Zucchini Pasta With Shrimp

(We have been looking into some lower carb options (despite, or possibly because of, loving them all too well) so when this recipe showed up in Marie’s Facebook feed, she decided it was worth a shot.)

The ingredients list also gave me a faint sense of hope that our son might give it a fair trial, as it contains three of the four green things he will eat: zucchini, avocado, and pistachios. As is often the case, he swiped some of the raw zucchini during the prep work.

He’ll also eat broccoli. I thought about incorporating some, but decided that three should be plenty.

Original source: Eating Well.

Ingredients (with my changes added parenthetically)

5-6 medium zucchini (2¼-2½ pounds total), trimmed (I wound up using only 4)
¾ teaspoon salt, divided
1 ripe avocado
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves (I was lazy and got the basil paste)
¼ cup unsalted shelled pistachios (I bought them in the shell on sale to save money beccause I didn’t want a large bag of pistachios in the hosue; it was tedious and I should probably have just bought the bag and eaten the overage)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus 2 tablespoons, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound raw shrimp (21-25 count), peeled and deveined, tails left on if desired (I used half a pound as my son has been inconsistent on whether he likes shrimp or not)
1-2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning (I used the Penzeys Cajun seasoning mix)

Using a spiral vegetable slicer or a vegetable peeler, cut zucchini lengthwise into long, thin strands or strips. Stop when you reach the seeds in the middle (seeds make the noodles fall apart). [I used a spiralizer and got lots of really nice long noodles despite the seedy middles breaking up]
Place the zucchini “noodles” in a colander and toss with ½ teaspoon salt. Let drain for 15 to 30 minutes, then gently squeeze to remove any excess water. [seriously don’t skip this step – I let the noodles drain 45 minutes, squeezed and patted them dry, and was still a little concerned about the amount of juice created while cooking and after they were put in the bowl. Possibly it was the moister seedy middles, come to think of it…]
Meanwhile, combine avocado, basil, pistachios, lemon juice, pepper and the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. [after the fact it occurred to me that a few crushed pistachios that hadn’t been pureed might have been a nice addition to the texture, so set aside a few more if you think you’d agree] Add ¼ cup oil and process until smooth.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds [as always be careful not to let the garlic burn]. Add shrimp and sprinkle with Old Bay; cook, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp is almost cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add the drained zucchini noodles and gently toss until hot, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the bowl, add the pesto and gently toss to combine.

Serve and eat this immediately. It’s not suitable for leftovers or lengthy delays. The pesto sauce, however, would also be suitable for a dip, or over regular pasta noodles, or spread on toast. I will have to fiddle around with it and see what else it’s useful for.

For those interested in what the five-year-old had to say, he ate most of his (admittedly fairly small) portion despite two yucks and a gagging noise. So it wasn’t a total flop on his end, and perhaps with repeated exposure he’ll warm to it. Mind you, he was pretty hungry and ate everything else on his plate as well.

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