Dinner Diva: Sneaky ways to have pasta

the-dinner-divaPasta is one of those comfort foods that everyone loves and yet, if you’re at all like me, that pasta doesn’t love you back. For me, giving up pasta was heartbreaking, until I figured out there’s still ways to enjoy great pasta dishes—just ditch the pasta and try these fabulous alternatives:

Spaghetti squash. If you have not had the pleasure of enjoying a plate of spaghetti squash noodles, you don’t know what you’re missing! You need no special equipment to make noodles from a spaghetti squash. You just slice the sucker down the middle, remove the seeds, brush with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then bake cut side up for 35 or 40 minutes. When the squash is ready, you’ll notice the flesh has turned into tender yellow noodles that you can easily fork out of the squash skin.

Zucchini. If you have a vegetable spiralizer, you can turn almost any vegetable into a plateful of beautiful green and white noodles. Zucchini works great in one of these contraptions, but you can also use a plain old veggie peeler to do the exact same thing (the noodles will just be broad rather than thin). You really don’t need to cook these noodles much at all. Just a few seconds in a pot of boiling water or a couple turns around a hot buttered frying pan will do. You can even eat them raw.

Yellow squash. You treat yellow squash exactly the same as zucchini when it comes to noodling (they are both varieties of summer squash). They even taste the same. The only real difference is in the color of the peeling. Use both to create a truly eye-pleasing dish!

Cucumber. Again, noodling a cucumber is pretty much the same as a summer squash, but you don’t cook them. This is your best option for a refreshing cold pasta salad recipe.

Rutabaga. This is a pretty difficult vegetable to get noodles out of unless you have a spiralizer. But when you do turn your rutabaga into noodles, you get a nice sweet “noodle” that cooks relatively quickly in a hot pan with butter. Cook until fork-tender and serve with your favorite pasta sauce.

Sweet potato. Exactly the same as the rutabaga noodle, sweet potato noodles when cooked *just* until tender, make a wonderful starchy noodle. If you roast spiralized sweet potato or rutabaga noodles, by the way, you get curly fries!

Cabbage. Cabbage doesn’t really “noodle” as the other vegetables we’ve been talking about do, but it can be cut into thin ribbons, sauteed in butter, salt and pepper, and eaten like noodles under a nice, meaty sauce.

Who knew you didn’t have to give up your favorite pasta dishes after all?

More from dinner diva leanne ely at SavingDinner.com.

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