Chef Jonathan Seningen of Elizabeth's Gone Raw in Washington, D.C. cuts zucchini into thin slices, then puts the slices into a dehydrator for a brief time. The dehydrator is set at 115 degrees, which is a generally accepted threshold for food to be still considered "raw," and the process softens the texture of the vegetable so that it resembles pasta. Serve with pesto, tomatoes and olive oil, or another raw pasta topping.
This technique also works with peeled butternut squash.
You'll need a dehydrator with specific temperature settings for this recipe.
Serves 2 as an entree, 3 to 4 as an appetizer
1 medium (about 10 ounces) zucchini, cut crosswise into 1/8-inch rounds
About 2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black or white pepper
Toss the zucchini and oil in a mixing bowl to coat evenly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the rounds on racks in the dehydrator; set the temperature to 115 degrees. Dry for 25 to 45 minutes, or until light-colored patches of moisture disappear and they have achieved the consistency of al dente cooked pasta.
VARIATION: To make zucchini "ravioli," start with an even number of the dehydrated rounds. Arrange half of them on a platter. Pipe a dollop of cashew or other nut cheese (see NOTE) or other savory filling at the center of each one. Top with the remaining rounds, pressing gently around the edges to form ravioli. Serve as hors d'oeuvres or with pesto or fresh tomato sauce.
NOTE: To make 1 cup of cashew cheese, soak 1 cup of cashew pieces in water for 4 hours. Drain and rinse them, then put in a blender or food processor with 1 tablespoon miso (chickpea or white), 2 teaspoons chopped shallot, 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves, 1/4 cup chopped celery and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Covered, the mixture will keep in the refrigerator for 4-6 days.
NUTRITION Per serving (based on 4): 70 calories, 0 g protein, 2 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 65 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar
(Recipe from Jonathan Seningen, executive chef at Elizabeth's Gone Raw in Washington, D.C.)