While there's nothing wrong with a big bowl of pasta (especially when a craving for comfort food strikes), sometimes it's just a bit too much. Whether trying to cook a lighter dish or prepping food for gluten-free friends, we've got a perfect solution: Make that favorite pasta dish using vegetables as noodles. Spaghetti squash, thin asparagus shoots, shaved zucchini ribbons, shredded cucumbers or carrots, and slices of hearty eggplant all make excellent pasta substitutes. It's not as scary (or as flavorless) as it sounds—cooking with veggie-noodles is easy, tasty, and super healthy. Here are a few recipes to get started.
1. Paleo Lasagna via Eat Drink Paleo
Impress those living the Caveman lifestyle with this hearty, crowd-pleasing "pasta" dish. Meat sauce and plenty of eggplant, mushrooms, and zucchini ensure that nobody goes hungry. It's gluten-free and can be made dairy-free easily if the optional Parmesan and ricotta cheese are jettisoned. Serve alongside a paleo snack if you have a really hungry crowd.
2. Spaghetti Squash Noodle Bowl With Lime Peanut Sauce via The First Mess
This yummy Asian-inspired noodle bowl is both comforting and nutritious. Unlike many all-veggie dishes, this one recipe uses cooked greens, which make the meal much more satisfying. Pro tip: Make a double batch of the lime peanut sauce and use it on everything.
3. Lazy Girls' Zucchini Spaghetti With Peas, Crème Fraîche, and Pesto via Top with Cinnamon
Making noodles out of veggies can seem a bit tricky. What's the best method—a mandoline, a vegetable spiralizer, or some seriously fancy knife skills? This recipe proves that it can be done without any special equipment. All you need is a box grater! After making lovely zucchini ribbons, mix them up with garlic, pesto, peas, and creme fraiche (optional).
4. Meatballs With Roasted Asparagus via Peanut Butter Fingers
Who doesn't love health-ifying classic comfort foods? These lean beef meatballs are loaded with flavor, thanks to tons of spices and whole-wheat breadcrumbs. Plop a few meatballs on top of a bed of oven-roasted asparagus, add marinara sauce, and revel in the healthy yumminess.
5. Chilled Sweet and Sour Cucumber Noodles via Just a Taste
It's time cucumbers got a turn in the spotlight. These fresh, super-healthy veggies get to star on their own in this refreshing recipe. Slice up cucumbers into long ribbons, then dress them with red onion, vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, sesame seeds, and a touch of sugar for a perfect sweet-sour side dish.
Every week, the Greatist Team scours the Web for tasty, trendy, and (mostly) healthy recipes to help open both minds and palates to the wonders of food. Tune in next Wednesday to see what else we have in store!