Pasta. As an ingredient it is infinitely adaptable, with prep time and effort ranging from boiling water to complex dishes. But it isn’t always the healthiest choice. Unless the pasta is 100 percent whole grain, it will have refined grains. Registered Dietitian Joy Bauer explains how refined grains affect the body on her website. ”Refined grains are quickly digested into simple sugars and absorbed into your bloodstream; this can cause blood-sugar levels to spike and then quickly crash. These rapid swings in blood sugar can drain your energy and leave you feeling moody and tired.”
Higher quality carbohydrates have the exact opposite effect. Those carbohydrates “are rich in fiber, which helps temper blood sugars by slowing the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream after meals.” One example is whole grains, but vegetables are another good source for energy-sustaining carbohydrates. They can also be made into “pasta” dishes.
In addition to being a better carbohydrate source than refined grain pasta, vegetables are naturally gluten-free. So making vegetable-based pastas can be diet-friendly for those who have given up grains or gluten, and sneaks more vegetables into daily eating habits. Check out the following 5 recipes to see how to turn your vegetables into a noodle dish for your next meal.
By now, most people are probably familiar with eggplant parmesan. For those sticking to a gluten-free, or grain-free life style, the regular recipe would have to be adapted to find a substitute — or a way around — the breadcrumbs in the dish. Another option is to try something different entirely, with this recipe for Eggplant Pasta by Alton Brown. It serves 4, has 10 minutes of prep time, and 40 minutes cooking time.
2 medium-large eggplants
Kosher salt, for purging
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
4 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup cream
4 tablespoons basil chiffonade
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Freshly ground pepper
Directions: Peel each eggplant leaving 1-inch of skin at the top and bottom unpeeled. Slice the eggplant thinly lengthwise, about 1/4-inch thick. Evenly coat each slice with the salt and purge on a sheet pan fitted with a rack for 30 minutes. Rinse with cold water and roll in paper towels to dry. Slice the pieces into thin strips to resemble pasta.
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil. Add the garlic and chili flakes and toast. Add the eggplant “pasta” and toss to coat. Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Add the cream and increase heat to thicken sauce. Finally add the basil and Parmesan and toss to combine. Season with pepper, no salt needed as the eggplant will have residual salt from the purge. Serve immediately.
When purchased whole, carrots can be peeled down into ribbons. Depending on how thick you peel the carrots, you can have a thicker or thinner noodles. Also like pasta, how long you cook the carrots will determine the firmness of the noodle. The Kitchn’s Carrot Ribbon Fettuccine uses rainbow carrots to add even more color to this “pasta” dish.
Starting with the most adaptable, this is the most basic recipe for zucchini pasta. It is a take on the classic “spaghetti and meatballs.” You can use any meatball recipe you like, or if you prefer to omit that entirely, you can make the recipe as is. Whatscookingamerica.net explains that the noodles can be formed using a mandolin or spiral vegetable peeler to slice the zucchini lengthwise into long, thin strands. If you do not have either of those, you can peel lengthwise, like with the carrots, or cut lengthwise using a knife.
1-3 zucchinis, julienned
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced
3. Zucchini, redux
1 onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
3 tablespoons almond butter
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 lime, juiced
salt and pepper
After it is cooked, the strands of the spaghetti squash will closely resemble its noodle counterpart. This is another vegetable that pairs well with marinara sauce, and if you’d like, you can follow the baking ingredients for the squash and substitute your own sauce. The baking time may vary by size of squash, and over.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 tablespoons sliced black olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil