Five months later, after languishing in the back hall closet unboxed and completely untouched, the spiralizer that I got for my birthday finally made its debut appearance. It’s not that I didn’t want it- I had put it on my wish list after all- But between a lack of time and a leaning towards heartier, simpler, cooked foods, such a frivolous contraption seemed utterly out of place in a winter kitchen. Amazing how things change! Now that the temperature is pushing 90, with humidity enough to swim through the air, the idea of raw vegetable noodles sounded too appealing to resist. Seizing the opportunity to finally play with my new toy, a cool and refreshing dish made almost entirely of cucumber sounded utterly perfect in the heat of midday.
Almost too simple to even mention, but absolutely too delicious not to, into my bowl went one spiralized English cucumber (peeled), a dollop of homemade walnut pesto, a handful of grape tomatoes, and a light drizzle of avocado oil to bring it all together. Lunch was ready in 5 minutes flat, and I was astounded at how satisfying my bowl of green was.
Replicating these noodles without a fancy gadget would be no sweat, too! Just use a regular vegetable peeler to make thin, flat noodles, or step it up a notch and break out a julienne peeler to make something more akin to spaghetti.
The secret to speeding through this dish is making the pesto in advance and freezing it in cubes. I use a really small tray of ice cube dots, so it’s very convenient to grab 3 or 4 for a dish of cucumber noodles, or just 1 to spread on toast. It’s nice to have the flexibility to use exactly as much as it takes to cover the job.
Though I hardly feel that the world needs yet another pesto recipe, just in case you’re curious, this is the way I do it. Forever petrified of getting pine mouth, I tend to avoid pine nuts, and thus lean on walnuts to take their place here. A tiny drizzle of olive oil might be necessary to get the mixture smooth, but just play it by ear; I found it to be the perfect consistency without any added fat.
1/4 Cup Walnut Pieces
1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
3 Cloves Garlic
2.5 Ounces Fresh Basil, Rinsed
Juice of 1 Lemon (About 1/4 Cup)
Tiny Pinch Ground Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper, to Taste
Toss the walnuts, nutritional yeast, and garlic into you food processor or blender first, and pulse for 30 seconds or so to combine. Make sure that no large chunks of garlic remain, and scrape down the sides of the bowl thoroughly before proceeding. Add in the basil, and pulse to break down the largest leaves before slowly drizzling in the lemon juice. Continue to pulse until the mixture is a fairly rough puree. Add in the nutmeg, salt and pepper as desired. Incorporate a tablespoon or two of oil if needed to achieve your desired consistency, or just leave as is. Use immediately or freeze into ice cubes. Once frozen solid, transfer the cubes into a zip-top bag or air-tight container. Will keep in the freezer for 3 – 4 months.