Originally published in The Journal on June 14, 2017.
By Mackenzie Peterson, Meet Your Vegetables Intern
Summer is the perfect time to take a fresh spin on some comfort food favorites. Pasta can be one of those comfort foods that you just do not want to give up, but what if you didn’t have to?
Veggie noodles have been an emerging food trend for the past few years, and they are a fun and healthy way to get extra vegetables in your (and even your kids’) daily diet. Zucchini, carrots, cucumber, and even butternut squash are the most common vegetables to use as veggie noodles, because they make a firm noodle shape with a spiralizer. A spiralizer is a simple, handheld kitchen utensil that will cut vegetables into a long noodle shape. Once you have your veggie cut into noodles, you have the choice to cook or keep the veggie noodles raw depending on your preference. To cook veggie noodles, sauté them in a pan on medium heat for 5-15 minutes for desired tenderness.
Each vegetable brings it own unique benefits to a meal when used as a substitute for noodles. Carrots are a good source of vitamin A and beta-carotene, which promotes eye, immune and skin health. If you choose zucchini, it is rich in fiber and water, making you feel fuller faster. Plus, zucchini helps lower homocysteine levels, lowering the risk of blood clotting and heart disease. Squash is a great source of B vitamins and also has omega-3 and omega-6, which helps prevent inflammation in the body. Finally, cucumbers have anti-flammatory properties that promote brain health along with having vitamin A and beta-carotene.
Making veggie noodles is easy, especially with local and organic carrots, zucchini and cucumbers in season at the Mill City Farmers Market. The recipe below is from the Mill City Farmers Market’s free weekly cooking demo, Mill City Cooks, which takes place every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Find the vegetables, herbs, farmstead cheeses and other ingredients you need to make this recipe Saturday or Tuesday Night market!
Veggie Noodles Pasta Salad with “Shake the Bottle” Vinaigrette
- 2-4 zucchinis, spiralized
- 2-4 carrots, spiralized
- 2 cups chopped market greens, chopped (baby kale, spinach, etc.)
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, torn
- Fresh goat cheese curds from Singing Hills, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon honey from Ames Farm
- 1 clove minced fresh garlic (optional)
- 1/3 cup vinegar, we love balsamic, but apple cider, or red wine vinegar works too!
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons minced herbs (basil and thyme is nice)
- 1/2 cup good extra virgin olive oil
Combine veggie noodles, chopped greens, basil and cheese in a large bowl. Set aside. Place all the vinaigrette ingredients in a jar, and shake until well combined. Pour desired amount on vinaigrette (or about 2/3 cup) over veggie noodle mixture. I also like to add a minced fresh tomato, extra herbs, and green onions as well. Pasta salad will last in the fridge for 2 days.