I cook to bring home the bacon (and fry it up in the pan), but I also cook to take a break from my own racing thoughts. Always being a “creative,” before I ventured into the world of food, I used visual art as a way to calm myself. When you’re working on a project where perfection is the end goal (and anyone who has been to my home can attest to my sometimes obnoxious perfectionism), you become consumed in the task at hand, nothing else. In my tweens and early teens, I would paint and doodle for hours on end, even getting into concrete objects (like, actual concrete), creating stepping stones and the like. Lame? Yes, yes it was. But it helped. For nearly two decades now I’ve used creativity as a way to, for lack of a better term, deal with shit.
Creating–be that a scarf, painting, topiary (good on you), or dinner–is like putting a gauzy veil on your prevailing issue, however infinitesimal you may think it is (though I think any problem, no matter the size, is not to be diminished), softening the harshness of what’s looking you right in the eyeballs. It’s not avoidance; it’s giving you the ability to pull it back for a moment and look at something from a different vantage point. And you know, most stuff works out okay.
The other day when I was stewing over something, I went downstairs to my kitchen, threw on some tunes, and tapped into my creative side. The unhurried moments it took to prep, cook, clean, and set the table for myself, I had cleared the metaphorical cobwebs from my head and made a pretty killer lunch to boot. I came out with a greedy, tangly vegetable toss that kicked my taste buds into overdrive and helped me get sorted. Shellacked honey tamari almonds add a welcome meatiness, satisfying crunch, and stick-with-you-ness to the bowl. There are no “real” noodles or pasta in this, but that’s not what this recipe is about.
Creating a noodle with a spiral slicer is a truly satisfying (and stress relieving) way to use up those long-legged broccoli extremities kicking around in the vegetable drawer, reducing food waste, too. I rarely know what to do with those gnarly, tough green stalks other than peel and toss in a stir-fry, which is all good, but sometimes you want to treat yourself to something else. I’ve even enjoyed this dish slightly warmed and was surprised by how sturdy the broccoli noodles remain. As warming draws out moisture in all vegetables, especially zucchini and broccoli, a bit of short-grain brown rice to soak up the juices isn’t a bad idea.
For heartier fare, toss with spelt or brown rice or buckwheat noodles, or top with a fried egg or a bit of soft tofu. Or, you can simply enjoy this tangle as I’ve prescribed here.
You know what they say, “Tangled noodles, organized emotions.” (If that’s not a t-shirt, someone needs to get on that–you’re welcome!)
- 1 zucchini (6–8 ounces), spiral sliced
- 1 bunch broccoli stalks (2–3 stalks, 8 ounces), peeled, and spiral sliced (reserve florets for another use)
- ½ cup cabbage kimchi, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons tamari
- ½ teaspoon raw honey
- Scant ½ cup raw whole almonds
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon tamari
- ¼ teaspoon chili flakes, plus more to serve
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a large-rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add all almond ingredients to baking sheet and toss to combine. Bake for 6–9 minutes, until browned and caramelized. Cool completely. Roughly chop almonds and set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss spiralized broccoli stalks and zucchini with kimchi. In a small bowl, combine oil, vinegar, tamari, and honey; add to vegetables and toss to combine.
- To serve, divide tangle (noodles) between bowls and garnish with chopped almonds. Serve immediately.