Searching for a Healthy Dinner Option? Try Making Zoodles and Other Vegetable Noodles
To help you get a nutritious, delicious dinner on the table, we're sharing everything you need to know about vegetable noodles, including how to prepare them, which sauces to pair them with, and how to turn them into memorable meals.
Whether you call them zoodles, voodles, or spiralized vegetables, fiber-filled "noodles" made from fresh vegetables have earned their spot on the table in the past few years, not only as a replacement for pasta but also as a stand-alone ingredient. Beautiful, vibrant voodles lighten up and boost the nutritional value of our meals and are just plain fun to eat. Whether you are new to cooking voodles or just looking for more ways to enjoy this twirlable iteration of vegetables, read on for tips, recipes, and a formula for creating your own fast, irresistible meals.
How to Prepare Voodles
Armed with a spiralizer ($18, amazon.com), you can transform almost any vegetable into noodles. We suggest beginning with the vegetable that started the trend: the zoodle, otherwise known as zucchini noodle. Other delicious options to try? "Noodles" made from cucumbers, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, rutabaga, large carrots, and beets. If you're not up for making your own, you'll find that pre-spiralized vegetable noodles are now available in the produce aisle or frozen food section.
Voodles can be enjoyed cooked or raw. As a general rule of thumb, if you would normally cook or eat the vegetable raw, then the same will work for the voodle version. For example, sweet potato noodles need to be cooked, whereas cucumber are usually preferred raw. Zucchini, as another example, is great either raw or cooked.
Using vegetable noodles, it's easy to bring together a fast and delicious meal—no recipe required. Create a simple and delicious dinner with this easy-to-execute formula: Select cooking technique + toss with sauce + add optional protein or additional vegetables + sprinkle on garnish.
How to Cook Vegetable Noodles
Unlike traditional pasta and noodles, vegetable noodles—like zucchini noodles—don't need to be boiled first. The key to a perfectly cooked vegetable noodle is high heat and fast cooking, just like a stir fry. This cooking style retains the al dente texture, bright color, and prevents the vegetable from breaking up or becoming soggy. Cook your vegetable noodles in a skillet over medium-high heat with a little oil or toss on a sheet tray and bake briefly at 425°. The cooking time can be as little as one to two minutes, so be sure to keep a close eye on them; as soon as they soften but still have a little bite, they are done. Try the skillet technique for Italian-inspired preparations, like this Zucchini Pasta Primavera and Shrimp Scampi with Yellow Squash Noodles or swap into a stir fry or warm noodle dish.
Voodles are also delicious in soups. Stir them right into the hot broth and let the broth cook them. Again, they usually just need a minute or two. Wait to add the voodles until right before serving so they don't overcook. Try a spin on classic soups like this Chicken Voodle Soup or stir into a delicious green coconut curry broth. Pro tip: Warm sauces and cook other added in ingredients before mixing with the cooked voodles, which will help ensure the delicate noodles don't overcook.
Skip the Heat
For a crisper, fresher preparation, skip the heat and preparing the voodles raw. Treat them just like a vegetable salad or slaw by tossing them with a vinaigrette, sauce, or dressing and seasoning with salt and pepper. Two delicious recipes to try are this Summer Squash Slaw and these Spicy Sesame Carrot Noodles. A bowl of cold zucchini pasta is also very refreshing on a warm summer day. For heartier vegetable noodles, we suggest marinating them in a bit of dressing or vinaigrette to tenderize and soak up the good flavor. Vegetables with high water content like cucumber and zucchini are better tossed right before serving.
And remember that a voodle dish doesn't have to be just one vegetable. Try a beautiful raw salad with a colorful combination of a few different vegetables, like cucumber, carrot, and beet.
A Note on Sauces and Toppings
Especially because voodles are made from fiber and vitamin-filled vegetables, it's okay to really indulge in rich, delicious sauces. Smother them in sauces like our tahini, pesto, marinara, coconut curry, or sesame soy dressing. Choose toppings that add a burst of flavor, crunch, new texture, or a combination of these attributes. Here are a few to start: freshly chopped herbs, shredded Parmesan, crispy breadcrumbs, fried shallots, toasted seeds or chopped nuts, a dollop of chile oil.