Late September is exactly the time of year when you hear that joke about never leaving your car unattended on the street with the windows open, because you might return to find it full of zucchinis. As the last warm days of autumn come to an end, a forgotten squash can turn into a behemoth before you know it.  Those big, mature beasts are not as versatile as their smaller siblings, and so a winter’s supply of zucchini loaf is the common way of dealing with the sudden gift of a squash the size of a small bus (because you couldn’t cut it up and put it on the compost pile – oh no! – somebody grew it from seed, after all, and you wouldn’t want to waste it …).  I will never forget the year when my sister, in a moment of confused but unbridled enthusiasm, planted a row of zucchini plants and one pumpkin plant, rather than the other way around.  That was the year we (actually, “I” ) made a gazillion loaves of raw-in-the-middle zucchini bread — inexperience’s finest hour.

If you can catch those last zucchini before they exceed about 12 inches in length with a demure diameter, or even if you have a giant to contend with, you can render the squash into noodles, and have some mighty fine eating.   You can utilize many of the recipes that have already appeared in this blog, too!

There are several ways to turn your zucchini into noodles.  My favorite is my mandolin slicer, which generates strands with almost the dimensions of spaghetti.  If I use the cross-cutting blade with the wider teeth, I can get something like fettucini.

If you Google “Zucchini noodles”, you can see a whole array of kitchen play-toys:  there are gizmos that look like souped-up potato peelers, and other gizmos that spiral cut with the turn of a handle.  If you’re not into gizmos all that much, or don’t like toys that won’t multi-task, you can simply peel thin strips off a zucchini with your regular old vegetable peeler, making them thick or thin, narrow or wide, at your artistic discretion.

Aided by the bounty of the Farmer’s Market, I sampled every size of zucchini I could find.

That’s a “Big Bertha” on the top,

a 12-inch,

and an 8-inch (my favorite kind).

When you are “noodling” a zucchini, it’s best to leave the core behind, even if the zucchini is quite small and firm.  The core is soft and spongy and cooks down to watery mush.  With smaller zucchini, up to about 12 inches long and no more than 2 inches in diameter, it’s easy to strip the noodles off the outside and leave the core behind.

With the Big Bertha’s, however, it’s better to cut a section about 8 to 10 inches long, quarter it, strip out the seedy pith, and “noodle” the firm outer pieces.  The skin is edible, even on the big guys, and very attractive too. You likely won’t want to “noodle” the whole thing —  shred some for chocolate zucchini muffins.  One thing I noticed, though, is that the bigger the zucchini, the more it “weeps” when cut (like the one to the right, snapped about 5 minutes after cutting), so I would recommend making the time from “noodling” to cooking a big zucchini pretty short.

With the little guys, you can cut the noodles 24 hours in advance, if you were planning a party, say, and wanted to get some of the prep out of the way the day before – that’s what I did.

Zuccini Noodles in Browned Butter


Zucchini noodles from an 8 to 12-inch squash

2 Tbsp butter

Salt and pepper to taste, and maybe some herb blend

It doesn’t get much easier than this!

Heat the butter in a fairly big frying pan over medium high heat until it stops foaming actively and starts to brown around the edges.

Add your zucchini noodles; stir to coat.  Let them sit undisturbed for 10 – 15 seconds.   While they’re sitting there, season with salt and pepper (go easy on the salt), and the optional dried herb blend, or some fresh herbs if your garden is still bountiful.

Turn them over and let them cook for another 15 seconds. That’s it!  Ready to eat! They really don’t need to “cook” as much as simply heat through.  They’re forgiving only up to about 45 seconds,  so don’t walk away!  Thicker noodles take just a little longer than thin skinny ones do.

Zucchini Noodles in (any kind of) Sauce


Zucchini noodles from an 8 to 12-inch squash

¼ to ½ cup of any sauce I have ever blogged about (Peanut Sauce, Alfredo Sauce, cheese sauce in any flavor from the mac and cheese recipe, Teriyaki sauce) or any bottled sauce you like (curry maybe?), including tomato sauce from a jar or even slightly thinned canned mushroom soup (not my first choice, but some folks like it).

This is alfredo sauce.  Really, I swear!


Heat the sauce in a medium frying pan until it is simmering.  Add the zucchini noodles and stir to coat. Continue heating for about 30 seconds.  Thin noodles cook a little faster than thick ones.  Be careful not to over-cook or they’ll turn to mush.  Turn out onto a warm plate and enjoy dinner.

This is very, very fast food.

Zuccini Noodles Alfredo, with Shrimp and Mushrooms

Cold Zucchini Noodles

If you are using a nice, young, firm zucchini to make your noodles, you can dress them with vinaigrette and use them as the basis of a lovely salad.  Toss them with just enough vinaigrette to coat; let them rest for a few minutes to soften (the salt in the vinaigrette will draw out some of the water), then add whatever other veggies you have on hand.  You could combine zucchini noodles with similar noodles cut from a cucumber, finely shredded cabbage (green or red), some grated carrot and whatever fresh herbs you have for a different take on “slaw” – dress it with vinaigrette, or a little mayonnaise mixed with yogurt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Other Zucchini Noodle Ideas:

Make Chicken with Lemon and Capers.  Take the chicken out of the pan, and make the sauce; put the zucchini noodles into the pan sauce and reduce the heat to low.  Turn to coat, cook until hot (less than 30 seconds if thin) and serve with the chicken on top.


Make a serving of hot tomatoes.  Just as the tomatoes start to pop, add the zucchini noodles, turning to coat with whatever oil and juices are in the pan.  Serve all together, topped with grated cheese or dotted with goat cheese or ricotta.

And the big bonus?  You’ll be SO healthy, you’ll hardly be able to stand yourself!  We all need to eat more vegetables, and zucchini noodles are a delicious way to get it done!

Special thanks to Kylie for her willing and discerning tastebuds, and outstanding photographic skills!