When I was a small child, I used to eat penne pasta with butter, Parmesan cheese, and peas for three meals a day. I didn't hate other food, I just really, really loved that combination. Needless to say, I'm a pretty pro-carb individual. However, recently, I've gotten into cooking with noodle-alternatives, just to switch things up a bit. Using noodle alternatives—whether it's tofu, carrot, zucchini, or something else entirely—can also be a great way to cut back on carbs, if that's something you're looking for. But because changing ingredients also requires some technique adjustments, I've created a step by step guide of how to cook zucchini noodles (aka zoodles) perfectly every time.

Step 1: Spiralize, grate, or ribbonize your zucchini.

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Ribbonize definitely isn't a verb, but I'm making it one for this situation. Basically, choose a method by which to transform your zucchinis into noodle shapes, whatever your preferred shape of noodle is. Spiralizing will create a traditional spaghetti shape, while grating will turn out more like angel hair and "ribbonizing" will be similar to a pappardelle shape. You can also buy pre-cut zoodles if you prefer, although this method will undoubtedly be more expensive than creating the noodles yourself.

Step 2: Drain the noodles.

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Lay your zoodles either on a cloth or on a stack of paper towels. Let them sit for at least 20 minutes, though leaving them to sit longer won't hurt.

Step 3: Squeeze the zoodles.

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Wrap the towel around your zoodles and squeeze out any excess water. Repeat this process a couple times, until no more water drips out.

Step 4: Cook!

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My preferred method of cooking zucchini noodles is pan-frying, because it adds some texture and is super easy to incorporate other ingredients. Heat one tablespoon of either olive oil or coconut oil over medium-high heat. Mince a large clove of garlic and add to the pan, then, let the oil and garlic sit until the pan becomes fragrant. Add your zoodles (from one zucchini) and sauté for 3-5 minutes. (If you're cooking more than one zucchini-worth of noodles, you may need to cook for 5-7 minutes.)

#SpoonTip: Don't salt your zoodles, as adding salt will draw out more moisture from the zucchini and make your dish soggy. Embrace the al dente texture of your zoodles instead, and build flavor with other ingredients later. 

Step 5: Incorporate other flavors.

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Zoodles by themselves aren't much of a dish, but they can be added as a substitute in almost any pasta dish. Consider this veggie and sausage option, this easy shrimp scampi, or this pesto concoction. My personal favorite zoodle dish is some kind of pesto variation, because it feels like an extra-special Green Goddess dinner. And, I just love pesto.

Although zucchini noodles are usually advertised as a lower-carb alternative to pasta, I actually think they make a pretty solid meal for anyone looking to experiment, regardless of your carb-intake goals. And at the very least, zoodles provide a simple, buildable flavor profile in a beautiful shade of green.