Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
17 Jul

Summer Squash Noodles

Sometimes chefs seem like magicians. How else could they transform food into shapes and flavors that seem impossible to replicate at home? Training, yes, but let’s also not forget that just like every good magician has a few props, (a double-sided quarter here, some disappearing ink there) so does a good chef. Maybe the perfectly sliced and diced vegetables on your plate were the work of a well-trained prep cook, but it’s just as likely they were quickly cut on a nifty device called a mandoline.

Using a mandoline, almost any fruit or vegetable can be easily sliced into perfectly symmetrical shapes. A mandoline makes you look like a pro without even trying and even better than that, keeps life interesting in the kitchen. Tired of tomatoes? Try slicing them paper-thin on a mandoline and they’ll melt in your mouth. It will be like tasting tomatoes again for the first time. Already bored to death with all the zucchini coming out of your garden? Get out the mandoline. This recipe for summer squash noodles will quickly become a favorite; especially for those looking for a low carb pasta substitute.


1 summer squash per person
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
olive oil


For this recipe, zucchini works better than yellow summer squash because it is less watery and has fewer seeds. If you do use yellow squash, first scrape the seeds out with a knife so the inside is smooth. You can peel the squash if you want to create the most realistic looking noodles possible. Otherwise, leave the peel on for the added color and ease of preparation.

This is an easy recipe, but to really get it right you need to plan ahead a little. First, use the thin julienne setting on a mandoline to slice the zucchini into thin strips similar to spaghetti. Next, the “noodles” need to dry out or the texture will be mushy when you sauté them. Ideally, leave them on your counter for at least 3 hours. If you want to prep the dish in the morning for dinner, wrap the noodles in paper towels and leave them in the fridge while you’re at work all day.

After the noodles lose some of their moisture, warm olive oil and garlic in a pan and sauté the noodles just a few minutes to heat and coat with oil. That’s it!

Dress up the zucchini noodles and serve just like you would pasta. Add other sautéed vegetables (red onion, tomato, mushrooms) or use pesto as a sauce. For more flavor and protein, cut a chicken breast into strips and sauté with oil and garlic. As soon as the chicken is cooked through, add the zucchini noodles and sauté for a few minutes more.

This recipe is possible even if you don’t own a mandoline (use a knife to thinly slice the zucchini) but it’s a lot easier with one. You can buy a mandoline for as little as $20, but if you’re going to use it with any regularity seriously consider investing in a more expensive model. Cheaper versions make cutting vegetables more difficult and cutting your fingers a lot more likely. If you’re prone to kitchen mishaps, a safer investment might be a spiral slicer.

Give this recipe a whirl and let us know what you think in the comment board!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. A super-easy way of making squash “noodles” is with a julienne peeler (you can find them at Bed Bath & Beyond for about five bucks). I read about it on a low-carb recipe site, picked one up and tried it on zucchini. AWESOME.

    Trish wrote on July 17th, 2009
  2. This is basically what we had for dinner last night, although I just cut the squash into circles, saute, and then used chicken and some spaghetti sauce. We had some honeydew on the side and the kids kept saying how good dinner was. They didn’t miss the pasta AT ALL.

    Barb wrote on July 17th, 2009
  3. I might make this tonight, since the people I’m with are making home-made thai (i.e. pad thai, curry, glass noodle salad). I can use mostly the same seasoning, but use different squashes as the ‘noodles’. Perfect timing! Thank!

    Jane wrote on July 17th, 2009
  4. Looks delicious. I’m always looking for ways to make primal versions of non primal food and this is awesome. It would go great with some bolognese sauce or thai green curry both of which I have leftover from dinners this week!

    Thanks for the inspiration once again…..

    Chris - ZTF wrote on July 17th, 2009
  5. I’ve also seen a “lasagna” made with thinly-sliced broad strips of zucchini in place of the broad noodles.

    How come no mention of spaghetti squash? I’d particularly like to know how to keep that from releasing a bunch of water on my plate…

    gcb wrote on July 17th, 2009
  6. What a great idea! I’ve been trying to get my two year old to eat more veggies. This will definitely do the trick. Thanks!

