Whip It Up #5: RAW Italian-Style Zucchini Pasta Pesto

I must be cruising for a bruising. I’m already doing all my WIU recipes as vegan, despite the fact that I’m the cheesiest cheese eater this side of ‘Sconnie. But this week, the challenge topic was “fresh produce” and I decided to pull out the raw food cookbook I bought during the week my friend Creature inspired me to eat only raw food. (I don’t think I even lasted the week, actually.) Until now, there’s been very little in this cookbook that’s appealed to me, and a lot of stuff that I can’t make without shelling out for a dehydrator, which like so many vegetarian/vegan/raw foodstuffs and equipment, sounds unappetizing.

For those of you not in the know, a raw food diet means you only eat foods that have not been heated above 115°F, in the belief that above that temperature, vital enzymes are destroyed. You can be raw without being vegan, although they often go hand in hand, as raw meat-eaters are rare in the human population.

The purpose of this recipe is to use only fresh vegetables and herbs and make them resemble something that’s like a normal pasta dish. A cold pasta dish. It sort of works.

Raw Italian-Style Zucchini Pasta Pesto

serves one, twice

    All the ingredients

    All the ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, washed and dried
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/4 cup sea salt <— This was a highly unfortunate misprint! I think they meant 1/4 TEASPOON salt.
  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into thin strips to resemble spaghetti
  • 8-10 mushrooms, chopped
  • 4-6 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked until soft and cut into thin strips

Cut the zucchini into your strips that resemble pasta. If you don’t use a mechanical julienning tool to do this, cutting two zucchini should take about as long as it takes to watch one episode of season two of “The Wire.” When you’re done with the zucchini, soak your sun-dried tomatoes in some water and set aside. While that’s soaking, add the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic and salt into a food processor. Process. (I had a funny feeling that 1/4 of a cup of salt was too much, so I cut back to 1/8 of a cup, which was also TOO MUCH! I probably wouldn’t have even done that if it hadn’t been for the fact that last week I discovered my 1/4 cup measuring cup had a little notch inside it for measuring 1/8 of a cup, and I wondered when or if I’d ever be able to use that.)

When the processing is done, take your zucchini strips and put them in a stockpot full of water. Heat them on low, which will warm them to just above room temperature, and should also help them get softer.

While they’re heating, chop the mushrooms and the tomatoes. When the zucchini is at a temperature and softness you like, pull them out of the water and put them on a plate. You don’t need to drain them throughly, because it’s best if the zucchini is still a little wet. Top with the mushrooms, tomatoes and pesto sauce.

That's Australian for "not cooked."

That's Australian for "not cooked."

Because raw food has a tendency to feel un-fulfilling (unless you’re masticating properly), serve with a 40 of Foster’s. That should fill you right up.  A mango for dessert is so delicious, it will almost make you think you can live raw for the rest of your life.  Until you wake up the next morning craving scrambled eggs.

I hear you have some questions for me…

Was the recipe easy to follow?
Yes, but thank goodness I was smarter than the recipe, and didn’t add 1/4 cup of salt! Sadly, I wasn’t smart enough to just mix the pesto and add salt to my taste. I suppose I figured that the salt was going to be really helpful in the absence of heat, and there was a reason there was so much of it. Other than that, the only mildly difficult thing was cutting all that zucchini.

Did the dish taste good?
The salt, have I mentioned there was too much of it? I actually couldn’t finish my helping because it was eating Lot’s wife with a chaser of the Atlantic Ocean. Other than that, the bites that weren’t smothered in salty pesto were actually pretty good! I honestly cannot say that strips of zucchini have the same deliciousness as real pasta, but they stood in better than I expected. The mix of garlic, basil and sun-dried tomatoes is so tasty, it moves along even the rawest of meals.

Would you make it again?
Perhaps. I’d like to taste it without the salt snafu. One thing that would hold me back is the fact that the cutting of the zucchini took so long and kind of hurt my hand. Also, I love pasta, and I’d never be able to give it up. Also, despite the fact that I think fresh veggies are good for people, I don’t subscribe to the theory that cooking food “destroys all valuable enzymes.” But if my friend Creature were ever to come visit for the night, this would without a doubt be on the menu.

18 responses to this post.

  1. A quarter cup of salt! Do they think adding a salt lick to your dish will maybe distract you from the fact that you are definitely NOT eating pasta?

    It does look really pretty though.

  2. mmmm. Lot’s wife.

  3. “I actually couldn’t finish my helping because it was eating Lot’s wife with a chaser of the Atlantic Ocean.”

    HA. I snorted in a very unprofessional way at that one.

  4. I cannot believe you just said “Sconnie.” I thought only Minnesotans did that.

  5. That looks reeeeeally good!

  6. It’s me, the Creature who inspired you! Can I come over for dinner? Jeeze, I’m really impressed with your open mind. Not many people purchase a cookbook, don’t like it, and still try recipes from it later down the line. I wonder if your tastes are changing … Mwaaa ha ha ha! Eat more raw food. You don’t have to be 100%, but I bet everyone will get a little pep, a little lightness from just eating “more raw food”. Just a guess!

  7. Posted by Sarah on August 7, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Wow, zucchini as a stand-in for pasta? I never would have guessed. But since you’re a pasta enthusiast, I’ll trust your judgement that it was a serviceable substitute.

  8. Posted by sadieandleo on August 7, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    I will pass this one on to my sister… she is completely vegan and about 98% raw. Thanks!

  9. I never would have thought of substituting zucchini for pasta. Brilliant! And good job catching that typo — that would have been one salty dish.

  10. Eating only raw food creeps me out, just a bit. But the “pasta” did look good!

    I can’t believe the eds didn’t catch the 1/4 cup of salt. Yikes!

  11. Wow! Maybe that’s what I can do with all the zucchini!

  12. A Foster’s huh?!!

    Now that I did not see coming…

  13. Once I made cookies with baking soda instead of baking powder. Or vice versa. They were gross.

    I like salt.

  14. This looks fantastic and I love how you put the mushrooms around the outer edge. Definitely my kind of dish!

  15. Raw food recipes kind of intimidate me but I’ve always wanted to try it. Thanks for the recipe…

    and you’ve got some serious presentation skills!

  16. A good pesto must always have a good pasta!

  17. That looks sooooo beautiful!

    Too bad I hate zucchini and mushrooms, and too bad pesto makes me sick.

    heh. 😀

  18. Posted by FarmSchooler on August 23, 2009 at 2:30 am

    You need to get a Spiralizer from http://www.rawgourmet.com/shop/saladacco-spiral-slicer-p-181.html Makes making the pasta SUPER simple and they are on sale right now I believe (Aug 23, 9)

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