Zoodles with a cilantro-avocado and sunflower seeds unctuous pesto topped with lightly spiced garlic-paprika shrimps. A great way to cut on carbs and fit right in that bikini this summer!cilantro Zoodles Pin

Creamy Cilantro Zoodles with paprika shrimps (5)

Zoodles, zoodles, zoodles… Quite a “hit” from last summer, not yet out of the spectrum of trends this summer… so let’s make good use of it! I’m looking for ways to cut on carbs those days and zoodles are a great way to imitate a plate of pasta without all the empty calories! If you don’t have a special instrument to make zoodles, no worry! Simply use the large hole cheese grater!

I’ve the zoodles ultra creamy with the help of an avocado based pesto and gave it a fresh touch of cilantro. If you are one of those “soap” tasting guys when you eat cilantro, just substitute it by some basil. Plus, since the carbs are out the window, the avocado will help make the dish a satisfying and unctuous one with it’s fat content. Don’t worry it’s a good “kind” of fat!

What is pesto exactly?

Creamy Cilantro Zoodles with paprika shrimpsWell I did not know if I could call this sauce a “pesto”, so I went on to check my good friend Wikipedia and got my answer. Pesto is technically a paste that is made by pounding, in other words, done in a mortar. I didn’t use a mortar, since I’m fairly lazy when it’s too hot in the kitchen to cook, but most people nowadays makes their pesto with the blender which … is the modern way to make pesto…. so I’ve used it for this “modern pesto”. The idea came from another Zoodle recipe I’ve made last year (Pesto-Avocado Zoodles) which was dreamy creamy, the perfect dish for a hot summer day. This time I wanted to use a different set of ingredients yet still similar to Genovese pesto. I’ve change the basil for cilantro, the pine nuts for sunflower seeds, the garlic for a fresh green pepper and to keep it vivid green and fresh a touch of lime. I wanted to use shrimps with the Zoodles to add proteins in there so I thought this Cilantro “creamy sweet pesto” would fit perfectly to the spiced shrimps.

Paprika’s many faces

Here, in Spain, there are many types of paprikas… the smoked, the spicy, the bittersweet and the sweet… Each done with different peppers and methods which gives them their own attributes, giving different directions to a dish. Although where I’m from, Canada, and am sure many other places. The markets often just have one or two type of “paprika”, you can generally find  a “smoked paprika” and then the general “paprika”. For this recipe, I wanted some of that “spicy” paprika for the shrimps, to complement the sweet cream pesto underneath so hopefully your version at home is the “spicy” kind. If not, add a sprinkle of espelette pepper or cayenne powder in there. We wouldn’t want to make this a “too sweet” dish and miss that nice dynamic duo that is spicy and sweet!

So let’s make zoodles!


Creamy Cilantro Zoodles with Paprika Shrimps

Makes 4 portions |Preparation: 15 minutes | Difficulty: easy

Creamy Cilantro Zoodles with paprika shrimpsIngredients
  • 6 zucchinis
  • shrimps (amount up to you)
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • paprika (spicy)
  • 40ml (1 shot) brandy  
  • salt and pepper
Cilantro Pesto
  • 50g of sunflower seeds
  • 2 full hands of fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 lime (juice)
  • 1/4 of a green bell pepper
  • 1 small avocado
  • salt and pepper
  1. Start by making the zoodles with the zucchinis, add them to a sieve with a sprinkle of salt
  2. In a blender mix all the ingredients for the cilantro pesto and reserve
  3. In a small pan, high heat, cook the shrimps with the vodka, garlic, paprika and salt and let them cook until the liquid is out (2 minutes)
  4. Rinse the pan and cook, high heat, the zoodles in a bit of olive oil for 1 minute, just enough to warm them up
  5. Add the pesto to the zoodles and mix
  6. Serve the shrimps on top of the zoodles with a lime wedge



Creamy Cilantro Zoodles with paprika shrimps

A burger with Spanish flavors starting by a chorizo style meat pattie of paprika, parsley and garlic topped by a typical roasted pepper and a nutty homemade romesco sauce and aioli to give this burger an “Olé” touch!paprika patties cheeseburger

Spanish Burger

It’s a first on the blog… a burger! With summer coming up it’s time to bring out the BBQ! I wanted to give it a personal touch since I’m living abroad in Spain… So I’ve done a Spanish version and it turned out into a truly tasty discovery!

The meat patties

Spanish BurgerFirst of all the meat patties are a mix of pork and beef which I happen to believe is a winning combination for any burger.  Adding pork to your patties also helps to keep the patties juicy, plus pork is the meat of choice in Spain making this combination a perfect one for this Spanish version Burger! The seasonning of the meat is pretty much what they do for chorizo sausages… (solely pork) which contains usually sweet and/or spicy paprika and garlic. Nothing too complex and I’ve added a tad of finely chopped flat leave parsley to the mix to give it a fresh touch.

The sauces

As for the sauces I’ve used another favorite from Spaniards which they use for their famous “french fries” dish called papas bravas... Well more precisely it’s the Catalan combination they use for papas bravas being aioli and romesco sauce which I thought would work great in this burger. The Romesco sauce is a “nutty” and healthier version of ketchup; its contains tomato, the pulp from a special sweet pepper (ñora), roasted garlic, vinegar,Romesco Sauce olive oil, roasted hazelnut and almond. I’ve done a homemade version with a normal red pepper instead of the “special” one.  (recipe here) The result is quite similar and it’s easy to make.  If you are lucky enough some of you might find the ñora or choricero paste or even the dried pepper hidden somewhere in some European specialized stores. The second sauce is aioli which is simply a garlic mayonnaise, if done the right way it shouldn’t have any eggs in there; the fresh garlic contain a natural emulsifier, but we’ll keep it simple for now and just use a premade aioli or if you prefer simply make a homemade mayonnaise and add a garlic clove to it and voila… Aioli! Yes… that simple!

