Swearing off carbs has never been easier. I mean, it still seems to me like the most cruel punishment one could voluntarily inflict upon themselves, but there are enough ways to approximate the texture of certain dishes like spaghetti that it's not the sad gluten-free bread party it once was. The most helpful kitchen tool in this regard may be the spiralizer, which turns vegetables into slender, slinky strands that can stand in for noodles. Technically, a "zoodle" refers to the zucchini noodle, but we're including others under that banner for this collection of recipes, which puts the mighty spiralizer to work on other veggies, too.
Michelle Stark, Times food editor
French Onion Zoodle Bake
This casserole is reminiscent of the classic French soup, complete with that ooey, gooey cheese effect. To make, prepare 2 ½ cups zucchini noodles using a spiralizer. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, then heat a skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and melt 1 large thinly sliced yellow onion and cook for a few minutes. To the skillet, add 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste, stir, then cook for another minute or so. Add ¼ cup beef broth and cook about 20 minutes, or until onions are golden brown and soft. Remove from heat, then add to a bowl. Add zucchini noodles to the bowl, then stir to coat the noodles with the onion mixture. Place in an 8- by 5-inch baking dish and top with 1 cup grated fontina cheese. (Asiago also works.) Bake for about 20 minutes, or until cheese has melted and is bubbling. Serves 4. Recipe adapted from climbinggriermountain.com.
Kale and Sweet Potato Noodle Salad
This is a simple yet hearty warm salad that you can finish off with the dressing of your choice. This makes a great vegan dish, just make sure to sub the Caesar dressing called for with something dairy-free; hummus thinned out with some water and seasoned with salt and lemon juice works well. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, combine ½ teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon chili powder, ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper and a pinch of salt, then add a 15-ounce can of chickpeas that have been drained, and mix well. Drizzle with ½ tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and mix again. Place chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake about 30 minutes until crisp. Prepare sweet potato noodles using 1 large sweet potato, then heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a splash of olive oil. Add sweet potato noodles, season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste, and cook for about 6 minutes until cooked through. Stir often, then place in a large bowl and wipe the skillet out. Add another splash of olive oil, swirl it around so it coats the pan, then add 3 cups chopped kale. Cook until wilted slightly, then add to sweet potato noodles. Top this with your favorite Caesar dressing and toss well to coat. Add chickpeas to bowl, toss lightly, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 4. Recipe adapted from inspiralized.com.
Bacon Breakfast Bake
Consider spiralizing a couple of zucchini at the beginning of the week and keeping the zoodles, which will last about 2 days, in the fridge. With your prepped noodles, you can put together this breakfast bake in just a few minutes. First, cook 2 slices of bacon in a nonstick skillet until crispy. Set aside when cooked, then return pan back to the heat and crack 2 eggs into the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and cook until set. Top eggs with bacon and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese. Place ½ cup zucchini noodles in a bowl and microwave until warm. Top with cooked eggs and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 1. Recipe adapted from Food Network.
Zoodles With Pesto
This dish utilizes zoodles in their raw form, brightening them with an avocado-based pesto. To make, start by turning 1 yellow squash and 1 carrot into noodles using a spiralizer, and place in a bowl. Next, place 1 ripe avocado, a large handful of kale, a handful of fresh mint, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, the juice from 1 lemon and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Blend until creamy, then add ¾ cup peas and blend again until mixed. Add to bowl of noodles and mix well to coat. Top with a handful of pumpkin seeds and serve. Serves 1. Recipe adapted from eastewart.com.
Zucchini Pad Thai
Pad Thai may be the dish best able to disguise the use of zoodles as opposed to noodles, the thin zucchini soaking up the many flavors. To make, start by turning 2 medium zucchini into noodles. Now, make the pad Thai sauce. In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 3 tablespoons ketchup, 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper and 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce. Set aside. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet on medium-high heat, then add the zucchini noodles and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until they are just tender. Remove from pan and place in a bowl. Wipe the pan out, then add another tablespoon of olive oil and 3 large cloves minced garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds, then add ½ pound peeled and deveined shrimp and cook for about 3 minutes. Add ½ red bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin, and 3 sliced green onions, and cook for about 2 minutes until softened. Add 1 large egg and stir until cooked through. Add zucchini noodles back into the pan, along with the sauce. Cook for about a minute until heated through. Serve with roasted peanuts, cilantro and lime wedges for garnish. Serves 4. Recipe adapted from whiteonricecouple.com.