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There was this blogger - way back when I lived pretty much only on pasta, cheese and cups of tea - that I loved. She looked like she knew what she was talking about when it came to food.
And then one day, she went on social media and said something like: 'why are people spiralizing vegetables and making pasta out of them? Courgette strips taste NOTHING like pasta.' She basically said it was a load of rubbish.
And I thought: 'Hmmm.'
If you seriously expect spiralized courgettes/zucchini, butternut squash or sweet potato to actually taste like tagliatelle made out of flour and egg yolks, well - it doesn't. But I think it's still kind of exciting. Spiralized veggies open up a whole new, vividly colourful world of flavours and textures that you can mix and match with other ingredients to make loads of healthy pasta-like dishes. Yes, the only 'pasta-like' thing about it is that you can twirl the strands around your fork, but come on. Why not?
It's fun to experiment with flavours and create new dishes, like the Sweet Potato and Sausage 'Pasta' I made for Primal Eye. But I also think it's worth seeing if you can recreate something that resembles something you miss, from the old days.
By the way, I ought to add, I don't avoid pasta because of a trend, or what's on a list. It actually hurts me. Ask my husband if you don't believe me. Nothing like a romantic 10th-anniversary meal at an Italian restaurant to then come home and spend the rest of the evening doubled over in agony while he made me camomile tea and watched Top Gear. Not how I thought the evening would turn out, but hey. I'll stick to the veggies, thanks.
I bagged myself some butternut squash noodles from the supermarket (you can easily spiralize squash yourself) and had the overwhelming urge to make a dish I used to cook myself for lunch at least twice a week: Aglio e Olio.
In other words, pasta (in this case butternut noodles) with garlic and oil. There's chopped parsley in mine, too. And if you eat cheese, then dust a snowy sprinkling of Parmesan or Grana Padano over the top.
Considering this is made from butternut, even I was surprised at how good this was.
Go veggies. All the way.
Butternut Aglio e Olio
250g butternut squash, spiralized
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
pinch of salt
1-2 tbsp finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano cheese (optional, omit for AIP)
Melt the olive oil in a wide, shallow frying pan and add the butternut noodles. Stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until just beginning to soften and turn tender. Grate the garlic clove into the noodles, using a fine grater and sprinkle in the parsley. Add a pinch of salt and continue to cook, stir-frying, until the butternut noodles are tender and fragrant with the garlic and parsley.
Once the noodles are tender but still have some firmness and 'bite', transfer them into serving bowls and sprinkle over the cheese, if using.
- To make this dairy-free, vegan and AIP compliant, just leave out the cheese at the end.
- The noodles won't take long to stir-fry. Cook them too long and they'll turn soggy. Just keep your eye on them and take a bite after 4 minutes to see how well they're cooked. You'll want them with a little bite to them still.
- This would also be lovely with some crispy cooked streaky bacon or pancetta pieces stirred in. Cook the bacon pieces when you first add the oil, adding the squash once the bacon is crisp.
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