sautéed zucchini, sliced almonds & dill {cooking for one}

Recently, I decided to scale back on carbs. While I toyed with the idea of doing the Whole 30 (it seems everyone I know is doing it, or has tried it), the diet just isn’t realistic for me on a number of levels. For starters, I truly believe everything is fine in moderation, unless of course you have a true sensitivity or allergy. I know many people have taken the route of this elimination diet to get at the source of triggers making them feel unwell. It’s such a bigger discussion about how our food is produced and sourced, but not one I want to get into here, and now.

The last two years I’ve struggled a lot with my weight, and self image. Regardless of whether people think I look good, my old jeans tell the story of a much thinner person. I look around at the women in my family—all sticks when they were younger, and all now, well, let’s just say Brooklyn Italian women get plump as they age. I never imagined leaving an urban environment where I walked every day, every where, would have such a dramatic effect on my weight, and yet it has. Lesson learned.

Physical fitness now needs to be a priority, not an after thought. My mode of transportation is now generally on four wheels, not two feet. Exercise isn’t enough, so I’m working on food choices, too. I could never truly eliminate carbs‚ life is too damn short. Could I make better choices about what carbs I enjoy, and how often I enjoy them? Absolutely.

I also ate much better when Mikey was alive. We ate a lot less meat; it was relegated to once or twice a week. My portions were also smaller, more in line with a smaller appetite. Overall, I was more health conscious. And yes, I was younger, chasing after two little kids.

And so, zoodles, noodles made from spiraled zucchini have become my best friend in this new discovery of moderation. At first, I thought this would be torture, but I realized that my love of pasta had more to do with the toppings. Pasta, and bread by default, were merely vehicles for sauce! I don’t have a real spiralizer, and while I should buy one, this little gadget I found in the hardware store last summer does the trick. There’s just one problem—it only spiralizes the outer edge of the zucchini, leaving you with a cylindrical piece of zucchini, where it just so happens the seeds are clustered. Sounds wasteful, right?

While making zucchini carbonara (recipe coming soon!) for lunch one day, I decided to put that leftover bit of zucchini to good use. You can certainly use this method with just cut up coins of zucchini, but if like me, you have a spiralizer that doesn’t cut up the whole zucchini, then this recipe will be especially handy.

Zucchini, Almonds & Dill |

I love the fresh flavors of the dill and lemon zest. The sliced almonds lend some texture to this otherwise tender dish of sautéed zucchini hearts (that’s my official name for the leftover zucchini cylinder). I don’t know how well, or long, the zucchini center will last if stored in the fridge as-is, so my advice is to cook this up immediately. You can always heat the dish when ready to eat, or just enjoy it cold, from the fridge. I’m thinking it would be a lovely addition to summer picnics, too!

Seven Years Ago: Zucchini & Walnut Muffins

Six Years Ago: Gnocchi, a love story

Five Years Ago: Cheddar Dill Butter

Four Years Ago: Roasted Rhubarb Jam

Three Years Ago: The Gift of Nothing

Two Years Ago: How To Make Violet Syrup

One Year Ago: Daybreak

Sautéed Zucchini with Sliced Almonds & Dill

Serves One

Extra virgin olive oil
3 zucchini “hearts”, sliced into coins
1  garlic clove, chopped
Scant handful of sliced almonds
Sea salt
Few pinches of fresh dill, chopped
Fresh grated lemon zest, from 1/4 to 1/2 lemon
Black pepper

Add a thick swirl of oil to an 8-inch round skillet set over medium-high heat. Tilt the pan to coat the bottom with the oil. Add the zucchini, and cook until they begin to brown underneath, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, and shake than to turn the squash pieces over. Cook for 1 minute, then add the almonds. Season with salt. Cook until the almonds toast a bit, and the zucchini is tender, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the dill and lemon zest. Season with pepper. Eat hot, or cool, and store in the fridge at enjoy cold or at room temperature within a few days.


  • Genny

    I think you and I have the same “spiralizer” lol It’s nice to know there is a recipe for the leftover cylinder of zucchini. You are right on both counts, less carbs and more walking make for a slimmer everything. I’ve had a lot of luck on Weight Watchers, but they have now changed the program and I guess I’m just an old dog. Tired of learning new tricks and really, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it kind of thinking. I’ve hit a plateau so I guess it’s less carbs and more walking for me. Good luck to you — I really enjoy your blog and your recipes and your journey. I personally don’t think I have the same strength that you do. I truly admire you!

  • Kathy

    I appreciate your thoughts and wisdom immensely. Such common sense and honesty that I relate to! This sounds delicious and I will prepare this certainly. Thanks for this post! I am so glad there are more coming.

  • Maryl

    Six months ago my husband was diagnosed with gastric reflux. Did a lot of research and adopted a new eating plan. We both have lost about 10 pounds. It’s sort of humbling to realize when you look at what you’re eating how out of whack portion sizes are. It took some time to re-learn how to grocery shop and make new recipes, but now we find we don’t tolerate the “old foods” well. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe.

  • Jennie

    Hi Maryl,

    Yes, portion control is a huge factor in weight loss. And while it takes time, it is easy to learn new patterns. I hope you like this recipe!