So let’s start this BBQ season with Spanish flavors!


Spanish Style Burger

Makes 4 burgers

Spanish BurgerIngredients
  • 600g of ground meat (half pork – half beef)
  • 4 burgers buns
  • 2 small red bell peppers
  • lettuce
  • aioli
  • romesco sauce (check recipe here)
  • *caperberries or pickles for the side dish
Patties seasoning
  • 1 tbsp of sweet paprika
  • 1 tbsp of (*smokey paprika de la Vera) spicy paprika
  • 1 garlic clove finely minced
  • 2 tbsp of flat leave parsley finely chopped
  • salt and pepper

* optional

Step 1 The roasted pepper

The flame technique (faster): Add the clean peppers directly on top of a flame (BBQ or gas stove flame) and burn on all sides, until totally black and cover with aluminium foil and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

The oven technique: Add the pepper in the oven on the top level to broil for about 20 minutes (turn mid-way) until black on each side, cover in aluminium foil and let rest 10-15 minutes.

  • Take aluminium out and cut the extremities carefully (hot juice coming out) and with the help of a paper towel wipe off the blacken skin of the pepper
  • Cut each pepper into 2 or 3 squares and reserve
Step 2 the burgers
  1. Start by adding all the seasoning except the salt to the meat patties without overworking the meat, mix and form 4 nicely compressed patties
  2. Once the patties are formed add salt on them
  3. On a grilling pan or BBQ (check here for different techniques to cook burgers from Saveur magazine) bring to medium-high heat add the patties for 4 minutes minimum before flipping them (check the side of the pattie to see the cooking line)
  4. Add the cheese 1 minute before the end of cooking
  5. Cook the meat to your favorite doneness
  6. Warm up the bread a bit before making the burgers


Serve with caperberries. Que disfrutéis!

Spanish Burger

Paella de chorizo

Spain: land of paella, land of chorizo and land of good olive oil… this meal brings you there! If you can get to a good butcher, you should be able to find those paprika flavored fresh sausages, and if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll find an export from Spain. Chorizo in Spain varies: some are dried, others are fresh and some are spicy, smoky or sweet, depending on the paprika (pimenton) which is used. The sausage comes in all kind of forms, large, thPaella de chorizoin, in “U” shape etc. It is often served as a tapa into little clay pots. Sometimes it’s cooked in wine or cider or even flamed in cognac, however in this recipe I simply use a tiny bit of red wine.

Paella is a great dish created by the rice farmers from the Valencia region. Back in the day, farmers used to take any available ingredients they could easily find around them such as green beans, eels and snails, with some luck perhaps a rabbit, and they cooked it in a paella pan over a wood fire. This is how the “original” paella was born. Today they use a paellera (in spanish) to make it, and in summertime around town, you often see district diners on the streets with immense tables, where they cook those gigantic paellas. The paellera used for those places is so big that the cook needs a kind of paddle/spoon to mix it up.

Paella is a great meal, because it’s made for social events, like a lunch outside with friends on a Sunday afternoon, or a gathering with the whole family. In other words: it’s a really convivial meal. The most popular paella for foreigners is obviously the seafood paella, which is a meal aPaella de chorizonybody visiting Spain should try at least once. It’ s such a delicious meal!

The rice is a round, shorter grain then the basmati or the long grain rice… There are also many types and qualities of rice: from the easy bomba rice to the AOC ones like arroz del delta del Ebro, Valenciana or Calasparra. For beginners, the bomba rice is the easiest and almost impossible to mess up.

So let’s get cooking the “Spanish way”!

Chorizo Paella

portion of 4-5 pers.

  • 400g bomba rice
  • 500g chorizo (2x15cm long sausages)
  • 750 ml preheated chicken or vegetables broth
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 onion cut finely
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tbs thyme
  • 2 tbsp of red wine*optional
  • 1/2 zucchini in cubes *optional 
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs paprika (of your choice, sweet,smoky or spicy)
  • Salt and pepper
  1. In a paellera or big pan, soften the onion slowly in olive oil until translucent (15 min)
  2. Cut a tomato in 2 and grate it in the onion mix.
  3. Add the wine
  4. Add the sausage and garlic, sauté for 3 minutes.
  5. Make a well and add the rice in the middle. If there is oil from chorizo, there is no need to add more oil. If it’s a bit dry, add some olive oil.
  6. At medium-high heat, mix your rice for about a minute until translucent.
  7. Add the already warm broth to the rice, until it covers the rice by 5 mm (it should boil right away).
  8. Add the salt and pepper (right away yes), thyme and paprika, then mix.
  9. Add the vegetables on top, do not mix. Let it cook on high heat the first 10 min.
  10. Reduce the heat mid-way to medium 10 more minutes until it reaches the softness you want (I like harder, so 7 minutes is good here too)
  11. Keep it covert and let it rest for a few minutes (2min) before serving.

Hope you’ll enjoy that little piece of Spain! Olé!