FOODIE FRIDAY: THE SPIRALIZER AND OTHER PASTA OPTIONS
I have thought about doing a blog post going over some of the more useful tools to have in your kitchen, and I will likely get around to that at some point. Not today. Today is for one of my new favorite and completely unnecessary kitchen gadgets- the Spiralizer! The name even sounds like one of those guilty Home Shopping Network purchases that a person would make…
I own one of these personally, too, although a slightly less-fancy model. It does all the basics. I got it at William Sonoma since I am not a frequenter of the Home Shopping Network, and I am quickly learning to love this little tool and what it can do for me. What it does for me is re-open the world of pasta! I wasn’t really brought up in a family that ate a ton of pasta, so it has always been an infrequent menu item. When the Paleo lifestyle hit us almost 5 years ago, we said good-bye to anything like that, except for spaghetti squash. Now the Spiralizer has opened a new world of noodles for pastas, Asian dishes, and simply more interesting shapes for veggies in salads.
First option, the easiest way to sub-out pasta, and what I used to do for years was cook spaghetti squash. This is still a great option, and can be used for all sorts of things. It’s also easy to cook.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut the squash in half lengthways. Scrape out the seeds.
- Lay cut-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet and stick it in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
- Pull it out, use a cloth to flip the halves of squash over and allow to cool slightly, then use a fork to scrape out the flesh- it will come away stringy and noodle-like.
This is great with pasta sauce, and leftover cooked spaghetti squash mixed with beaten egg and herbs will fry up like a giant patty in a skillet- great for BREAKFAST or as a different side.
Now that I have this new toy, so I have been spiralizing zucchini, yellow squash and sweet potatoes to use in place of pasta. The tool itself is easy to use, not too difficult to clean up after, and with more use, I am finding out a few things which may be important to remember. Such as: cut the “noodles” you make into edible lengths, or else you end up with really, really long and annoying noodles which are hard to transfer from pan to plate. Also, you don’t want to overcook these things. Zucchini and summer squash will cook down to mush if you aren’t careful, so best thrown in at the end and tossed quickly in the pan with the sauce, just enough to heat through. They also produce a lot of their own liquid when you overcook, so it could make your lovely sauce a bit runny if you overcook the zoodles. Sweet potato noodles are very easily baked on a baking sheet in the oven with a piece of foil over the top. And again, cooking lightly is important so they maintain their structure.
If you are trying to avoid pasta but live with people who have no issues with it, then what I do is make the sauce, cook pasta as per normal and serve in a separate dish and make the zoodles, quickly frying them in coconut oil or ghee and serving them on their own. The pasta-eaters are satisfied, and you don’t feel deprived. I have been doing this for years on yachts for crew and it keeps everyone happy. People make their own plate, you are a champ for covering all bases!
I recently made a South-Asian inspired soupy stew, kind of like a Laksa Soup, which you would serve with noodles. Instead of cooking off my yellow squash noodles, I just put them raw into bowls and we ladled the steaming hot soup over the top, which actually worked out wonderfully because the crunch of the noodles was a nice texture with the soup.
I was actually served zucchini noodles with pesto at a restaurant in Palm Beach this spring. Loved it so much that I copied (as you do). I sautéed shrimp quickly with garlic in a pot, dumped in a huge dollop of pesto and as soon as that was bubbling, my zucchini noodles went into the pot for about 5 or 6 good stirs, and it hit the serving dish. Quick, easy and tasty.
You can use the different blade options to make your noodles different diameters, or to simply slice veggies for salads. I love the crunch that raw sprialized daikon radish and raw beets and carrots add to salads! As with anything, Pinterest has been a saving grace with a ton of recipes to be found. I did buy a Spiralizer cookbook, but I must admit that I am mostly a wing-it kind of chef, so have very briefly looked this over once and completely just done my own thing. But they are out there…
Is this a must-have kitchen toy? Absolutely not! Not even close, but it’s been a fun addition to my repertoire, so if you are experiencing a bit of stagnancy, or want pasta without the pasta, or perhaps are trying to sneak more vegetables into your diet, then this could be a great option.
Fair winds and following seas!