You’ll want to eat it again and again.
FYI, I’m writing this as I take another bite of my tortellini salad with zucchini and peas—the dish that changed the way I eat zucchini. See, the recipe calls for shaving the raw zucchini into ribbons instead of spiralizing, and it’s everything I didn’t know I was missing. If you’ve tried zucchini noodles and were not impressed, zucchini ribbons might just be your new go-to.
It all started when I bought this janky spiralizer in college (because, hey, it was cheap) and it never worked properly. My zoodles always ended up smushy, soggy, and unappetizing. I never understood how Instagram was flooded with these stunning, perfectly noodled-zucchinis, and I was certainly not about to fork over the money for a pre-spiralized container at the supermarket. So, when I finally tried the life-changing tortellini salad, I discovered the key to a delicious zucchini-based noodle replacement.
When shaving zucchini into ribbons, you avoid the mushy seeds and insides. Don’t get me wrong—the core is totally edible and delicious when making zucchini breads or grilling zucchini, but when you want that substantial, pasta-like bite, ribbons are the way to go. In short, by shaving the zucchini into ribbons you get everything you want from the glorious veg, no spiralizer needed.
Let me explain. A forkful of the zucchini alone is akin to a very al dente tagliatelle, only with a little more vegetal bite and juiciness. The bright lemon dressing in this particular recipe clings to each ribbon perfectly, and enhances the delicately sweet flavor of the zucchini in a way that a heartier, warm sauce never could. Meanwhile, the addition of actual pasta (convenient, store-bought tortellini) adds a layer of decadence to the dish without weighing it down. It’s the ultimate summer salad.
If the taste isn’t enough to convince you, then the fact that these beautiful ribbons last forever in the fridge should. Ok, maybe not forever. But, this particular bowl of the salad I’m eating has been in my fridge for five days now (because #mealprep), and while the peas are almost too mushy to eat at this point... the zucchini held up beautifully. The vibrant, green color and refreshingly toothsome texture remains like magic.
Plus, the best part is, this easy zucchini prep trick need not be limited to this life-changing tortellini salad. Get creative and toss these babies around generously. Pasta is an approachable place to start. Adding more vegetables to pasta dishes helps bulk up meals with a good-for-you element, allowing you to cut down on carbs or even save a few bucks when you’re looking to serve the pricier prepared pastas, like tortellini or ravioli. I mean, I was able to stretch a 9-ounce bag of tortellini over four lunches… you can’t beat that.
So, the next time you find yourself with an abundance of zucchini (and it’s summer, so you definitely will), grab your peeler and go to town. Your zucchini ribbons will be perfect for bulking up a pasta dish like this summer veggie pasta, adding texture to pizza like this zucchini-ribbon pizza with chicken, or freshening up a burger like this zucchini burger. Once you get to ribboning, you’ll easily find a way to incorporate this summer staple into every meal.