Spiralizing zucchini into pasta is a great way to bump up your vegetable consumption (read: disguise veggies). It allows carb-haters and calorie-counters alike to keep eating a favorite comfort food, and it adds extra versatility to a clean diet. Zucchini spaghetti is one of my favorite meals that loves me back. Naturally, I wanted to share it with you.
Yes, I could live without my spiralizer. But I wouldn’t want to, and for less than twenty bucks, it’s easy to try out without breaking the bank. By simply cranking the handle for a minute, this basic tool can turn a chunk of zucchini into noodles. Sure beats using a peeler to individually cut all those strands.
Spiralized zucchini is beloved in both raw and paleo circles. This makes sense since both groups avoid grains and processed foods. Zucchini pasta is gaining momentum and even popping up in more mainstream “healthy” media, including recipes in Martha Stewart’s Whole Living Magazine. It’s not hard to see why.
What is it? The spiralizer, or spiral slicer, is basically a tool with a blade attached to a disk that you mount your vegetable to. You use the handle to spin it around the blade, producing long strings of noodles. Although there are far fancier, more expensive spiralizers, the one I own and have experience with is the $20 Joyce Chen Spiral Slicer. It’s inexpensive, and it delivers exactly what it promises, no frills. You lose some material when you cut off both ends, and you must cut your zucchini into 3 1/2 inch chunks, but I don’t even notice those minor inconveniences anymore. Some of the other bloggers I know (and trust) recommend the Paderno Wold Cuisine Spiral Vegetable Model. I haven’t tried it myself, but when I buy a new one, that will probably be it. If you’re a serious chef, Benriner is a reputable brand, but one will run you $40 to $80+.
The spiralizer is most commonly used on zucchini, but I’ve used mine a lot on raw beets to add texture to salads. It can also be applied to carrots, cucumbers, sweet potato, and really anything that you can cut into large enough chunks. I keep meaning to experiment on raw butternut squash and other root veggies like rutabaga or daikon radish.
What else is so great about zucchini pasta, you ask?
Low calorie, nutrient-dense. Three medium zucchinis (my usual serving size for one) have 100 calories, 2 grams of fat, and 7 grams protein. Based on a daily calorie target of 1850 in Cronometer, three zucchini also provide 23% of Nutritional targets for the day: 33% Omega 3, 140% Vitamin C, 74% B6, 50% B2, 58% Manganese, and over 20% for Zinc, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Copper, Vitamin K, Folate, B5 (Pantothenic Acid), and B1. Plus 12% for Iron.
Contrast this with 1 cup cooked whole wheat spaghetti which is 175 calories, 1 gram fat, and 7 grams protein. The Cronometer profile for that pasta is far less colorful, and, other than Manganese and Selenium, vitamin and mineral content is far lower than zucchini. At the same time, 3 zucchinis make about 5 cups spiralized, a much greater volume than one would normally consume of regular cooked pasta. I like to eat, so that’s a plus in my book.
Whole food. We can all agree that zucchini is a whole food that can easily be eaten straight from the farm (or backyard). When trying to be low calorie, I used to purchase those plastic packages of shirataki noodles from the grocery store. Then I would rinse them, heat them, and slather them with sauce. They got the job done. But they are processed, and I wasn’t getting anything nutrition-wise from them. Even “raw” kelp noodles are inherently processed – have you ever seen kelp in the shape of spaghetti floating around in the ocean?
Quicker than boiling water. In half the time it takes to boil water, throw pasta in, and cook it to al dente, you can spiralize three zucchini. Simply cut the ends off one zucchini then cut it in half. Make sure your cuts are 90 degree angles or it won’t fit in place as well. You should then have 6 pieces roughly 3″ tall with flat bottoms and tops. Next you take one piece and fit it into place on your spiralizer – see the directions that come with your tool. To finish, you simply crank the handle until the whole piece has been turned into noodles in the container below. Then, you repeat the same process with each piece.
Hint: if you’re prepping your zucchinis straight from the fridge, you can soak them in warm water to take off the chill before spiralizing them. You can also add warm sauce to them. If your sauce is over 118 degrees, the meal will no longer be technically raw, but it’s still a heck of a lot healthier than even whole grain pasta.
It’s all about the sauce. Have you ever eaten pasta plain, without even olive oil or salt? If you do, you’ll probably realize that the flavor is in the sauce. So make a delicious sauce, and you won’t even notice the zucchini, except for the fact that you can eat five times more volume.
1. Toss with salsa, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro.
2. Or just add your usual pasta sauce – it can even be hot.
Basic Raw Marinara Recipe:
2 large tomatoes
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (pre-soaked)
3 dates (pitted and pre-soaked)
1/4 cup fresh basil
pinch each onion and garlic powders
Blend all the ingredients (minus soaking water). Pour over zucchini pasta and mix. Optional: add some diced tomatoes for extra texture.
To make my favorite recipe (pictured here), check out Raw Squash Pasta with Chunky Marinara.