    Mike M wrote on July 17th, 2009
  7. Mark – Very interesting. Re spaghetti squash, it’s wonderful baked … add a bit of molasses … and tamari … yum.

    Thanks for the pic of you doing lunges on the beach with water bottles. VERY helpful idea at the moment. (Now, where can we buy water bottles?)

    George Beinhorn wrote on July 17th, 2009
  8. I make zucchini noodles all of the time as a pasta replacement using the spiral slicer. It works incredibly well and the result are very long spaghetti strands, up to 2 feet long! I put the zucchini strands on a baking sheet in a very low temperature oven (200 F) for half an hour. This dehydrates them just enough without shrivelling. Then put whatever pasta sauce on top. Yum!

    Deb wrote on July 17th, 2009
  9. For those that don’t have the mandolin try spaghetti squash -already in spaghetti form.. Heres one to try.

    Cut squash in half and roast until tender.
    Fork out into large bowl….it should come out just like spaghetti. Allow to cool.
    add steamed and chilled broccoli chopped fine,diced red peppers, raw carrot slivers, frozen peas, 2 cloves raw garlic chopped fine and crumbled bacon.

    Drizzle with olive oil, salt pepper serve chilled.

    joe s wrote on July 17th, 2009
  10. Mark, where did you purchase the mandoline?

    tee wrote on July 17th, 2009
  11. I had spaghetti squash with meatballs, homemade marinara sauce, and sauteed green beans from my garden for dinner last night and lunch today! It was delicious. We’re about to have an abundance of zucchini and yellow squash though, so I just may have to get a mandolin. Hey Mark, maybe you could give away a fancy one as a challenge prize!

    hannahc wrote on July 17th, 2009
    • Good thought, hannahc. I’ll see what I can do.

      Mark Sisson wrote on July 17th, 2009
  12. I always use squash or broccoli to deliver my italian sauces on. Frozen works well in a bind..

    gfly wrote on July 17th, 2009
  13. The Spirooli 3 in 1 will work also.

    AJP wrote on July 17th, 2009
  14. Guys, I’ve got to admit I’ve never heard of this. It looks absolutely delicious though! As a kid, I never ate any squash produce, but as an adult I’ve learned just how much I enjoy this vegetable. I’m going to give this a shot this weekend!

    Greg at Live Fit wrote on July 17th, 2009
  15. I do this often. It’s great in any way you might make pasta (i.e., with tomato sauce, butter/oo/garlic/, etc). I’ve never dried them out and it seems to work fine (at least with zucchini). Mmm!

    Alex wrote on July 17th, 2009
  16. I made this last night but used very thin slices of squash, zucchini, eggplant and mushroom, coated in EVOO and baked in the oven. Topped it with a light marinara and roasted pine nuts. Oh my, so good.

    Melissa wrote on July 17th, 2009
  17. Thanks for the tip to dry them first! That’s what I have been doing wrong. Looks yummy!

    Yummy wrote on July 17th, 2009
  18. I have SOOOOO much squash in my garden!! Zucchini, butternut, acorn, spaghetti, tons of the stuff! My very non-primal boyfriend loved the spaghetti squash so much last year we planted like 3 of them this summer. I hadn’t tried this with the other squashes though, but I will! The spaghetti squash isn’t ready yet, but the zucchini is and I might just do this for dinner!

    Erin wrote on July 17th, 2009
  19. I make veggie pasta using the spirooli 3 in 1 slicer. I then make a pesto and toss them with the raw pasta. It is great! I sometimes use a combination of zuchinni and butternut squash together. It makes for a beautiful presentation.

    All raw ingredients with live enzymes going down the hatch! LOL

    Helen wrote on July 17th, 2009
  20. Mark, do you want to recommend a mandoline? I get overwhelmed with choices. I don’t mind spending for a good one, but I don’t even know where to begin when I head to that-large-internet-retailer-with-the-same-name-as-a-South-American-river. Thanks in advance.

    Andrea wrote on July 17th, 2009
  21. I am making this for dinner tonight, using zucchini and summer squash (and I’m adding meatballs made from ground chicken)! I must have a cheap mandoline, though, because my zucchini really ended up looking more appropriate for hash browns than for noodles, so I did the summer squash by hand. But, it’s going to be delicious, and now I have a new idea for brunch!

