Spiralized zucchini is not a good substitute for pasta, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar. Expecting a “zoodle” to stand in for a real noodle is just too much pressure, but that doesn’t mean the zucchini strands can’t taste good if they are treated like a vegetable.
Zoodles aren’t bad in a stir fry (with rice), or a crispy, fried fritter, but their curly shape actually makes them an excellent candidate for pickling. Think about it: sliced, disk-shaped pickles have a tendency to slip and slide off of sandwiches, but a tangle of pickled zoodles has a coarser, grippier texture to help them stay put, and their noodle-like shape makes them fun to pile on top of cheese. And, unlike a lot of zucchini pickles (especially those made with big, tough zucchini), there’s no need to season with salt and draw out moisture beforehand—a simple soak in brine is all it takes.
You can use any brine recipe you like, but I adapted my Big Pickle brine to make many slender pickles. All you need is vinegar, sugar, salt, and a little bit of mustard.
Pickled zoodles (can be scaled up if you have an absurd amount of zoodles):
1-2 cups of spiralized zucchini
5 cloves smashed or sliced garlic (optional)
1 cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
6 peppercorns (optional)
Place the zucchini in a sanitized jar and fill it with zoodles, and mix in the garlic if you’re using. Add the remaining ingredients to a sauce pan, bring to boil, and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour the hot brine over the zoodles, let cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge. Serve on a cheese board, sandwich, or anything else that could use a tangled mess of sweet and sour pickles.