Zucchini ribbons romesco

I've never given much thought to what moms wear to the pool during summertime until I became a mom myself. This is because 1. I generally do not have an opinion about what others choose to wear. {Or not wear. I'm talking to you, Speedo-clad 70-year-old on the beach. Rock on.} and 2. I have more important things to ponder.

But recently, I became friends with a group of women with children around Cole's age and we started having play dates at the pool. {Which, YAY, play dates within walking distance.} The first time I met up with them, I arrived to find that all of the "pool moms" had definitive "mom swimsuits" on, while I wore a two piece. Suddenly, my lack of attention to such details became an acute awareness of my own body and I sort of wanted to wrap myself in an oversized beach towel and hide behind a palm tree.

I think we should think less about poolside fashion choices and more about food. Because that's a department where I feel totally comfortable.

I can't tell you what kind of swimwear is appropriate for the summer, but I can tell you that this zucchini dish is perfect for the occasion.

Summertime is a fantastic time to make the switch from pasta to "zoodles" {zucchini noodles}. In this dish, I skipped the spiralizer and turned to my trusty {and dangerous -- I almost lost a finger a few weeks ago} mandolin to make pappardelle-like strips that are hearty enough to fill in for a carby alternative without causing the bloat and belly. If you don't own a mandolin, you can use a vegetable peeler to peel the long strips.

The Romesco sauce is so ridiculously easy that it will become a go-to to toss with pasta and veggies or drizzle over meat. The toasted nuts in the sauce give it a nice texture and the smoked paprika gives it a great, smoky flavor. I added some Kalamata olives to the dish for an extra pop of saltiness.

Just one bite and I think you'll agree that this is a fantastic dish for the summer, whether you're enjoying it while covered up or "al fresco." :)

Zucchini Ribbons Romesco
Sauce recipe adapted from Bon Apetit
Makes 2 large servings, and about 2 cups of sauce

2 medium zucchinis {thinner ones, if possible}
About 1/3 cup jarred roasted red pepper
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons roasted almonds
2 tablespoons roasted hazelnuts*
4 pearl tomatoes {or 2 medium Roma tomatoes}
2 tablespoons vinegar, preferably red or white wine {or fresh lemon juice}
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Dash of cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped black or kalamata olives

1. Using a mandolin or a vegetable peeler, create long, thin strips with the zucchini. Set aside until ready to cook.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, combine the roasted red pepper, garlic, almonds, hazelnuts, tomatoes, vinegar, smoked paprika, cayenne and salt by pulsing until chunky.

3. Open the feed spout and pour in the olive oil while pulsing, and blend until not quite smooth. {You want it to have some texture.}

4. In a large skillet over medium high heat, place zucchini strips and about 2 tablespoons of water. Cover with a lid {or an overturned plate large enough to place over the top} and allow the zucchini to steam for about 3-4 minutes. Uncover and allow most of the water to cook off.**

5. Pour in about half of the Romesco sauce, and gently shake the pan to toss with the zucchini. Cook for 2-3 minutes more just to warm the sauce through and allow the zucchini to become "floppy". Add olives and toss to combine. Serve immediately {with a sprinkle of cheese, if desired}.

*If you don't have hazelnuts, you can simply double the amount of almonds.
** Zucchini gives off a lot of water and can dilute sauces easily. I've found that by cooking off some of the liquid they give after steaming, the final product is less watery. Serving right away also helps.

More from The Kitchen Prep:
Pepper Jack Cornmeal Madeleines
Caramelized Onion & Bacon Dressing
Blueberry BBQ Sauce

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