bonzaiaphrodite.com Sayward

    @ Eva Rawposa – Aww, thank you and I have to say DITTO! I’m a fan of your site as well, so yay! Funny, I was just reading someone who was talking about loving one of your recipes, and then here you are commenting on my site – woo hoo small blogosphere! =)

  • http://AfricaInside.org Lori

    Reading some of the comments one person asked why use nutritional yeast. It is used in raw foods to give a more cheesy flavor. And it works. Try with and with the yeast and you too will get it. Lori, AfricaInside.org

  • http://uncooking101.com Eva Rawposa

    Sayward — I missed your Love until just now — but am TOTALLY THRILLED to see it and feel it!!

    :-) xxo Eva

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  • Eva

    Finally made the vodka sauce. Holy Moly! Heaven in a bowl.