Zoodles, spirals, and ribbons—veggie noodles are all the rage. It’s not exactly a new concept. Moms have been steaming and scraping out the threads from spaghetti squash, and topping them with marinara and parmesan for decades. But the low-carb and gluten-free craze has people looking for even more creative alternatives. Veggies are obviously lower in calories than linguine, and it’s always a good idea to get some more of them on your plate!
If you’re thinking, this is a silly Pinterest thing, and you don’t like the idea of buying another kitchen gizmo—fair points. But if a spiralizer is going to help you slash calories, get more vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants into your diet, and encourage your kids to eat veggies, then go for it! It doesn’t cost much, and it can be fun.
Here’s what you need to know before you try out the veggie noodle trend. Plus, a few ideas to help you start spiralizing.
Tools: You might be able to get away with a veggie peeler for ribbons or a mandoline for thin shreds, but if you really want to do this, you need to spring for a spiralizer. The big decision: handheld or countertop. Handheld spiralizers, which work kind of like a pencil sharpener, can be a bit of a struggle to whirl, but it’s the lowest price point. Countertop spiralizers, which have a hand crank, are more reliable for regular spinning. Many include different blades for different purposes: wide ribbons kind of like pappardelle, thick noodles like linguine, slim noodles like spaghetti, and very fine noodles, à la angel hair.
Ingredients: Spiralizing works best with firm to hard vegetables that won’t turn into mush. You’ll get the most spirals from veggies that are thick and uniform in width. Zucchini noodles, or zoodles, are the star of the vegetable-into-noodle movement. Zucchini is firm, thick, and pretty straight sided, which makes it a dream to spiralize, and its mild flavor suits many sauces. But summer squash, sweet potato, butternut squash, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, jicama, daikon, and even apples and pears are also popular choices. Hello, curly fries! And fresh, crunchy salads.
Tips: Read the package instructions before you get started, and please don’t cut yourself. Set yourself up straight to maximize long spirals and minimize half moons. One more word on zucchini: Remember, it’s not going to behave exactly like pasta! Most recipes recommend sautéing zoodles for just a few minutes, rather than boiling, and they do release some liquid, so get rid of that before topping with sauce. And if at any point you have additional questions, never fear! There’s an army of food bloggers posting mesmerizing videos and tutorials.
Get ready. Get set. Now go with these five fresh ideas for veggie noodles.
1. ZUCCHINI NOODLES PRETEND TO BE PASTA
Zucchini is pretty good at pretending to be pasta. Cut it like spaghetti, give it a shimmy in a hot sauté pan, and top with tomato sauce or herb pesto.
Click here for a full recipe for Zucchini Noodles with Pesto & Grilled Shrimp.
2. SUMMER SQUASH RIBBONS MAKE GORGEOUS SALADS
Thinly sliced and generously dressed, zucchini or yellow squash makes a gorgeous salad, no cooking required. Toss wide ribbons with lemon and extra-virgin olive oil, add other summer vegetables, like wedges of heirloom tomatoes, and dot with feta and basil.
3. SWEET POTATOES TRANSFORM INTO CURLY FRIES
The only thing better than fries? Curly fries. Send superfood sweet potato through the spiralizer, toss with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and roast until crispy.
4. NOODLE SOUP SWAPS
Cut zucchini noodles fat like udon, slender like ramen, or ultra skinny like rice vermicelli. Slipped into a flavorful broth, they’re good enough to slurp.
5. SHRED CARROTS AND CUCUMBERS TO WRAP AND ROLL
A spiralizer takes all of the fuss out of fine chopping. Cut carrots and cucumbers on the finest setting, and then roll them up in Vietnamese-style fresh rolls or Thai-inspired wraps. Or you could pile them on an awesome banh mi sandwich, or toss in a simple slaw.
There are so many ways to spin it. What’s your favorite way to play with veggie noodles?
Written by Becky Duffett