A dish that makes spiralizing worth it

Creamy Zucchini Noodle Salad. Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey. Food styling for The Washington Post by Amanda Soto.

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Creamy Zucchini Noodle Salad. Photo for The Washington Post by Deb Lindsey. Food styling for The Washington Post by Amanda Soto.

I have been slow to spiralize. For one, I didn’t have a spiralizer - and didn’t really want another large tool cluttering up my countertop. Then there is the whole idea of using a vegetable instead of pasta. It might look close, but the taste and texture are anything but. And don’t get me started on the word “zoodles,” which I apologize for using and promise never to write again.

Yet zucchini are everywhere in the last gasp of summer, and it’s still too hot to really cook, so I caved in and bought a little handheld spiralizer. The reason? I wanted to make a zucchini-noodle dish that caught my eye in Kim-Julie Hansen’s new book, “Vegan Reset,” a guide to eating a plant-based diet for 28 days. The appeal of the recipe was twofold: It involves no cooking, and it’s cold. The latter quality makes it less of a pasta dish and more of a salad.

The spiralizer, small enough to fit into a drawer, reminds me of an oversize pencil sharpener: You just twist the zucchini (or any other long vegetable) into one end and julienned strips curl out the side. If you don’t have one, you can accomplish the same thing (with noodles that aren’t nearly as long, of course) with a vegetable peeler and a knife.

The noodles get tossed with mushrooms, scallions and cherry tomatoes and topped with walnuts. But the star is the sweet-tart dressing, a combination of avocado, mango, herbs and lime juice. It coats the zucchini - particularly once it’s cut into noodles - just beautifully.

Creamy Zucchini Noodle Salad

This no-cook dish uses avocado and mango for a vegan dressing on zucchini noodles.

If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can easily create the noodles with a vegetable peeler and a sharp knife.

SERVINGS: 4

INGREDIENTS

4 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

10 no-salt-added sun-dried tomatoes (oil- or dry-packed)

3 pounds zucchini (4 medium-large)

Flesh of 1 ripe avocado

Flesh of 1 small ripe mango

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish

1/4 cup fresh cilantro or parsley leaves

2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed

1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (see NOTE)

DIRECTIONS

Toss the mushrooms with the lemon juice in a mixing bowl and let them sit for 20 to 30 minutes. (This keeps them from being dry without cooking them.)

If your sun-dried tomatoes are not packed in oil, soak them in a cup of water for at least 20 minutes, then drain and squeeze out extra liquid. If they’re oil-packed, blot off extra oil with paper towels and skip the soaking. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.

Turn the zucchini into noodles using a spiralizer or a vegetable peeler. When you use the spiralizer, you may need to cut the noodles into manageable lengths; otherwise you’ll end up with super-long noodles that are difficult to separate into portions. If you use a vegetable peeler, cut off long wide strips, then cut the strips lengthwise into thin noodles.

Combine the avocado, mango, basil, cilantro or parsley, half the scallions, the lime juice and the salt in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth. Taste, and add more salt, as needed.

Drain the mushrooms and return them to the bowl; add the zucchini noodles, cherry tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and dressing, tossing to incorporate. Divide among plates and top with the chives, the remaining scallions, the toasted walnuts and a few more basil leaves.

NOTE: Toast the walnuts in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan to avoid scorching. Cool completely before using.

Nutrition | Per serving: 280 calories, 10 g protein, 31 g carbohydrates, 17 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium, 9 g dietary fiber, 20 g sugar

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Adapted from “Vegan Reset: The 28-Day Plan to Kickstart Your Healthy Lifestyle,” by Kim-Julie Hansen (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018).

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