Zucchini Noodle Salad with Spicy Almond Dressing
Wedding season is officially upon us, friends.
Logan and I kicked things off with his bestie’s nuptials on Harbour Island last weekend, and it was one of the most glorious weekends, wedding or otherwise, in recent memory.
If you’ve been to Harbour Island, you already know that it’s basically heaven on earth. (And if you haven’t, you should put it on your bucket list, stat.) The water is the brightest of turquoise blues, the sand is pale pink and freakishly soft, and the Goombay Smashes at The Sip Sip will knock you on your ass faster than you can say, “Pass the conch fritters.”
Clearly, it’s an idyllic place to get married, and this particular wedding was absolute perfection. From the wedding party’s sing-a-long to this version of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” at the rehearsal dinner to the shoe-less reception on the beach, every moment was steeped in love, and joy, and touchy-feeliness. I’m getting a little teary just thinking about it.
Sometimes I wish I could revert to the pre-hearts and rainbows version of myself. It was less draining…
Needless to say, I went hard on the fun front Thursday through Sunday. There was a lot of champagne and rum involved and some seriously questionable late night food decisions, but I have no regrets!
Except maybe my attempt to DJ the wedding after-party. I slightly regret that. (My Bieber-heavy playlist was not well received, and I may or may not have earned the title of “World’s Worst DJ.”)
Leaving the Bahamas on Sunday afternoon was rough, and Monday was even rougher, but the aforementioned Bieber playlist (World’s Worst DJ, my ass) and this Zucchini Noodle Salad with Spicy Almond Dressing slowly brought me back to life.
I swear this salad has healing powers, people. Bright, fresh and unbelievably textured, it’s a serious flavor party with plenty of feel-good benefits. The amount of vitamins (especially B and C), fiber, and antioxidants packed into each vegetarian serving is insane. And I promise it will keep you full and satisfied for hours, thanks in large part to the heady spicy almond dressing.
Speaking of the dressing, let’s talk about this creamy magic for a hot sec. It’s similar to some of my favorite peanut sauces in taste, but it has a little bit more depth and a lot more flair. (I find almond butter to have a richer, nuttier taste than peanut butter, but that could be a weird personal thing?) The combo of unseasoned rice vinegar, honey, and Sriracha hits all the right tangy, sweet, and fiery notes, but it’s the lime zest that really ups the ante here, so don’t skip it. Citrus-y undertones for the win.
Sidenote: If you’re not familiar with unseasoned rice vinegar, you can find it in the Asian section of your supermarket, usually next to the soy and hoisin sauces. The most common brands are Marukan and Ka-Me. If the bottle just says “rice vinegar” you can safely assume it’s unseasoned, since the seasoned versions are clearly labeled as such. Rice vinegar is great in a variety of Asian sauces/dressings/marinades, and a single bottle will last you a looong time. Get some.
I love this nutrient-dense salad on its own for lunch or as a super light dinner with an ice cold glass of white wine, but feel free to bulk it up with some meat or fish if you must. Grilled shrimp and chicken are excellent additions, as is a reasonable portion of thinly sliced marinated flank steak. (For those in the Dude Diet camp, my roommate strongly endorses the steak noodle sitch…)
There’s a little bit of veggie prep required for this recipe, but a spiralizer makes incredibly quick work of the zucchini and carrots. Just be sure your carrot is a fatty with a diameter of at least 1-inch, since spiralizing anything smaller is next to impossible and somewhat dangerous. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can also spiralize the cabbage and onion, as demonstrated by Ali, but keep in mind that you’ll need to switch to a larger blade.
Don’t have a spiralizer? Don’t panic. (But please consider getting one because it’s the most fun single-use kitchen tool ever.) You can use a julienne peeler for the zucchini and carrot, OR simply shave them into ribbons with your vegetable peeler. The latter will yield fatter “noodles” à la fettucini, but whateva.
The recipe as written is best served immediately, so if you’re thinking about prepping the salad in advance for a warm weather partay or sassy desk lunch (so smart!), wait to dress it until just before serving. The zucchini noodles will release a fair amount of water if left for too long in the dressing, and you don’t want to lose this salad’s signature crunch and freshness.
Now go forth and make salad, you sexy beasts!
Zucchini Noodle Salad with Spicy Almond Dressing: (2-3 as a meal, 4-6 as a side)
2 8” zucchini, spiralized or julienned (about 3 cups zucchini noodles)
1 medium carrot, spiralized or julienned (about 2 cups carrot noodles)
1 cup very thinly sliced red onion (about 1 small red onion)
2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
½ packed cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
¼ cup chopped raw almonds
Lime wedges for serving (optional)
For the dressing:
¼ cup smooth almond butter
1 large clove garlic, grated
Zest of 1 small lime
1½ tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1½ teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey (Vegans can obviously sub agave or maple syrup.)
2 tablespoons water
Preparing your Zucchini Noodle Salad with Spicy Almond Dressing:
-Start by prepping all the vegetables. Spiralize the zucchinis and carrot using the blade that makes spaggheti-sized strands. Pat the zucchini noodles dry with paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. (If you don’t have a spiralizer or julienne peeler, don’t panic. You can either shave your zucchinis and carrot with a vegetable peeler or slice them into matchsticks with your chef’s knife.) Thinly slice the onions and cabbage.
-In a large mixing bowl, whisk all the ingredients for the dressing.
-Add the vegetables and cilantro to the bowl with thte dressing and toss to coat.
-Divide the salad among plates or bowls. Garnish with chopped almonds and plenty of lime wedges, and serve immediately.
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