Despite the ban on single purpose kitchen tools, I am spiraling out of control. Well, control wasn’t much fun anyway. Spiralizing is. Recent years have produced new devices able to turn everything from zucchini and carrots to celeriac and cucumbers into noodle-like strands offering toothsome opportunities for pastas, slaws and stir-fries with far fewer calories and carbs. Overnight the crop of new publications capitalizing on the possibilities has grown up, offering fresh, healthy and fast meals. Meals that are perfect for summer evenings when “cooking” with heat is less than appealing.
Many spiral recipes do no more than substitute long strands of vegetables for spaghetti using the well known and loved sauces, cooked or otherwise. Pestos are a natural for these vegetable strings. But the range is nearly as infinite as pasta itself. One element of consideration is that of a hot cooked sauce. Hot sauces will cook the vegetable strands and make them less firm, which, depending on the vegetable, can be just fine. Room temperature sauces work best if you want that al dente element.
Another good use of spiralizing is to reduce the cooking time of the vegetable. For example, wide flat spirals of beets can be roasted in a flash or used raw and readily in salads. Shoestring potatoes take on another life baked to a crisp without adding oil.
Choosing which of the many spiralizers to give cupboard space to can be tricky. There are quite small devices that are inexpensive and allow you to determine how much you like the result. However, the handheld cylindrical devices don’t maximize the amount of usable vegetable cut, nor are they stable in the hand. Some leave the core of the vegetable uncut and wasted. There are larger spiralizers designed for the counter top. Many are stable and easy to use, though not always easy to wash. I consider countertop space prime real estate, so I was looking for something compact, easily stored behind doors, that produced long strands of vegetables efficiently. So far, my favorite is one that comes with a detachable catch container, holds the vegetable firmly, requires little pressure and takes up little space.
In many parts of Asia, especially in Japan and China, slurping your noodles loudly is a polite way to acknowledge the successful efforts of your cook or host. Not to slurp at all is considered actively impolite. Now you can slurp your veggies. Oh, can you just imagine a dinner table with 8 to 10 year old boys? Never mind. Today’s recipe is Sesame Cucumber Noodles. Dinner in 20 minutes is my kind of advanced technology.