    Deanna wrote on July 19th, 2009
  22. Mandoline? Oh, a plantain slicer.

    Bought one at Best Lots a few years ago for $2. Adjustable thickness, all figured out some clever Central Americans.

    I gave spaghetti squash and commercial sauce on it to the old folks. They loved it and were quite taken with the idea. I just put Italian sausage on mine, that sauce had HFCS AND sugar in it. And soy. My folks don’t care.

    OnTheBayou wrote on July 19th, 2009
  23. Just be careful using the mandoline, regardless of whether it is expensive one or not. I sliced the tip of my finger off this past winter while using mine- not a pleasant experience – and what’s worse, I could not even enjoy my primal dinner!
    My husband had dinner with chefs Daniel Bouloud & and Paul Bartalotta –they’ve done the same thing–so whether you are a home cook or a pro please be careful!
    That being said, they are wonderful tools!

    marci wrote on July 20th, 2009
  24. Just made this using the Swissmar Julienne blade! Turned out beautiful and I spent 15.00 U.S dollars for three different blades that came packaged together. GREAT DEAL, the saleslady first showed me a 299.00 dollar mandoline, I think not!

    Thanks Mark

    Here a picture of them,

    clayberg wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  25. Just made this for company last night. Our guests liked it so much they asked for the recipe. We used 2 zucchini, red onion, and tomato in real olive oil and fresh garlic.

    John Sifferman wrote on July 25th, 2009
  26. I was a sedentary garbage disposal…and that was my good quality. :) Anyway, I have taken great strides over the last 6 months, adhering to the low glycemic index/load theories.

    I am slowly moving to the primal side of things.

    Tonight I made this recipe…it was EXCELLENT! Another carb source has been REMOVED!

    Thanks Marcus!


    Steve Cooksey wrote on July 29th, 2009
  27. To take the moisture out of the zucchini you can place the strips on a tissued plate and sprinkle with sea salt, this will bleed the zucchini of it’s water content, takes about 30 minutes.

    Patrick wrote on January 21st, 2010
  28. I used the tip of baking the zuchinni noodles in the oven at 200 for 30 minutes last night. It worked like a charm. Thanks Deb.

    Amanda wrote on March 29th, 2011
  29. My friends have summer squash coming out of their gardens like crazy, and I’ve been the happy recipient of a lot of their bounty! I love it sauteed, stuffed, you name it! My MIL slices it into circles and freezes it, however it really doesn’t thaw well — very mushy and watery. But with this recipe… hmm… since the squash is thin-sliced and dried a bit, I wonder if it would fair better in the freezer? Has anyone tried it? I’m thinking how awesome it would be to have locally-grown veggie “noodles” all year long!

    Susan wrote on July 11th, 2011
    • I wonder how they would dehydrate then freeze? then maybe rehydrate when you go to use them? just sayin’?

      tcseacliff wrote on July 11th, 2011
  30. Hi
    When i eat zuchinni I rinse it i eat organic bc im eating the skin cut it in circles and then in half i put olive oil in the pan garlic, red wine,and orageno sautee it and wala!! i have a great dish i have a couple pieces of whole wheat italian bread and there is my dinner ..yummy!!!!

    i like that better than pasta bc i have high cholerestol from the pasta… and thats just as good but more healthy…..

    oulee wrote on December 30th, 2011
  31. Zucchini slices (don’t have to be mandolin-thin) are also a terrific and delicious substitute for pasta in homemade lasagna. I will definitely use the idea of drying them out a bit first, probably the bake @200 for 30 min idea, next time because if anything it is a touch on the watery side, but oh so good. Especially with homemade sauce! Yummmmmm….

    Noturmomma wrote on April 21st, 2012
  32. Just made some traditional pasta with zucchini noodles and it was out of this world. I used chorizo, a homemade cherry tomato sauce, goat butter,olive oil and garlic to heat up the noodles and the taste was perfect, would have been more pasta like if I dried up the noodles a bit though. Has anyone tried making zucchini noodles from diy zucchini flour?

    Dan wrote on November 13th, 2013

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