zucchini noodle salad with spicy peanut sauce on a plate

zucchini noodle salad + spicy peanut sauce {an easy zoodle recipe!}

Are you into zoodles? That spiralized zucchini that’s supposed to serve as a noodle substitute, but really, tastes NOTHING like pasta? It took a while for me to get on board the zoodle recipe movement, but I’ve realized that’s because I was expecting it to be something it clearly is not. Zucchini noodles will never be pasta, and when you think that way, disappointment is certain. But they can be a lovely base to a light, fresh and crisp Thai-inspired salad, doused in a flavorful spicy peanut sauce. And that, friends, is what I’m here to rave about.

zucchini noodles on a cutting board

why I love this salad

This zucchini noodle salad has all the fresh flavors, and the spicy peanut sauce is sugar-free, keto-approved, and drizzle-on-everything amazing. The salad takes about 15 minutes to make (tops), and it’s a low-carb, healthy meal with whole food ingredients. Plus, dare I say this salad tastes better the next day, when the zoodles are a little soggier and softer. Make it ahead of time for a light and fresh dinner, divvy up leftovers for an easy, packable workday lunch, or bring it to your next gathering since it’s a dish that works for almost every diet type. Any which way you make it, just make it! It’s an easy zoodle recipe that is sure to convert any non-zoodle eater. 🙂

let’s make this delightful zoodle salad!

The ingredients can vary, depending on what you have and what you like (my general rule of thumb for salads!). And really, almost any veggie tossed in a spicy peanut sauce WILL be delicious.

Here are the ingredients I use for the zucchini noodle salad:

  • zucchinis
  • bell pepper (pick your favorite color, any will work)
  • cilantro (if you’re not a cilantro fan, try Thai basil or even fresh mint leaves!)
  • green onion
  • baby bok choy
  • shredded carrot
  • protein of choice (optional)- This salad is one of my favorite ways to use up leftover chicken, but it also works great with crispy tofu, shrimp, or even salmon!

Note: You will need a spiralizer to make the zucchini noodles. Or you can pick some up at the store– most grocers usually carry pre-packaged zoodles.

Start by spiralizing the zucchini. I don’t like to let the zoodles get too long because I find it annoying, so I break off the zoodles every 3-4 turns of the spiralizer.

Chop all the other veggies however you’d like– I shred the carrots with a large grater because it’s quick, and if there’s one thing I absolutely hate slicing, it’s carrots. For the rest of the veggies, I just make sure they’re cut into bite-sized pieces.

Note: I typically use two large zucchinis for this salad, but you can use extra or even stir in another chopped green like kale or baby spinach.

now for that yummy peanut sauce

This peanut sauce is so simple to make, and many of the ingredients are most likely in your pantry already!

You will need:

  • tamari
  • sesame oil
  • all-natural, unsweetened peanut butter (always check the ingredient list because many brands add sugar or other types of oils to the peanut butter)
  • unsweetened almond butter (I like to use a combination of the two nut butters but this is totally optional)
  • apple cider vinegar
  • lime juice
  • red pepper flakes
  • sweetener of choice- preferably liquid to prevent any grittiness in the dressing, although it’s not necessary (I like to use llinea monk fruit, but stevia drops or a granulated sweetener will work too)
  • unsweetened coconut milk- I almost always opt for canned, full-fat coconut milk, but you can also make this dressing with coconut milk from a carton

In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients until it’s smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust, adding more monk fruit for sweetness, red pepper for spiciness, or more tamari for saltiness.

Pour the dressing over the salad servings, or toss the entire salad in the dressing. This salad won’t get too soggy if you add the dressing ahead of time. In fact, I almost prefer it sitting in the dressing for a while because the zoodles soften a little bit.

optional salad toppings

Salads are always better with toppings, right? Some ideas for this zucchini noodle salad:

  • chopped, salted/roasted peanuts
  • more cilantro (ALWAYS)
  • red pepper flakes
  • sesame seeds
  • sliced jalapeños
  • lime wedge

This zoodle recipe is fresh and fun and so tasty, it’s sure to become a new favorite! Plus, it’s a healthy, low-carb meal that can be ready in 15 minutes FLAT, and isn’t that alone enough reason to make it over and over again? I say YES. 🙂

Enjoy!

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zucchini noodle salad with spicy peanut sauce

zucchini noodle salad with spicy peanut sauce

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

This zucchini noodle salad with a spicy peanut sauce is a healthy, low-carb meal that is perfect for keto meal prep! A crisp, fresh, and light zoodle salad is drizzled in a spicy peanut sauce for a dish with all the right flavors! Keto, dairy-free and vegan-friendly!

Ingredients

  • 2 large zucchini, spiralized
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1/2 bunch green onion
  • 1 head baby bok choy
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce (gluten-free)
  • 3 tablespoons all-natural, unsweetened peanut butter (or almond butter) *see notes for my recommended combination
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil 
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, depending on preference)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened, full-fat coconut milk (preferably from a can)
  • 7-10 drops monk fruit extract (or stevia drops) *see recipe notes for using granulated sweetener
  • optional proteins: diced or shredded chicken, shrimp, or crispy tofu
  • optional toppings: red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, chopped salted/roasted peanuts

Instructions

  1. Use a spiralizer to turn the zucchinis into noodles (or purchase pre-packaged zucchini noodles). When spiralizing the zucchini, break off the noodles every 3-4 turns to prevent them from getting too long.
  2. Dice the bell pepper and green onion. Remove the base of the baby bok choy, rinse and dry, and chop the rest of the head into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Grate the carrot. I use the large side of a box grater to grate the carrot, but you can also chop or julienne.
  4. In a large bowl, toss all the ingredients to combine. Mix in the cilantro. Set aside while you make the spicy peanut sauce (or store in the refrigerator until serving).
  5. In a small bowl, combine the peanut butter (or almond butter, or combination of the two), tamari, lime juice, vinegar and sesame oil. Whisk the ingredients together until the sauce is combined.
  6. Add the coconut milk and whisk some more (if you want the sauce thinner, add more coconut milk, 1 tablespoon at a time).
  7. Stir in your sweetener of choice and adjust to taste. I like to use llinea monk fruit drops, but I've also made this with stevia drops and granulated sweeteners (see recipe notes).
  8. Add the red pepper flakes, more or less, depending on how spicy you want it to be.
  9. Pour the dressing over the zucchini noodle salad, and toss the salad to combine.
  10. Optional: serve with protein of choice (like chicken, tofu or shrimp), and top with chopped peanuts, sesame seeds and/or more red pepper flakes.

Notes

*Since peanut butter is naturally a bit higher in sugar than almond butter, I prefer a combination of the two nut butters. A ratio of 2 tablespoons peanut butter to 1 tablespoon almond butter works well, but you can even swap that (2 tbsp almond butter: 1 tbsp peanut butter) and the dressing will stir carry a strong enough peanut butter flavor.

*I like to use a liquid sweetener to avoid any grittiness in the dressing, but you can also use finely granulated stevia or granulated monk fruit sweetener. For stevia, I'd start with 1/2 teaspoon and adjust from there. If you're using granulated monk fruit sweetener, go with 1 teaspoon.

*This salad will keep in the fridge for up to two days. The spicy peanut sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 187Total Fat: 16.3gSaturated Fat: 4.7gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 501mgCarbohydrates: 7.5gNet Carbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2.5gSugar: 2.5gProtein: 5g
This nutritional information is approximate and is provided for convenience as a courtesy.

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