Spiral Surprise: Make Way for Veggie Spaghetti

Julienne, spiral, curl and enjoy vegetables in a whole new way.

Don’t get us wrong pasta, we love you smothered in a rich Alfredo or zesty marinara sauces and most definitely paired with garlicky bread goodness, but, sometimes, we crave pasta without the carb overload that leaves us feeling a tad too lethargic. How about recreating favorite pasta dishes using—vegetables?

Spiralized veggie dishes (veggie spaghetti) are the latest rage—recipes abound on online and in culinary blogs, and veggie spaghetti are now sold in grocery stores and even local restaurants. Creating them is as easy as grabbing a favorite produce and a spiralizer tool. Beets, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, zucchini, carrots—the possibilities are endless, and with a vegetable peeler or the twist of a spiralizer, home cooks can easily create curly veggie spaghetti.

If it all sounds a little too complicated, fear not. Home cooks can spiralize and sauté veggie spaghetti in the same amount of time—and often less—than it takes to boil pasta.  The benefits of veggie noodles are eye-opening, having  the carbs and the calories of regular pasta noodles. While an average cup of pasta equates to 221 calories, a cup of spiralized zucchini is a mere 25 calories per cup, not to mention the additional benefits of antioxidants, vitamins and nutrients that it provides.

Veggie spaghetti also meets a variety of dietary needs. They are free of gluten, grain and wheat, are unprocessed and low carb—so what’s not to love? As for dressing veggie spaghetti up, treat them like any pasta dish with a complimentary marinara, pesto or any sauce that strikes your fancy.

As the spiralized veggie trend continues, local grocers now carry ready-made veggie spaghetti entrees. Lakewinds in Chanhassen sells Earthbound Farm Organic sweet potato, zucchini, butternut squash and beet noodles in the produce section and also offers a Moroccan chicken and zoodles entrée in the deli. Kowalski’s in Eden Prairie sells the raw versions already spiralized, so they can be prepared at home. Target in Chaska offers Veggie Noodle Co. beet, zucchini and sweet potato varieties packaged for easy meal preparation.  

Try Veggie Spaghetti at Home

16 oz. Kowalski’s Pomodoro sauce
2 Tbsp. chopped, pitted green olives
2 Tbsp. chopped, pitted Kalamata olives
1 ½ tsp. drained capers
1 ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 pkg. spiralized zucchini noodles

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine Pomodoro sauce with olives, capers, Worcestershire sauce and crushed red pepper; heat until hot and ready to serve. Toss zucchini noodles with sauce; cook just until barely wilted. Serve.
—courtesy of Kowalksi’s

Take Five With Houlihan’s

Houlihan’s puts a twist on traditional pasta dishes by collaborating with Ali Maffucci of Inspiralized.com.  Kris VonBusch, restaurant operations manager, walks us through the tasty veggie spaghetti selections Houlihan’s offers those craving pasta without the carbs.

1. What veggie spaghetti entrees do you offer?
a) Spiralized Zucchini Pesto Salad — This new take on a side salad features zucchini “noodles,” an organic kale-spinach-chard blend, pesto and artichoke hearts in a lemon vinaigrette. $5.75; 480 calories  
b) Spiralized Butternut Squash and Sausage Lasagna —A comforting dish made with spiralized butternut squash “noodles,” ricotta, marinara and Italian sausage. $15.95; 440 calories
c) Spiralized Thai Noodle Salad —Sriracha Thai peanut sauce is tossed over spiralized zucchini noodles and a medley of flavors. $13.95; 610 calories; add grilled chicken $15.95 +300 calories; or salmon $16.95 +290 calories

2. Why did you decide to feature veggie spaghetti on your menu?
“Each of our Inspiralized menu items was carefully crafted to showcase how delicious vegetables can be when complemented with additional ingredients to enhance the natural flavors of the vegetables. And the spiralized mission to eat clean while still tasting delicious took off.”

3. What is your most popular veggie spaghetti dish?
“This can change a bit with the seasons. The squash lasagna has been very popular, but with the warmer weather, folks seem to be gravitating to the Thai ‘noodle’ salad with choice of protein.”
4. Why do you think spiralized pasta dishes are so popular?
“When Houlihan’s Inspiralized menu rolled out last year, pasta was replaced with vegetable ‘noodles’ for reduced carbs and sugar. Guests appreciated the shift so much that [spiralized veggie dishes] have moved to our regular lunch and dinner menus.”   
5. How have guests responded?
“Guests appreciate that Houlihan’s listened to the fact that they want healthy, yet flavorful, options when dining out—spiralized veggies are the perfect solution.”