Saturday, March 10, 2012

RAW Noodles & Veggies W/RAW Asian Pesto Sauce (Paleo, RAW, Vegan, GAPS)



So here we are...FINALLY; my very own "EAT MORE VEGGIES" month. (Thanks to all for your patience as I recovered from the flu). This month is my own personal quest to re-imagine that shared experience of every child's least favorite phrase. We've all heard it: You can probably even hear your mother's voice right now echoing it; "You need to eat your veggies". But seriously, every one of us could benefit from loading up our diets with more veggie servings per day. They are so powerful; full of fiber, vitamins, nutrients and best of all, full of FLAVOR! We love veggies in our house; cooked, raw, sliced, diced, shaved, mashed, pureed and best of all 'SPIRALED' (more on that later).
Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing with you a number of 'RAW' veggie dishes and desserts. There may even be a few cooked veggie dishes as well. Personally, I believe in the benefits of eating both raw and cooked vegetables. There are pluses and minuses to both. I will NOT, however, be expounding on that statement; at least not at this time. If you happen to have strong personal convictions with regards to raw vs. cooked foods, I have no problem with that, as I trust that you know your own body and what it needs. This is simply not the place for me to speak to that issue. 

One thing I will address briefly, is the issue of vegetables which are known to contain 'goitrogens'. (Note: this is NOT an issue with the dish in this post). Goitrogen containing vegetables, when eaten raw or in excess, have been found to contribute to low thyroid issues *IF* thyroid issues are ALREADY present. These vegetables include, but are not limited to broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, millet, peaches, peanuts, radishes, soybean, spinach, kale and strawberries. So if you have a normal functioning thyroid, there is not a problem with eating these foods raw and in reasonable amounts. Additionally, cooking these vegetables has shown great potential in lowering these goitrogenic substances. Most people with thyroid issues are encouraged to limit their intake of these vegetables to two servings per week. But obviously, if this is of concern to you, you should first discuss it with your doctor. And if you are unsure about any of my upcoming recipes which contain some of these raw veggies (like the raw cabbage rolls will), then by all means, feel free to make a cooked version. Some of these recipes taste amazing when cooked as well.




Today, I offer you a wonderful raw noodle dish. No, that's not a typo; I did just say "raw noodle". Raw noodles are most often made from raw green or yellow zucchini. But really, you can make them from any vegetable which can be shaved, julienne or 'spiraled'...

And there's that word again....SPIRAL. Vegetable spiralers are a wonderful tool that will completely revolutionize the way you enjoy vegetables. This simple little tool allows you to make 'noodles' up to 6 feet long (if you so desire) out of zucchini, carrots, large radishes and other suitable veggies. It also assists you in making wonderfully thin shaved onions, carrots, cucumbers, and much much more. (were you expecting me to say "but wait! there's more!)?

This dish is Chocked full of raw veggies, including red peppers, shiitake mushrooms and my favorite: shaved and julienned asparagus. Note: When possible, it is always best to buy organic when preparing raw food dishes. It is also important to wash the veggies well with a good vegetable wash before preparing.


RAW Noodles & Veggies W/RAW Asian Pesto Sauce

Ingredients:

For the Sauce:

6 Tbls raw tahini (get it here, or at your local health food store)
1 Tbls Olive oil (or if you are not 'hard core' about being raw try some toasted sesame oil.)

1 cup walnuts, soaked for 7 hours then rinsed &  drained
1 1/2 cups packed cilantro
1/2 cup packed basil
1 very small garlic clove (optional)
Juice of  half a lemon (or more to taste)
Coarse sea salt and cracked pepper
This will make a thick pesto. You can add up to 6 Tbls of filtered water to get desired consistency for a sauce.*

For the veggies:

About 6 medium sized zucchini, skin shaved off with a vegetable peeler (for the pasta)

About  1 pound asparagus, very thinly sliced or shaved
1 large red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, very thinly sliced

Garnish:

1/4 cup green onion chopped
1/4 cup packed cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup crispy walnuts, chopped
Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste


Directions:

In a food processor, combine the tahini, walnuts, cilantro, basil, garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Add water as needed or desired. Pulse till well combined. *[If you want a thicker 'pesto' just add less of the water and pulse the mixture till desired consistency. For a sauce, which I find blends better into the 'pasta', use more of the water.]

Once the mixture has reached the desired consistency, add the salt and pepper to taste.


Set aside. The sauce may thicken if chilled. Add a little warm water to bring to room temp and thin it some before serving.

Prepare the pasta according to the directions on your 'Spiral Slicer'. Or you can 'julliane' them with a mandoline. Another option is to just very thinly slice the zucchini into long strips. Set aside in a large bowl. 

In a separate bowl, toss the rest of the thinly sliced vegetables together.

JUST before serving, carefully toss the noodles with the pesto  Be careful not to break the noodles. Then fill each bowl of  noodles with a handful of veggies.

Finally garnish with the crushed walnuts, cilantro and chopped green onions. Season with coarse sea salt and cracked pepper.

Serve immediately. (The longer the zucchini pasta has sauce on it, the quicker it breaks down and becomes watery, as the salt pulls the water out of it.)

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