A couple of years ago, I had a major bumper crop of zucchini. I found a million ways to eat it and cook with it, but this simple meal of shrimp with zucchini noodles and lemon-garlic butter was one I went back to again and again.
I’ve tried making zucchini ribbons with a simple vegetable peeler, a mandolin, and a spiralizer. I personally like using a vegetable peeler or mandolin the best. Making these wide pappardelle-like noodles wastes less of the vegetable than curly, spiralized zoodles. Also their texture is just so lovely.
Most mandolins will produce a slightly thicker noodle than the peeler. You might need to cook the noodles a minute or so longer if your noodles seem fairly thick.
The lemon-garlic butter is extra delicious because I brown the butter a little bit first and then steep the minced garlic in the butter while everything else cooks. The lemon juice goes in a the very last moment. This way, there's no risk of burning the garlic and the lemon juice tastes fresh.
This recipe works well as a light mid-week dinner, especially when you're in the mood for vegetables with a little protein, or as a side dish at a dinner party or potluck.
Shrimp with Zucchini Noodles and Lemon-Garlic Butter
- 4 to 5 medium zucchini
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used 26/30 count shrimp)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Zest from 1 lemon
- 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- Fresh chopped parsley, to garnish
Prepare the zucchini:
Lay the noodles out on paper towels in a single layer and sprinkle them with salt. Leave them to “sweat” for about 10 minutes.
Melt the butter and steep the garlic
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Tilt and swirl the pan gently to move the butter around. The butter will foam a bit, then begin to smell nutty and turn amber with small brown solids on the bottom.
Once this happens, immediately pour butter into a heat-proof bowl, jar, or cup. Use a spatula to scrape all of the browned bits into the bowl. Add the minced garlic to butter and set aside.
Season the shrimp
Pat the cleaned shrimp with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture, then toss them with a heavy pinch of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
Cook the shrimp
Wipe the skillet used to melt the butter clean. Return it to medium-high heat. When the skillet is hot (but not smoking) add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
Working in batches, cook the shrimp for about 2 minutes on each side. They should be pink and opaque, but not curled up too tightly. Transfer to a plate.
Cook the zucchini noodles
Pat the excess moisture from the noodles. Place the skillet back over medium high heat, and add a bit of cooking oil (just enough to coat).
Toss the zucchini gently in the pan so that it just begins to lose its stiffness. You want it to be al dente, just like pasta. The whole process shouldn’t take more than 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from heat.
Toss everything together and serve
Whisk lemon zest and juice into the brown butter and garlic. Off the heat, add the shrimp back to the pan with the zucchini and pour the lemon-garlic butter over top.
Toss to combine. Transfer to a serving platter or individual plates. Top with fresh parsley and serve.