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‘Zucchini’ is a euphonious word and lends itself to funny rhyming, which makes it (relatively speaking) a popular vegetable for children’s book writers.  A zucchini patch thrives without tender care.  Neglect produces giants.  (A zucchini festival in the state of New York featured ‘zukeaerobics’, substituting vegetables for dumbbells.)  And is there any dish that has not been ‘zucchinied’?  If so, ice cream is not one of them–recipes for it abound.

All in all, the zucchini is a simple, obliging member of the plant kingdom:  it will amuse; flourish untended; and let itself be subjected to every innovative whim of a cook.  In keeping with its character, it is at its simple best when simply cooked.

An instance of this is Zucchini ‘Noodles’.  ‘Cook’ is perhaps overstating what you do to the vegetable–really you only apply heat for a minute or two.  The fresh Tomato Sauce is cooked–just barely–as well.

Zucchini ‘Noodles’ with fresh Tomato Sauce (for 8 people)


  • 2 pounds of zucchini
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of Passata (sieved tomatoes)
  • 1 pound of fresh tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme, fresh or dried
  • a little olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan


  • a large flat-bottomed pan or wok
  • a heavy saucepan

1.  To each zucchini:  Cut the vegetable in half.  Cut off both ends to form flat bases.  Stand each half on end and cut down through it in very thin slices:

2.  Make stacks of slices, cut them in thin strips, and set them aside:

3.  Make the fresh Tomato Sauce:

4.  Bring some water to boil in a pot.  Drop in the tomatos and leave them there for about a minute.  Drain and run the tomatos under cold water or put them in a bowl of ice water for a minute.  Then peel them, cut them in half, remove the seeds, and cut the flesh into small pieces.

5.  Heat a little olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Add the onion and garlic and cook them a little.  Take the pan off the heat to cool down some, then add the Passata.  (This way, the sauce is less likely to spatter.)  Cook the sauce for about 5 minutes.  Then add the tomato cubes and thyme and (maybe) some salt and pepper.

6.  Heat a little olive oil in a wide, flat-bottomed pan or a wok.  When it is hot, add the zucchini strips and cook them, moving them about in the pan with a spatula, for a couple of minutes.  They should remain crisp.

7.  Divide the zucchini among plates.  Add a little sauce and grated Parmesan to each mound of ‘noodles’.

A Note:  Zucchini ‘Noodles’ is adapted from a recipe in the Austrian cooking journal, Gusto.  It appears in the Dinner Menu:  Dinner at Summer’s End.

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011