People often ask how to make my one pot creamy garlic pasta with zoodles instead of pasta. Over the years I’ve always had to say “no” – that would make it a completely different recipe. Allow me to introduce you to that recipe today! These vegan creamy garlic zucchini noodles. Made in one pot, just like the original reader fave!
What are zoodles?
Zucchini noodles / zoodles are, for the uninitiated, literally a raw zucchini (courgette) cut into the shape of pasta noodles. They provide a low-carb alternative to wheat-based pasta and sneak an extra vegetable into your meal. I don’t eat low carb myself, but I like to eat zoodles sometimes because they’re fun and I’m always down for extra veggies. Plus, my bae is gluten-free and I don’t want to dine alone ;).
Unlike “real” pasta, though, zucchini noodles don’t get starchy and thus don’t help to thicken sauces or cling sauce to their surface. Plus, zucchini releases liquid after getting hit with salt or heat, so if you try to substitute in zoodles without other changes, your pasta dish will be a watery mess.
To ensure success, please be sure to follow my instructions for salting the zucchini and squeezing out the extra liquid, prior to adding them to your vegan creamy garlic sauce.
Supplies needed to make these creamy garlic zucchini noodles
Since you don’t need to boil pasta, these creamy garlic zoodles only require a pan for cooking. You will want to pick up some non-dairy milk. I strongly recommend plain soy milk made with only soybeans and water. It has the most neutral flavor and a nice creamy texture, without weird ingredients or added flavorings. With other non-dairy milks your results may vary.
To turn zucchini into noodles, I use my spiralizer. My recipe testing assistant Eden has a smaller handheld spiralizer that we also feel favorably about! Your third option is to use a vegetable peeler, or a small sharp knife, to carefully cut the zucchini into strands. And your fourth option is to grab pre-zoodled zucchini at the grocery store – I’ve been seeing that pop up more often recently.
Thickening the sauce for creamy garlic zucchini noodles
So, for these creamy garlic zucchini noodles, I took the flavors and the sauce base from my vegan fettuccine alfredo and thickened it with a bit of tapioca starch. Why tapioca starch? It’s gluten-free and grain-free (made from cassava), so it’s nice for allergen-friendly meals.
Adding the tapioca starch to your saute mixture does the trick, and only a couple of minutes after that, you’ll be enjoying these satisfying, garlicky, nutrition-packed, dairy-free, gluten-free noodles!
We love to serve ours with a big helping of spicy blackened chickpeas to make them a more filling meal. They’d also be great with some tofu bacon, blistered tomatoes, vegan parmesan, or other garnishes of your choice!
One Pot Creamy Garlic Zucchini Noodles
- Cut your zucchini into "spaghetti" noodles according to the instructions for your particular spiralizing device (see blog post for suggestions). Generously salt the zoodles and place them in a colander if you have one, or in a bowl otherwise. Let them sit for about 15 minutes (30 if you have time) while you do the rest of the recipe prep.
- Once the zucchini has been sitting for a while with salt, it should be starting to release a bunch of liquid. Drain away the extra liquid and additionally squeeze the zucchini with your hands to remove even more. Then, pat it dry. They will lose about half their weight in liquid.
- Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and stir. Continue to cook the shallots, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 60 seconds.
- Next, add the tapioca starch and the nutritional yeast if using, and stir to combine until it's evenly coating the shallot and garlic. Add the non-dairy milk and stir well. Continue to cook until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken and get a little bit stretchy.
- After the mixture thickens, add the zucchini, and stir to mix it in with the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, you can add a splash of non-dairy milk or water to loosen it until it reaches its desired consistency. After the zucchini and sauce are mixed well, remove from the heat and serve hot, salting to taste if desired.