Though we’d never try to pass off veggie spaghetti as an actual replacement for pasta, we think these strands of zucchini and summer squash are lovely in their own right.
You can thank British nutritionist to the stars, Amelia Freer, for this veggie spaghetti recipe. No, it’s not actually spaghetti. And no, we don’t propose you attempt to pass it off as pseudo spaghetti because, let’s be honest, you’re not going to fool anyone into thinking summer squash is pasta, no matter how lovely and creative the recipe. We prefer to instead consider what this recipe is rather than what it’s not. And it’s a super simple way to sneak some more veggies into your routine if you’re seeking a way to do just that.–Renee Schettler
☞ Table of Contents
LC “Veggie Spaghetti” (And We Use That Term Loosely) Note
Just to repeat ourselves, in case you missed it the first time we mentioned it, this recipe is actually less veggie spaghetti than it is veggie squiggles. So what the heck to do with it? Lotsa things. Make a large batch of these barely cooked noodles and stash ’em in the fridge to use later. They’re handy ingredients in salads, stir-fries, soups, even “spaghetti” (note our use of air quotes, please and thank you) bolognese. Should you need more specific suggestions, we gotcha. Try the below, add your own thoughts, or check out the recommendations from our recipe testers in the notes below.
Brown butter with a squeeze of lemon.
Extra-virgin olive oil, torn basil leaves, grated lemon zest, and maybe some black olives and chopped almonds or hazelnuts.
A simple tomato sauce.
[Your idea here. Just let us know in a comment below.]
- Spiralizer or julienne vegetable peeler
- Summer squash, zucchini, or butternut squash
- Sea salt
- Store-bought or homemade pesto for serving
- Extra-virgin olive oil for serving
- Lemon zest for serving
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.
- Pour the hot water into a large heatproof bowl. Dump the veggie “spaghetti” in the hot water and let it “cook” for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Gently drain the veggie spaghetti, patting it dry with a clean towel if desired to remove all the moisture. If desired, rinse it under cool running water to stop the cooking. Then plop on a spoonful or so of pesto and some olive oil and a little lemon zest to taste and toss. Serve at once.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I liked this recipe a lot. I’ve made veggie spaghetti before but always thought that it got a little mushy. Here, the boiling water is dumped over the cut zucchini and left to soak for 2 minutes. Perfect al dente zucchini spaghetti. And, since I used the serving bowl to “cook” the spaghetti, it was warmed by the hot water. Very cool! I used this spiral cutter. It worked great on zucchini (with the larger cutting side) but it was a bit strenuous with carrots. I served the veggie spaghetti with a plain tomato sauce. Will make this again.
Zoodles. It’s what’s for a healthy dinner these days. I am not a huge fan of “faux foods” that mimic favorites as a trend, but I have to admit, not only do I have a sprializer, but I have had several and even given them as gifts. That means I also have had some I didn’t like much (they are gone). Bulky as the multi-blade one is, it earns a place in the pantry. I have used it for salad and stir-fries, but strangely not as pasta noodles. Zucchini is the easiest thing, and coming in as a close second is cucumbers.
You can use the vegetable noodles with traditional and simple sauces (pesto, garlic-olive oil, Parmesan, even carbonara. I also like to make veggie spaghetti with spicy peanut ginger dressing; cherry tomatoes, scallions, and peppery goat or jack cheese;
mixed 50/50 with actual linguine, grilled vegetables such as summer squash, tomatoes, peas or fava beans, and Parmesan; stir-fried with ginger, garlic, and soy; cooked and then chilled and served like udon with mushrooms and radishes in dashi.
One or two tips: If you have a hand-crank style spiralizer with the removable blades and crank handle (mine is a Paderno), you will note that it has suction feet. If your counter is not a smooth surface (my vintage kitchen has grouted tile), you will be much happier it you set your spiralizer on a rimmed, heavy cookie sheet. Then you can firmly push the suction feet into place and your tool won’t try and walk away from you. The cooke or sheet cake pan also contains your ‘mess’ nicely and captures all the stray spirals and pieces as you crank away. I like this kitchen gadget, and seem to use it in cycles. With firmer veggies, you may have to be a little gentle or persistent. Try and pick tender veggies, especially root vegetables. Even jicama and rutabaga can go thru, if they aren’t rock hard. Sweet potatoes and carrots will seem like they stain your machine, but if you wash it promptly it isn’t a problem and it really doesn’t matter.
