For a while there I was eyeing up the “spiralizer” gadget on the internet. I considered putting it in my Amazon cart many times, but ultimately decided that it was just one of those things with one purpose and it would take up too much space in our small kitchen. But then around the turn of the new year (big surprise), Robert and I decided we wanted to start limiting how often we make pasta, hoping to incorporate some lighter meals into our weeknights more often. It can be really tempting to make a hearty pasta dish one night because it will last us through half the week, but that also means we end up eating pasta for 3 nights in a row. It’s tasty and efficient (cooking one meal for 3 days), but when that one meal is pasta, it can also leave you feeling heavy and bloated throughout the week. So with our newfound desire to start cooking lighter meals, Robert expressed an interest in getting a spiralizer (which I took as a major green light) and we bought one as a bit of an impulse purchase during our frenzy of “new year, new us.”
Once it arrived we were VERY excited to try it out, but we weren’t entirely prepared for how awesome this thing is. Let me just tell you this: It is SO SATISFYING. We started out with zucchini (which is a great starter vegetable for this contraption), and within 15 seconds we had a bowl full of noodles. I think both of our jaws dropped and then we did a little jig of delight. “Do it again! Do it again!” We put the second zucchini through. Thirty seconds of work and we had a huge bowl full of zucchini noodles. We had tried making zucchini noodles in the past with just a julienne peeler (which works in a pinch), but this is SO. MUCH. EASIER. I also like that you get a thicker noodle (that actually resembles spaghetti) as opposed to the thin flat “noodles” you get with a julienne peeler.
Robert loves using the spiralizer so much that I almost never use it. I think he’s kind of taken ownership over it, like it’s one of his major tasks in the kitchen (in addition to cooking meat and knowing exactly when to pull the pasta out of the water). That’s how I knew I could rope him into being my spiralizer model for this post. (FYI – we don’t normally spiralize at our couch and coffee table, but I do the bulk of my blog photography in the living room because LOOK AT THAT LIGHT so …. yeah.)
Within a week of receiving our new toy I had a copy of Inspiralized in my hands. It’s the book by Ali Maffucci, the woman behind the blog of the same name. Have you seen her blog? She has turned her life and health around by using the spiralizer to make healthy meals. In fact, she recently released her own version of the spiralizer, called the Inspiralizer. We have an older version because we bought it before she came out with hers, but I would recommend getting Ali’s because I’m sure she’s worked out all of the kinks from past editions. This girl knows her spiralizer (or rather, “Inspiralizer”). You could literally cook meals with a spiralizer for the rest of your days thanks to her blog, and now her book.
We started going nuts with this thing. We even had a whole week where we ate our dinners exclusively from the book (which happily ended up being right before our Feast of St. Pizza, so that was good timing). I’d like to note that these recipes work very well for weeknights. They were some of the fastest weeknight meals we’ve ever prepared – they don’t use a ton of ingredients, a lot of it is fresh and the spiralizer does most of the work for you.
I find that boiling pasta water can be one of the most annoying parts of making pasta dishes. Vegetable noodles are often faster than making regular noodles because if you’re boiling them they usually only need a quick minute or two in the water, and many of them you can eat raw or just require a quick roast in the oven or saute in the pan (so you don’t even have to wait for water to boil). With these recipes you’re spending most of your time on the sauce or complimentary meat and vegetables, and then your spiralized veggie noodles bring it all together in a matter of seconds.
One thing I’ve learned since spiralizing and limiting our “real” pasta intake is that there’s more to love about pasta than just the carbs – It’s about having a bowl of comfort with things you can pick up with a fork that are covered in a tasty sauce. Sure, part of me still craves those little bow tie pasta shapes from time to time, but it’s nice to know that when I’m craving carbonara or a pesto pasta, I can just as easily fulfill that craving with veggie noodles and be all the better for it. (And it might even take less time to make it.)
So far we’ve made the bacon cacio e pepe (with zucchini), halibut en papillote with butternut squash noodles (but we subbed salmon for the halibut), Thai drunken zucchini noodles, sweet potato carbonara, miso-tahini carrot noodles, and I’ve got my eyes on quite a few more. We did our best to experiment with a handful of different vegetables so we could really get a feel for it. The carrot noodles were one of my favorites. I also loved the bacon cacio e pepe because the sauce was basically just cheese and bacon, but I didn’t feel too bad about it because I was also eating a bowl of zucchini. Balance!
I chose to share this beet pasta with oranges, honey walnuts and crispy kale with you today because it’s not something I would have thrown together on my own. We decided to be a little adventurous and try this one from the book even though we’re not huge fans of beets, and we ended up loving it. I prefer to eat beets when they’re diced very small, so these spiralized beet noodles were perfect. This is called a pasta dish but it’s really a salad. I bet it would be wonderful with the addition of some goat cheese, but it’s perfectly delicious without it. The orange dressing is lovely, so I can’t wait to use that on other salads, and don’t even get me started on that crispy kale or those honey walnuts. It’s just all so good.
The other great thing about this recipe is that even if you don’t have a spiralizer, have no fear: You could easily just chop some beets into small pieces and roast them that way, and then toss that with everything else from this dish and you will be no worse off than if you did have the spiralizer. In this case the gadget is mainly serving the purpose of making an easy task of “chopping” the beets into thin pieces so they will cook in a very short amount of time. But also – veggie noodles are fun and instantly make your bowl of food more delightful. So you should probably just get that spiralizer.
- juice from ¼ of a large lemon
- salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh orange juice (from about ½ of an orange)
- 2 tsp dijon or whole grain mustard
- 2-3 beets, peeled and spiralized with blade C
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- cooking spray
- 1 large orange (cara cara, blood orange, etc.), peeled and cut into eighths
- 2 cups roughly chopped kale (stems removed)
- ¾ cup walnuts
- 1 tbsp honey
- Whisk the ingredients for the vinaigrette together in a small bowl and refrigerate.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the beet noodles on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes.
- Lightly coat a separate baking sheet with cooking spray (or use parchment paper), and place the orange pieces on one side and the kale on the other. Lightly coat the kale with the cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, tossing halfway through to ensure even crispness.
- Remove the kale and add the walnuts to the baking sheet where the kale was (keeping the oranges on the baking sheet as well). Warm the honey briefly in the microwave or in a small saucepan to make it more easily pourable, and then drizzle it over the walnuts and toss carefully. Return the baking sheet to the oven for about 5 more minutes or until the nuts are lightly toasted.
- Divide the roasted beet noodles among serving plates and top with the orange pieces, walnuts and kale. Drizzle the vinaigrette on top and serve.