True comfort food and an obvious staple in Italian cuisine, pasta has been far from integral in my life. Always fun to look at in endless shapes and sizes – long, short, thick, thin, tubular, and twisty – but much more difficult for me to eat and digest. Sadly, instead of figuring out exactly why pasta and I had such issues, I just gravitated away from it.
Dining out at Italian restaurants was thus never particularly enticing – unless of course the place specialized in my favorite flatbread-like wood fired pizzas or had alternative dishes like risotto (arborio rice) and gnocchi (potato-based) on the menu (both of which I love, love, love).
Due to more research and knowledge nowadays (or perhaps just hype?), I’ve discovered that I seem to have a sensitivity to food containing gluten, and thus have tried to find alternatives that are easier to digest. As part of that research at Trader Joe’s, I discovered this amazing alternative pasta product:
Fusili pasta made with brown rice AND quinoa? No flour? Interesting. My first thought: This is amazing. My second thought: This is going to taste like crap. I’ve already tried a multitude of non-traditional whole wheat pastas that claim to be “healthy,” but never found one that retained the same soft consistency of pasta – oh, and most importantly, actually tasted good.
I’m happy to report that I’ve now cooked this brown rice and quinoa pasta on multiple occasions – both in a standard pasta & sauce dish, and also in a baked pasta casserole. It works well and tastes great! More interestingly, however, is the fact that is digests well! Trust me when I say that you don’t feel heavy, bloated, nor overly full. Unheard of when eating pasta, right?
The other interesting pasta discovery comes from using vegetables to create your pasta. This obviously requires more work and a few kitchen tools that you may have to purchase, but in my opinion, it’s probably some of the best tasting “pasta” I’ve ever had. That, and it’s completely RAW. Talk about healthy.
Step #1 involves investesting in a spiralizer. The name sounds like a gimmick, yes, but it’s the best little machine I’ve had in my kitchen in quite some time! I’m actually not even sure I can call it a “machine” persay, because there is no power cord nor any batteries. It simply works with manpower – a crank of the handle. Old school. Most def.
I debated for weeks when purchasing one, because they range from $10.00 to $50.00 and all look fairly identical (either handheld or tabletop), yet are branded differently. The epitome of confusing.
Should I purchase a handheld one? Do I allot more space in the kitchen and get a tabletop one? Is $10.00 too cheap for a tool like this? Are the blades sharper on one? How sturdy is the plastic? Is this a product where “what you pay for is what you get”? I’ve never heard of any of these brands! What to do, what to do!
After seeing one online that looked decent and mid-range in price, I checked it out in person at Bed, Bath & Beyond so I could actually inspect what I was purchasing (here’s where online shopping has a disadvantage) and was severely disappointed in the quality of the construction. I’m a little obsessive about the kitchen tools and items I purchase. Just in case you can’t tell, ya know?
In order to not waste any more time practically spiralizing my brain, I ended up purchasing a slightly higher end model that I purchased on Amazon.com mostly because the brand sounded more Italian than the others. I love my process of elimination. My thought: Maybe the $$ I pay will be in direct correlation to the sturdiness of the tool? We’ll see. I’ll review it in a product post at a future point in time if it actually withstands the test of time and doesn’t fall apart. For now, just purchase something to your liking. If it craps out on you, you can come back to see how mine did.
Back to spiralizing – you can spiralize anything. Carrots. Potatoes. Zucchini. Anything the machine will hold and anything that you want to turn into fun spaghetti-like noodles to either sautee, fry, or just eat raw (as in this case).
Zucchini. My choice of pasta. I prepared an avocado vinaigrette, lathered it all over the spiralized zucchini, and let it sit for five minutes (this enables flavors to marinate and the zucchini to soften). Add a touch of salt & pepper, pine nuts, and fresh tomatoes – and voila! Zoodles galore.
Of course, the possibilities are endless with something like this. The minute you change veggies or the sauce used, you’ve got a completely new dish. Feel free to let the creative juices flow and create vinaigrettes out of whatever your heart desires. Or, you can always take the easy route and toss it in some store-bought marinara sauce for a quick fix. The choice is yours.
Noodle on it a bit.