Baking zucchini noodles brings a great deal of flavor to the table by adding a flavor dimension – caramelization. The golden-brown edges that come with roasting any vegetable just give your food a richer flavor. Since zucchini is such a mild veggie, it can use all the help it can get!
There are several ways to bake your zoodles. In this guide, I will give you the basics and a few recipes to make easy meals or sides using this bountiful gourd.
To salt or not to salt?
To salt or not to salt before you cook zucchini noodles in the oven is a matter of considerable controversy. My own take is that the only time that salting and draining zucchini is really worth the trouble is when you plan to use them in a cold salad that needs to last a day or two.
Otherwise, I have not found the added crunch promised by this technique to be quite so crunchy. For the baking methods in this guide, I don’t recommend salting before baking.
1. Roasted Zoodles
When you roast veggies in the oven, they release sugars and start to caramelize lending a rich and well-rounded flavor without adding any extra salt or sugar. Since zucchini is so mild in flavor, the added boost in taste is a real bonus.
This recipe will yield soft noodles with some bits of crispy edges that punctuate flavor and texture. I serve it with some melted butter dotted over it at the table.
Tip: If you have some extra cherry tomatoes to use up, slice in half and roast them at the same time to add some punch to this dish.
2-3 pounds of prepared zoodles, thin noodle cut
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Toss your zukes in enough olive oil for a light coating. (Tip: Olive oil cooking spray makes it easier to keep your zoodles in one piece while you spray a light coat of oil on them.)
- Line a large baking sheet (or two if you are doing a large batch) with a cooking rack. This will get your zukes off the bottom of the pan, allowing excess moisture to drop off when cooking.
- Spread your zoodles on the rack. The thinner the layer, the faster they will cook and the more crisp edges you will get.
- Bake 5-15 minutes. Keep a close eye on them since the amount you try to bake at the same time, and the thickness of your layers create a wide variance in cooking time.
2. Zucchini Chips
If you are looking for something with a little bit more crunch, try these. Taking advantage of the thin ribbon slice available on most veggie spiralizers, these will yield a crunch zucchini chip that makes an excellent snack to replace greasy fried potato chips.
Plan to eat these right away – they won’t store well. In addition, feel free to play around with the spices as they will take well to just about any flavor combination. Just be careful – remember that they will shrink considerably as you bake out the excess water so you can easily overdo it with the spice.
1-2 pounds of prepared zoodles, wide ribbon cut
1-2 teaspoons Seasoning Salt
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Cover a baking sheet with a cooking rack first so your zukes won’t sit in the water while baking.
- Spread your ribbons in a single layer on the baking sheet.
- Spray with cooking oil and sprinkle very lightly with seasoning salt.
- Bake 8-12 minutes. Watch them closely and pull them right as the edges start to go dark brown.
The problem with using zoodles in casseroles is that they are so full of water that they can end up making a soggy, watery mess. If you try to use zucchini with the classic casserole glue, that is, some version of a béchamel or some melty cheese, both are likely to “break” into grease and milk solids because of all of the added water – gross.
I have had luck using canned casserole fillers like cream of mushroom soup – they tend to be more stable than made from scratch versions. Another tip? Bake uncovered to make sure there is plenty of opportunity for excess moisture to escape during baking.
Another strategy is to cook zucchini noodles in casseroles that are not dairy based. This way you avoid the potential your binder will break. For example, toss them lightly in some prepared spaghetti sauce and top with some mozzarella cheese. Bake until warm and bubbly.
Think of your zucchini as a blank canvas, just like pasta. This humble gourd won’t try to compete with your main dish if you choose to serve it roasted as a side. And, it pairs well with almost any fresh herbs and spice combination you may want to experiment with.
As a casserole addition, it provides a vitamin boosting filler as long as you keep in mind that it will lose plenty of water as it cooks and plan accordingly.
Feel free to let your creative juices flow!
Don’t have a spiralizer? Don’t fret – find out how to make Zucchini noodles the old fashioned way in this guide we wrote.