Kelp noodles are one of my favorite ingredients these days and this Zucchini Pasta & Kelp Noodles with Sunflower Cilantro Pesto dish is a happy new addition to my growing repertoire of both kelp and zucchini noodle recipes..

I LOVE to eat, and while I don’t count calories, yet there is no denying that too many of them can be unkind. Enter kelp noodles! Now the words “kelp noodles” do not conjure up visions of an unctuous and mouthwatering morsel….however they have no flavor and are basically a vehicle for amazing sauces.

The only trick however is that while they do not need to be cooked, they do need to be soaked in filter water and baking soda for at least 20 minutes to let them soften. This is not something that you will find instructed on the packaging…it seems to be underground intel that I am happy to have, and happy to share! So whether you are ambitious to make the recipe below or you just want to throw some store-bought pesto or peanut sauce on these puppies you will to be disappointed, I promise!

Kelp Zucchini Noodles

Zucchini Pasta & Kelp Noodles with Sunflower Cilantro Pesto

For the salad~
1lb package kelp noodles*
1 Tablespoon baking soda
3 large zucchini (about 1.5lbs)
1/2 medium red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 medium scallions, thinly sliced on the bias

For the sauce~
1/2 packed cup cilantro leaves & stems
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup filtered water
2 Tablespoons ume plum vinegar**
2 large slices raw red pepper
2 large cloves garlic
1 large pitted medjool date
Sriacha to taste (optional)
A generous pinch of Himalayan salt

Serves 4-6

Place the kelp noodles in a large salad bowl with enough filtered water to cover and add the baking soda, allow them to soak for 30 minutes. This will soften the noodles to a silkier texture, a must!

While the noodles are soaking; Trim the ends of the zucchini and then julienne lengthwise on a mandolin or with a julienne peeler until you get to the seeds. If the seeds are small you can go as far into the center as possible. You can also use a spiralizer. Save the core for another use such as a stir fry.

Add the shredded zucchini into a bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt and toss well. Set it aside for 20+ minutes to allow the salt to draw out the water of the zucchini.

Place all ingredients for the sauce in a blender and blend on high until smooth. Leave the sauce in the blender while you drain the zucchini.

After the 20 minutes; set a cereal-size bowl next to you and gather the zucchini into a pile at the side of the bowl with one hand. Tip the bowl and press very firmly on the zucchini to help the liquid that is releasing drain into the cereal bowl. Repeat again to get as much liquid out as possible. Reserve the liquid for another use such as cooking veggies or rice etc.

Drain the liquid from the kelp noodles and rinse well. Return them to the bowl, add the zucchini and sauce and toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning and salt if needed. Allow the salad to sit for 10-15 minutes to marinate. Serve room temperature or you can heat gently in a sauté pan on medium-low heat.

Tips & Notes~

You can add many different kinds of raw or cooked veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, asparagus, etc. All types of nuts work also in exchange for the sunflower seeds.

*Kelp Noodles are available on line or in the International section of many grocery stores. They are good heated or served cold.

**Ume Plum vinegar is made from fermented Japanese plums, full of flavor and has many medicinal benefits. It is available in the vinegar or international section of many grocery stores. If you cannot find; replace with lemon juice or rice wine vinegar and add extra salt.

Check out this article on umeboshi plums by One Green Planet to see what they are all about!