pasta is yummy.
there’s no getting around it. and why would you even try? it’s filling, homey, comforting, and so versatile it’s ridiculous. you could eat pasta every day for a year and not repeat a recipe (and probably get huge and never want to leave the house, but that’s beside the point).
i usually eat pasta few times a week, either at home or out. this is not exactly intentional – as much as i love it, i should choose healthier alternatives. i prefer fresh pasta, naturally, but we always have boxes of dried pasta around for emergency situations. and sometimes, mac & cheese is really the only thing that will do when it’s 2am and you desperately need something to eat.
(and lately, i’ve had mac & cheese on the brain. i was the food stylist for a boston food blogger’s cookbook last week, dan whalen of the food in my beard, and he’s not shy about using mac & cheese in absolutely debaucherous ways. example:
you see what i’m saying. when presented with deep fried mac & cheese balls – complete with lobster – one must eat. but i digress.)
in my endless pursuit of delicious meals that won’t make me gain 20 pounds, i’ve been intrigued by this veggie pasta trend. not just for spaghetti squash anymore, chefs and home cooks alike are using zucchini, squash, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, and tons of other vegetables to mimic the shape and texture of traditional pasta noodles – but with much more nutritional value, and far less calories. i’m sure you’ve heard of this. of course, not only did i want healthier noodles, i wanted those lovely, thin, fettuccini-like noodles – and to get those, one generally has to use the dreaded mandoline.
i’ll be honest – i’m terrified of mandolines. i don’t even own one. i watch cooking shows religiously and it seems like every time a chef pulls one of these out, it’s only a matter of time before they cut themselves in dramatic, horrifying fashion. it’s always fast, it’s always deep, and it always puts them out of the competition for at least twenty minutes.
my lovely friend nicole brought these noodles up again over dinner the other night, during a lively discussion on reducing meat in our diet, reminding me of my abandoned pasta idea. there had to be a way to cut these lovely little noodles that wouldn’t put my hands in danger.
naturally, the internet provided a number of ideas. the spiralizer. the box grater. the vegetable peeler. the julienne peeler, which i need to get my hands on immediately. and if you’re not irrationally afraid of particular kitchen tools, the mandoline.
like most of my recipes, this one is infinitely adaptable. there are a million ways to make these noodles, and in the same way, there are a million ways to prepare them. play with sauces, add other veggies to the mix, top it off with cheese…or, you could always add meat. but i’m trying to lose weight over here, so i used a few different vegetables, added some regular fresh pasta, and added a light, simple sauce. i ate this with a light lentil salad on the side and was a happy (healthy!) camper.
fresh veggie pasta
3 large carrots
roughly 4 ounces fresh fettucini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter
salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
peel carrots and zucchini, and trim ends. use your favorite method to cut vegetables into pasta noodles – i used a vegetable peeler. peel long strips, turning vegetables around so that all strips are evenly sized. save the cores for a salad or sauce.
in a large pot, boil several cups of water, salted to taste. cook fresh pasta noodles according to package instructions. i like to do half veggie pasta and half regular pasta, but adjust according to your preferences.
heat olive oil in a medium saucepan, then add white wine and butter. when sauce starts to thicken, add carrot and zucchini noodles. saute for a minute. stir until mixed, then add cooked fresh pasta noodles. add parsley, dried red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. cook until sauce is thickened, another minute or two, then remove from heat and put into a serving bowl. top with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.