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Lemon Garlic Chicken and Zucchini Noodles

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This recipe is the sixth in my month-long series of healthy, weeknight recipes from all around the web. This is stuff I make time and again, usually with some modifications, and still love! Check back (or follow this blog) to see all of the recipes I’ll be featuring this month!

Zucchini-Noodles-with-Lemon-Garlic-Chicken-Spinach-GF-healthy-dinner

This recipe is a concatenation of a few recipes from other food blogs. The ingredient inspiration comes from this Inspiralized dish and the flavors come from this chicken and rice recipe on MidEats. I love the combination of the two. The flavors are light and fresh – a perfect pairing for the veggies. I know it isn’t exactly (or even close to) zucchini season, but even in the winter I still enjoy cooking and eating this dinner.

If you are new to spiralizing and/or making zucchini noodles see my post here about making zucchini noodles. I go through a couple extra steps to get zucchini noodles with a great texture. It takes a little longer because you have to let the “noodles” sit and drain for a little while, but I promise the results are worth it. Plus, this is still a quick meal, even with the extra steps. You’re looking at about 30-40 minutes, with only about half of that time actually being active cooking.

In terms of healthfulness, it’s hard to beat this dinner! Lean chicken, protein packed spinach, and a few zucchinis. I top mine with a few feta cheese crumbles, but that hardly ruins a healthy meal. I can’t give any guarantees or promises that this is a kid friendly meal, but I can say that both adults in this household love eating this!

Zucchini-Noodles-with-Lemon-Garlic-Chicken-Spinach-Healthy-Gluten-Free-Weeknight-Dinner

Lemon Garlic Chicken and Zucchini Noodles

Ingredients

  • 3 zucchinis
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 2 T + 2 t olive oil, divided
  • 3 T lemon juice (or juice from 1 lemon)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 t cumin
  • 4 large hand fulls spinach
  • feta cheese for topping, optional

Directions

  1. Spiralize each of the zucchinis. Place the zucchini noodles in a stainer in the sink. Sprinkle with salt. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
  2. While the zucchini is soaking, cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Add 2 T olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, and cumin. Stir to coat chicken. Put in the refrigerator to marinate for 15 minutes (up to overnight).
  3. After at least 15 minutes, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken + marinade to the skillet. Cook, stirring every few minutes, until the chicken is done and all the juices are absorbed, about 10 minutes. While the chicken is cooking use a thin towel or cheesecloth to wring out the excess liquid from the zucchini noodles (more detail on this step can be found in this post).
  4. Remove the chicken from the skillet to a plate. Add the remaining 2 t of olive oil to the skillet.Give the oil a minute or two to warm, then add the zucchini noodles to the skillet. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes, to let the noodles heat up.
  5. Add the chicken and the spinach to the skillet. Keep on the heat just long enough for the spinach to wilt.
  6. Top with feta cheese crumbles before serving, if desired.

Serve this with

  • NOTE: This skillet can be a stand alone meal. As is, the recipe is grain free and paleo. Personally, I feel lousy without whole grains in my diet, so I usually include a quinoa side dish with this meal. Feel free to serve the skillet on it’s own if that works for you!
  • Quinoa Pilaf
  • Lemon Risotto
  • Coming soon . . . quinoa patties.
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How To: Cook Perfect Zucchini Noodles

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How-To-Prepare-Perfect-Zucchini-Noodles

I am a perfectionist. Especially when it comes to cooking. It’s kind of “my thing”, and therefore I should be good at it. And not just good, but excellent. I’m always aiming for perfect, and always realizing I cannot ever achieve it.

Zucchini noodles are wonderful in a lot of ways, tasty, healthy, quick, and simple substitute for pasta, but they very quickly turn into a mushy, watery mess (AKA – not perfect). If you’ve cooked with zucchini noodles before I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Once the zucchinis let out all their water any sauce on the noodles thins and then you are left with a pool of watered down sauce on your plate.

I’d rather eat my sauce, thank you very much!

So, I put my knowledge of zucchini, cooking skills, and desire to make the perfect dinner to use and figured out a way to eat zucchini noodles without all of the extra water. The steps are simple and in the end you’ll have a perfect zucchini noodles.

Maybe humans can’t be perfect, but zucchini noodles can be!

The key to making these zucchini noodles perfect is to get the water out of the noodles before you get the noodles on your plate.

First, you need to make your zucchini noodles. There are lots of options for how to do this, and tons of tutorials on the web. I tested a few different vegetable noodle making devices and eventually settled on a Spiralizer I found on amazon.com with a lifetime guarantee.

Step two couldn’t be easier, just dump all of your spiraled zucchini into a strainer in the sink. Shake some salt over the noodles; this seems to help with releasing water. Let the noodles sit for a while (I’ve found 15 – 30 minutes to be ideal). While the recently cut and salted zucchini sits in the strainer it begins to release of the water the zucchini has been holding.

Zucchini-Noodles-in-Strainer

The final step is to squeeze out the liquid. I have a thin, cheap towel I use for this, but a cheesecloth would also work great. I put a handful of the zucchini noodles in the towel and wring out the liquid.

Zucchini-Noodles-Drain

Surprisingly, this doesn’t destroy the noodles. When you unwrap the towel you’ll find whole, intact – but much drier – noodles. Since you just put pressure on the noodles when wringing them out, the noodles will be very compacted in the towel. It looks a bit deceiving at first, like they’ve been all smashed into a ball, but you should still have those perfect spaghetti stands. These will separate when you cook the noodles.

Zucchini-Noodles-Drained

Cook these noodles however you’d like. They will stand up to being cooked in everything from a bit of olive oil with salt and pepper to a heavy sauce (like this one I posted on Wednesday). No oily, saucy, watery puddles will be left on your plate!

Zucchini-Noodles-Bolognese-Sauce

Zucchini Noodles with a Bolognese Sauce

Zucchini Noodles and Chicken in an Avocado Cream Sauce

Zucchini Noodles and Chicken in an Avocado Cream Sauce

Happy Vegetable Noodle Eating!

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