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Vegetable Noodles 101

Basta, pasta: Lighten up your dinner routine by giving traditional spaghetti a break and taking a turn with spiral veggie slicers.


I am unabashedly pro-pasta. Give me a bowl of noodles, a brightly flavored sauce, and a fork to swirl it with and I'm a happy girl. But many people like, on occasion, to lay off the carbs a bit, especially during the warm, produce-abundant days of summer. That's why I'm a big fan of a food gadget that's gaining in popularity: spiral slicers that let you carve up long, thin, noodle-like slices of zucchini, squash, carrots, cucumbers, or pretty much any vegetable you can imagine. You get a meal with a lot fewer carbohydrates and calories, plus all the fiber and vitamins from your whole-food veggie ingredients. The prep couldn't be easier—or more fun. Start with washed, raw vegetables (depending on the food, you can leave on the peel for a nutritional boost, if you like). Then, depending on your spiral slicer model, either twist or crank to slice up spaghetti-like strands or wider, pappardelle-like ribbons.

 

A serrated peeler will do the trick for spaghetti-like strands as well!
The cooking is simple, too. There's no waiting for a giant pot of water to boil (and heat up the kitchen). Instead, the thinly sliced veggies cook up quickly in a sauté pan with a bit of olive oil, or even in a skillet with its accompanying sauce. If you've got a small kitchen, you might be reluctant to add yet another appliance to your overflowing cabinets or countertop (a spacesaving julienne peeler or a Microplane does the job, too, without the cool curlicues), but you'll find the gadget earns its keep once you give it a try and see how many different dishes you can make. Sweet potatoes and carrots make for nice, sweet noodles, and a mix of summer squash and carrots create a colorful salad. But zucchini is perhaps the most versatile and an easy veggie on which beginners can hone their noodle-cutting skills. Try it yourself with my recipe for zucchini spaghetti: After you cook a light sauce of golden tomatoes, you'll toss in the veggie noodles and cook for a couple of minutes to warm. Top with some Parmesan and a bit of fresh thyme, and there you have it: A dish to make any pasta lover never notice what's missing!

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