What? You don’t have a spiralizer on your kitchen counter? Shock horror! The current hot talent on the nutritional catwalk is hands down this simple, magical kitchen appliance, which has the potential to transform one of the health world’s greatest foes into an ally.
Yes, that’s pasta I’m referring to: the high-carb, calorie-loaded, diet spoiler that sadly is also arguably the most comforting and satisfying food you can eat. But what if there were a way to enjoy all the noodles you want without any guilt. Now that’s a game changer.
I’d like to introduce you to your new best friends: courgetti, zoodles, vegetti and ribbon noodles. These are the same shapes as their pasta equivalents but made with vegetables – they contain no refined wheat, gluten, bloat or digestion issues – just vegetables. As the Hemsley sisters say, ‘the spiralizer is the secret weapon for the health-conscious cook’.
Making zoodles couldn’t be simpler. You can choose from a variety of vegetables (be adventurous!) but I’ve found that courgettes (zucchini), carrots, butternut squash, cucumber, beets, yellow squash and celeriac work best. All you have to do is wash your vegetable(s) of choice, peel them if necessary (butternut squash or celeriac, for example), choose which size setting you want to use and zoom them through your spiralizer to get nutrient-dense noodles in a matter of minutes.
I’ve found that courgettes (zucchini), carrots, butternut squash, cucumber, beets, yellow squash and celeriac work best.
If you don’t have the space for a spiralizer in your kitchen, don’t panic. For soft vegetables such as courgette, you can use a Julienne Peeler (as you would a normal peeler). It will give you the delicious thin noodles that you’re after, which you can use as a light and easy replacement for spaghetti or pasta in just about any dish. Or – for some added greens – you can mix the zoodles throughout your dish to give a light crunch.
Aida Foustok, founder of the organic juice bar and kitchen, Juicebaby, makes a lot of spirals with her spiralizer and gave me this good advice: ‘My top tip is to slice the ends off your vegetables to ensure that the blade is working against a flat surface. One end is inserted into the centre of the cutting blade and the other end secured with the prong handle.
The vegetable is then pushed gently towards the blade by rotating the crank. The trick is to spiralize vegetables that are thick, straight and don’t contain too many seeds as these can block the blades. It’s important to straighten the vegetables while spiralizing as most tend to have a natural curve.’
Take it from me – I’m as close to a professional zoodle-maker as they come – this is easy, quick business…
Once you’ve spiralized your veggies, the next bit is the fun part. Your fresh zoodles can be prepared one of three ways. The first choice is to leave them in their raw, crunchy state, which is a delicious way to add diverse vegetables to salads, stir-fries, soups or any raw dish you are creating.
Secondly, if you prefer a slightly softer texture but still want the dish to be cool and refreshing – say for a cold phad Thai or a summery pesto ‘pasta’ salad, you can blanch them briefly, then cool them. Lastly, you can blanch them briefly or sauté them in a pan and use them warm as a base for any pasta sauce, in a miso broth to make veggie ramen, or topped with any lean meat of your choice.
In my opinion the most successful and crowd-pleasing recipes are courgette noodles tossed with a hearty marinara sauce, topped with Bolognese if you are cooking meat, or paired with a rich walnut pesto. Beet noodles go brilliantly with traditional basil (or hemp seed) pesto and cucumber noodles are one of my family’s favourites topped with a tahini dressing.
But don’t limit yourself – the options are as vast as your imagination. I’ve known people to top butternut squash noodles with a classic carbonara sauce (although this still should be considered a treat!), or mix courgette noodles with olive oil, garlic, Parmesan, chilli flakes and parsley to create a greener version of the classic Italian ‘spaghetti aglio e olio’.
My kids think it’s really fun to watch the ‘curlies’, as they call them, come out the other end.
Take it from me – I’m as close to a professional zoodle-maker as they come – this is easy, quick business, and a bonus in my household is that my kids think it’s really fun to watch the ‘curlies’, as they call them, come out the other end. Spiralizers are inexpensive (I don’t think I’ve ever seen one that costs more than £80 but most are around £25), mess-free and easy to operate.
The Hemsley sisters are such fans that they have brought out their own spiralizer, which retails on their website and on amazon.co.uk for £29.95. Other brands offer a wide variety of spiralizers, ranging from the simplest model with only one blade to more elaborate versions with a greater choice. The decision about which to buy is very much up to you and how you intend to use it.
As vegan food advocate and author of the blog Deliciously Ella, Ella Woodward, says so well, ‘I love my spiralizer as it makes simple meals much more interesting. It turns a simple courgette into pasta, which is just amazing!’ How could I disagree?