I find even the fine spiral blade is never going to approximate angel hair, but you get a nice noodle that will cook quickly, whether you boil it briefly, pout hot water over it as in this recipe, or stir-fry it. If you’re using a mixture of vegetables and traditional grain pasta, you can add the zoodles in for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
If you only need a small amount, I do have an alternative. If you stir-fry, you probably already own a Kinpira julienne tool. It gives you nice, long threads of most any long vegetable, though it won’t give you the curly effect that a spiralizer does. You can find these at Asian markets for under $15. I use it sometimes if I am making a single serving of veggie spaghetti. It’s small and sharp (be careful with any and all of these). I have tried several small “pencil-sharpener” style tools and didn’t keep a single one after the first use. The spiralizer and Kinpira have been great from first use.
If you’re looking for spaghetti that feels like pasta, this recipe would be a disappointment. However, if you’re looking for a way to use up a glut of zucchini, this recipe is perfect. I used a julienne peeler and prepared 3 small or medium zucchini, which took about 8 minutes. Then I put the “noodles” in a metal bowl and poured boiling water over them and let them sit for a little less than 2 minutes, as I didn’t want to rinse them in cool water as the recipe instructed. As the CSA had provided basil as well as zucchini, I tossed the noodles in pesto and lots of grated pecorino cheese. This made a satisfying vegetarian dinner for two along with a salad and a few bites were even left over for lunch (when reheated, they were good). Given that the pesto was already made, it took less than 15 minutes to make this recipe for dinner. Although I didn’t try the zucchini noodles with anything other than pesto, it seems like they could be adaptable to many other noodle dishes, including some Thai stir-fry dishes.
I have been “noodling” vegetables for about 4 months now and absolutely love it, so I was delighted to see this recipe come up for testing. I have made a pesto version similar to this many times, not realizing I could “cook” the noodles. I did as instructed and the brief blanching of the zucchini noodles did change the consistency of them slightly. I’m still not sure if I preferred them uncooked or cooked, so I guess I’ll have to keep trying different versions of this. Either way, they were delicious, light, healthy, and surprisingly filling. We liked the addition of the grated lemon zest and I’ll continue to add that in the future. I found the use of a spiralizer is almost mandatory if you make this type of dish as often as I do, but in the past I have used a vegetable peeler, knife, or mandoline to get tiny strips. I did try the hand-held version that my daughter had and I must admit it’s ok on softer things but gummed up considerably on harder vegetables. I didn’t boil water in a pot to pour into a bowl to cook the noodles as that seemed like an unnecessary step. While I was making the zucchini noodles I turned on the kettle and made the water hot that way. We have noodles like this almost every week, so we must like them. Serving suggestions:
1. I used 1/2 pint halved grape tomatoes, a small diced onion, and a handful of torn basil and sautéed this briefly in a couple tablespoons olive oil while I made the noodles. The noodles were finished in the light tomato sauce and served with a few shavings Romano cheese.
2. Zucchini noodles dressed with a little olive tapenade and served cold.
3. Using the wide noodle blade we made carrot (and, on another night, sweet potato) noodles and added them to the pot of boiling water during the last minute or two of linguine, drained everything, and then tossed it all with a light Alfredo sauce. Still tastes like linguine Alfredo but healthier.
4. Using a mandoline, I made very thin slices of zucchini or eggplant and used that for a veggie lasagna.
5. Making short veggie noodles I have made a pasta salad using yellow squash, shredded onion, diced tomatoes, and cucumber dressed with a buttermilk dressing.
6. Spiralized noodles with feta cheese, diced tomatoes, diced red onion, olive oil, and pitted kalamata olives
7. Spiralized carrot salad with green onions, craisins, and walnuts is a favorite of my granddaughter.
This recipe is a simple and fun method for preparing vegetables in a novel way that children love—in my experience, they like using the tool to prepare the vegetables as much as they like eating the long strands of “noodles.” (I had helpers, and we used the Veggetti tool. ) We used summer squash and zucchini, one small squash per person, which results in an overflowing cupful of “noodles” for each serving. We served the noodles with lots of ingredient choices so each could prepare their dish: lemon zest, olive oil, butter, tomato sauce, and pesto. If you have a decent jarred pesto in your pantry, as well as good simple tomato sauce, you will have this dish put together and ready to serve in about 15 minutes.
I had just bought some spaghetti squash for the first time, so I decided to try this recipe with that rather than butternut squash. After making this recipe, spaghetti squash is now one of my favorite vegetables. Rather than pouring boiling water over it, I pricked the whole squash with a fork all over and then cooked it in the microwave for about 15 minutes. Then I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and then shredded it with a fork into spaghetti-like strands. I think this is a much easier method when using butternut or other types of hard-shell squash. Since it was a very large squash, I divided it and tried it several ways—drizzled with olive oil and finely chopped fresh garlic, salt and pepper; with pesto and squeezed fresh lemon juice; and as a cold salad with diced tomatoes, chopped basil, and garlic salt. We loved all three, but I think my favorite was just olive oil and chopped fresh garlic. It would also be great with butter and garlic.
Originally published July 27, 2015