Paleo Zucchini “Noodle” Salad with Tahini-Ginger Dressing

Why This Recipe Works

With their bold, Asian-inspired flavors and bountiful crisp-tender vegetables, cool noodle salads make perfect vegetarian lunches or dinners. But coming up with a paleo-friendly version presents an obvious challenge: Traditional Asian noodles are made from rice, wheat, or other nonpaleo ingredients. Although we considered making paleo noodles from almond, coconut, or tapioca flour, we decided instead to keep the recipe simple by using spiralized vegetables. We tested a wide range of vegetables to find which one provided the best texture and worked with the other ingredients in the recipe. Cucumber noodles contained too much liquid and made the sauce watery. Noodles made from sweet potatoes were dry and brittle. Zucchini noodles were the clear winner: The squash was easy to work with and produced long, satisfying noodles with a pleasant, neutral flavor. Next, we shifted our focus to how the noodles would be treated. We first tried boiling them, but they absorbed extra water that leached out into our finished entrée. Stir-frying the noodles proved no better. In the end, we found that leaving the zucchini noodles raw gave us a texture closer to that of real noodles; plus, tasters enjoyed their delicate flavor. To bulk up the salad, we added red bell pepper, shredded carrot, and sautéed broccoli. Since many noodle salad dressings rely on peanut butter as their base, we decided to replace it with paleo-friendly tahini, a nutty, buttery paste made from ground sesame seeds. Coconut aminos and other Asian-inspired ingredients like ginger, rice vinegar, and garlic rounded out the flavor of the dressing.


Print Shopping List

½ cup tahini
5 tablespoons coconut aminos
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons hot sauce
Kosher salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
12 ounces broccoli florets, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 pounds zucchini, trimmed
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch-wide strips
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
4 scallions, sliced thin on bias
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted
Nutritional Information


Per Serving (Serves 4)

  • Calories 394
  • Cholesterol 0g
  • Fat 25 g
  • Sodium 1309 mg
  • Saturated 3 g
  • Carbs 35 g
  • Trans 0g
  • Dietary Fiber 8 g
  • Monounsaturated 9 g
  • Sugar 19 g
  • Polyunsaturated 10 g
  • Protein 13 g

The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Serves 4 to 6

If possible, use smaller, in-season zucchini, which have thinner skins and fewer seeds. This recipe calls for a 12-inch nonstick skillet; however, a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet can be used instead.

1. Process tahini, coconut aminos, vinegar, ginger, honey, hot sauce, 1 teaspoon salt, and garlic in blender until smooth, about 30 seconds; transfer to large serving bowl.

2. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add ­broccoli and cook until softened and spotty brown, about 5 minutes; transfer to plate and let cool slightly.

3. Using spiralizer, cut zucchini into 1/8-inch-thick noodles, then cut noodles into 12-inch lengths. Add zucchini, bell pepper, carrot, scallions, and broccoli to bowl with dressing and toss to combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve.