Garlic zoodles (gluten-free noodles)

paleo side dish: garlic zoodles

I thought pasta would be hard to give up. I was wrong. Zucchini noodles — or “zoodles” — are a darn tasty stand-in! And with an inexpensive, easy-to-use spiralizer, they make for a super quick, easy side dish. This one is so quick that I often add it to my lunch, when the main dish hasn’t quite filled me up.

Seriously; it will probably take you longer to read this post than it will to whip up the dish, once you’ve got your stuff lined up.

Another thing that makes this quick and easy is that I don’t measure. All my instructions here are for one serving, but this could easily be scaled up to serve more.


  • zucchini or yellow summer squash
  • butter, olive oil, or the fat of your choice
  • garlic clove(s) – 1 per person
  • salt and pepper
  • optional: Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, fresh basil

First, to make the zucchini noodles. You want these ready before you put anything on the stove.

This is the spiral cutter (or spiralizer) I use:

my favorite spiralizer

I like it because it’s very simple, and doesn’t take up a ton of storage space. You can see it has a smaller chamber for carrots and other thin veggies, and a larger one that works well for zucchini and summer squash.

spiralizer, top view

I got it at BB&B, but you can also order it from the comfort of your own home here!

It’s around $15 at both stores. (Using this link takes you to my store; I get a 4% cut [ha!] without any additional cost to you. But feel free to buy local, too!)

As I said, I won’t be giving measurements, but these before-and-after pics should give you an idea about how much I fix for just myself — probably about a third of a large zucchini:

spiraled zucchini

You can, if you like, gently press them between paper towels to remove some of the moisture, but that’s not essential. Some people recommend salting them to remove more moisture, but I find that just makes them soggier, because it breaks down the cell walls.

You’ll also need to mince one garlic clove.

Then heat a small frying pan over just-under-medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of butter, and an approximate equal amount of olive oil. You could use any alternate fat you like here — I know some people don’t include butter in their Paleo diet — but I really like the flavor combo of these two. I happened to have some basil butter in the freezer today, so that’s what I used, but plain butter is perfectly fine.


Or, as Ina Garten says,


Soon, the butter will begin to bubble. You can throw the zoodles in now, or you can wait a bit till the butter and garlic has browned just a bit. Both are shown here:

butter and garlic in pan

Letting things brown a bit will give a toaster, more complex flavor. You want to be careful, though: once garlic gets too brown, it turns bitter, and there’s nothing to do but throw it out and start over. So if you’re nervous — or just in a big hurry — feel feel to toss the zoodles in as soon as the butter is good and hot.

(Note: I haven’t made this with other fats, so I’m not sure what to expect, browning-wise, from coconut oil or bacon fat.)

Then just toss the noodles with the butter a few times; all you’re really doing is heating them up and softening them a tiny bit. Too long on the heat, and they’ll get mushy. Then taste, and add salt and pepper if necessary.

This shot was from a day when I didn’t let the garlic brown…

easy side dish: zoodles


And this is when I did:

paleo side dish: garlic zoodles

The second shot also has a sprinkling of black pepper and a few snips of fresh basil.

And here’s another day’s shot, with a little bit of Parm on top:

zoodles with parmesan

Pine nuts would be another nice addition!

How do you like your zoodles?


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