Using vegetables in place of pasta has caught on! A trip to the local supermarket, or even the corner store, reveals pre-cut, or “spiralized” vegetables for sale that closely resemble pasta but without the calories, carbs, or gluten. These vegetable options are great sources of fiber and a huge time-saver because they cook in no time! They’re also great at absorbing all of the flavors you cook with, like in this Thai Chicken and Zucchini Noodle Salad is a great way to try them out!
When cooking with zucchini noodles (“zoodles”), the pre-cut options in the store can be more expensive and not everyone has the fancy kitchen tool needed to take a simple zucchini or pieces of squash and turn it into the gorgeous, long curly noodles that mimic pasta. Good news: You don’t need that specific kitchen tool to make those long tendrils for cooking! In fact, you can get the same effect by grating those same vegetables on the long side of a box grater or, even faster, using the grating plate in your food processor.
I love using “zoodles” in dishes–they add a great texture and incredible flavor. I have used them in many, but my favorites is this Thai Chicken and Zucchini Salad that uses Thai flavors. It’s so easy, it makes the perfect lunch or summer dinner when it’s too hot to cook!
Using rotisserie or leftover chicken cuts down the prep time, and the vegetables in this dish add fiber, flavor and texture. Any of the seasonings can be adjusted according to taste–or make you own combinations of flavors and experiment! The zucchini noodles can hold up to sauces and seasonings and don’t wilt or get soggy quickly.
This salad also holds up in the refrigerator, so you can make the vinaigrette in advance and set it aside to add on your salad right before you’re ready to eat. Swap out the chicken for tuna, salmon, or leftover beef or pork. Or, add in a poached or scrambled egg, or tofu–the possibilities are endless!
Thai Chicken and Zucchini Noodle Salad
- 2 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons honey (I always prefer natural honey from the Tanis Apiary in New Jersey!)
- 1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 3 green zucchini, “spiralized” into noodles, food processed or grated into shreds
- 1 cooked chicken breast (poached, baked, grilled or rotisserie), shredded
- 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
- 2 carrots, shredded
- 1 cup kale, shredded
- ½ cup green onions, diced
- 1 cup shelled edamame
- 1 cup Napa or red cabbage, shredded
Chopped fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts, chopped walnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds, toasted sesame seeds, pomegranate seeds, and/or fresh sprout
- Prepare the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk the rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, honey, lime juice, garlic, green onion, sesame seeds, salt and pepper until combined. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, add the zucchini noodles, chicken, tomatoes, carrots, green onions, edamame, kale and cabbage. Toss to combine.
- Drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the salad and toss again to coat.
- Garnish with cilantro, nuts, seeds, or sprouts.
- If making in advance: Prepare the salad and store in a closed container. Store the vinaigrette separately. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad immediately before serving.
Featured photo by Laura Johnston