Vegetable-Turkey Lo Mein with Zoodles is a crazy-fast meal when you do all of the vegetable prep in advance. Because you’re eating zoodles instead of rice or actual noodles, this meal has lower carbs and calories than a traditional lo mein.
First…my thoughts on spiralizers
Before I get to my Vegetable-Turkey Lo Mein with Zoodles recipe, let me set the stage. I have been glacially slow to jump on the spiralizer bandwagon because…well, I hate gadgets. They take up space, they usually only do one thing, and as long as I don’t know I can’t live without it, I can live without it.
Or something like that.
But then…my favorite kitchen store had a raging sale, which forced me to impulse-buy a spiralizer.
Then it sat in my hall closet for about 6 months before I ever looked at it again. I was at a loss. Am I really going to use this thing or take it back to the store? After pondering that question for a few days, only to forget about it for months and then stew about it all over again, I finally decided to put the spiralizer to the test.
Newly determined, I went out and bought some zucchini and loads of veggies to give it a try. I assembled the spiralizer, despite the fact that the box contained no directions (maybe someone else returned it, sans directions, after it sat in their closet for 6 months?). Also despite this fact, I managed to figure out that I had to crank the handle clockwise in order to make zoodles come out. Counter-clockwise cranking resulted in exactly nothing. I also managed to poke myself several times on the spikes designed to hold the vegetable in place.
Despite this inauspicious beginning, I was successful in my quest: there were oodles of zoodles. Rarely have I been so impressed with a gadget. There were 2-foot-long zoodles. How fun is THAT to slurp up? (Okay, not really: I cut the zoodles down to more manageable lengths) Appearance-wise, the zoodles looked gorgeous and vibrant—but I still had my doubts about how they’d cook.
I had a dish in mind for my first zoodles, recipe: a creation involving Asian-flavored ground meat and vegetables. And Vegetable-Turkey Lo Mein with Zoodles was born. It was originally inspired by the lettuce wraps at PF Chang’s, but it has since been healthified somewhat, losing the little fried crunchy things and gradually becoming so engorged with additional vegetables that it’s really morphed into more of a stir-fry. I usually serve it over rice, but I realized that zoodles would make the dish much lower in carbs—and therefore lighter.
My first zoodle dish: Vegetable-Turkey Lo Mein with Zoodles
What if I turned it into zoodle Lo Mein? Or—more appropriately—ZO Mein.
For the meat, I have used ground beef, pork, chicken, and turkey. Turkey and pork are my two favorites, so I usually opt for the leaner turkey.
The sauce has Sambal (chili garlic sauce), soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, fish sauce, Chinese 5-spice powder, and sugar or Splenda. We are chili heads in this house, so we go heavy on the Sambal. If you’re heat-averse, you can reduce the amount or leave it out altogether.
We love a ton of veggies in this dish. It’s got ginger, garlic, shiitake mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, onions, cilantro—and now, of course, zoodles. You can load it up with any stir-fry-able vegetable you like. One note: I have a BIG wok that can handle a lot of veggies. If you use a smaller pan, you may need to remove about half of the pan’s contents before stir-frying the zoodles. Then mix everything back together as you serve.
My wok was loaded to the gills with ground meat, vegetables, and sauce. I added in the zoodles and cooked for 3 minutes. Then, I took a timid bite of my vegetable-turkey lo mein with zoodles, and…IT WAS AWESOME. I dished up this (gorgeous) revolutionary concoction and served it to Phil. He raved about how great the zoodles were, that I should put in MORE, and that he just might like it better than pasta. SCORE.
Vegetable-Turkey Lo Mein with Zoodles: Vegetarian option
You can easily make Vegetable-Turkey Lo Mein with Zoodles into an awesome vegetarian dish, obviously, if you leave out the ground meat altogether and go completely hog wild with the vegetables. Since fish sauce isn’t vegetarian, here’s a great vegetarian substitute.
So there you have it. My healthified PF Chang’s copycat attempt just got even HEALTHIER. I hope you enjoy Vegetable-Turkey Lo Mein with Zoodles as much as we do!
(For more one-pot dinner inspiration, see Mastering Easy One-Pot Meal Recipes!)
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. peanut oil
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 3 medium zucchini ends trimmed; spiralized to make ~4 cups
- 1/2 head of a medium-sized cabbage coarsely chopped to make ~4 cups
- 2 cups onion coarsely chopped
- 1 cup carrots sliced ~1/4” on the bias
- 2 tbsp. garlic finely minced
- 2 tbsp. ginger finely minced
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms sliced
- 1/8 cup rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar or substitute Splenda
- 1 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder
- 1 tbsp. Sambal chili garlic sauce, or to taste
- 1/4 cup minced cilantro for garnish optional
Warm the vegetable oil in a large wok or skillet set over medium heat (see Recipe Note #1). Add the ground turkey, breaking it up into small bits as it cooks. When the turkey is uniformly browned, drain it well and set aside.
Wipe out the wok and set it over medium-high heat with the peanut oil. Add the onions and carrots, stir-frying until slightly softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger; sauté an additional minute. Add the mushrooms and cabbage; continue to stir-fry until the cabbage has wilted down somewhat.
Add the meat back to the pan. Mix the vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, and sambal, and add to the wok. Stir well to combine. Add in the zoodles and continue stir-frying for 3-4 minutes, or until the zoodles reach the consistency you like. (We like ours on the slightly firm side, so 3 minutes is good for us.)
Dish up and garnish with cilantro (unless you’re a hater). Enjoy!
- You will need a large wok or skillet for this job. If you don't have one, you'll want to remove about half of the vegetable mixture before adding in the meat and zoodles. You can mix everything back together in a large bowl after the zoodles are cooked through.
- WORK AHEAD: you can prep all of your vegetables in advance. I chop and mince all the veggies and spiralize the noodles the night before. The zoodles keep well in zip-top bags, and I keep all the others in plastic containers, placing the vegetables that are added simultaneously into the same container.
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