I love pasta. No, really, I love it. If given the choice to eat pasta every day, I would. That said, sadly, pasta does not align with my policy of getting the most nutritional bang for my buck. Pasta isn’t bad for you; it just doesn’t add a lot to your diet. Carbohydrates are key to a healthy diet, but there are more nutritious ways to get what you need. I’ve been struggling with this love for most of my life. And when I say struggling I mean I’ve been eating pasta despite my nutrition policy. I am a bit of a closet pasta eater (can you picture that?). So for this month’s seasonal recipe highlight, I explored ways to get my pasta fix without all the pasta. It sounds impossible, I know, but I think I’m onto something.
Moderation doesn’t really work for me. I’m a “volume eater.” Just thinking about a big bowl of spaghetti makes me excited! So the challenge is to amp up its nutritional value. I do that by swapping the garden-variety flour and water spaghetti for zucchini spaghetti, more popularly known as zoodles (zucchini transformed into noodles). I realize that doesn’t sound like a fair and even swap. I wouldn’t have believed it either. But then I tried it and, well, I now believe.
First, I did not buy any equipment. Maybe I will eventually invest in a spiralizer tool, but to start, I bought prepared zoodles. The fact that my neighborhood grocery store sells zoodles is an indicator that I’m quite late in the zoodles discovery game. Its existence in the store also bolstered my confidence that zoodles may very well be a sustainable answer to a big bowl of pasta.
I started this cooking experiment following the concept of “what grows together goes together.” Zucchini is a spring/summer vegetable (available May through Mid-September), so the ingredients I chose followed suit. During that same grocery store trip when I bought my first zoodles, I also picked up garlic, grape tomatoes, and basil. When I got home, I used the ingredients in the exact same way I do when making spaghetti with fresh tomato sauce. Much to my surprise, it worked! I made the dish at least four times in the first week to make sure all my measurements worked and to confirm that I really loved my new big bowl of pasta. I experimented with variations, adding red peppers, arugula, and ricotta cheese to the dish. Everything worked (see the variations section of this recipe). With all the ingredients of a traditional bowl of spaghetti and using zoodles as spaghetti, the flavors and textures are the same. Honestly, I may even like the texture of the zoodles more than that of spaghetti. I’m hooked.
I am dying for everyone to try this recipe for themselves. It’s nostalgic and kid-friendly too. Let me know your thoughts. In the meantime, I am working on a lemon “pasta” recipe made with zoodles, so keep your eyes out on our Wednesday newsletter for future zoodle recipes!
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