Thanksgiving has come and gone, and if you did it right, you probably can’t fit into most of your wardrobe this week. The weeks ahead will also be gastronomic feats of strength in which you shall gorge yourself on gingerbread lattes and Christmas cookies and endless pigs-in-a-blanket at office holiday parties. Don’t even lie to yourself that you’ll be good and only stick to the crudités or make pathetic low-calorie versions of everything that will just make you feel empty inside. The holidays are about gluttony, and by golly, there’s nothing you can do to fight that.
Best strategy? Offset the damage. If you know every weekend will be a lost one and that you’ll probably hit the break room for homemade baked goods every day, make every meal you eat outside of that a healthy one. Past healthy, even — we’re talking “Celebrity dropping 70 pounds in a month in an attempt to win an Oscar” type foods. Before you eat, always think, “What would Christian Bale do?”
Know what he probably loves? Zoodles. For those of you who aren’t trying to win an Oscar and have no idea what we’re talking about, here are some fast facts that can help you.
What the hell are zoodles?
They are noodles made from zucchini by using a vegetable spiralizer, then given a stupid nickname because #cutsiegram. God, I hate the internet sometimes.
What’s a vegetable spiralizer?
They’re gizmos that turn your vegetables into long, winding strands of noodles or ribbons or other stuff, depending on how much money you spend on the thing. I mean, I don’t know how many different forms you’d like your zucchini to take. I’m not going to limit you in a world of endless possibility.
Wow! What a brilliant new invention!
Actually, they’ve been using them in Japan for nearly forever, and you’ve likely been familiar with spiralized veggies for longer than you realize. Know that weird white fluff that comes in the bottom of the container when you order sushi? That’s finely spiralized daikon (you should be eating that — it’s good for you). As always, Japan is way ahead of us with all the cool stuff, like candy and Pizza Hut.
So I should buy the expensive one From Japan, then?
No; that’s stupid. Think about how many one-note appliances are stashed somewhere in your house right now. The quesadilla maker. The margarita dispenser. That adorable miniature kitchen that only cooks breakfast sandwiches, which you never use because you already have something that does that (it’s called a stove) and quite honestly, you don’t like breakfast sandwiches so much that you needed to permanently devote counter space to the making of them. Now you’re going to go off and drop a bunch of money on something you’re not sure you’ll use that often?
Here’s what you do: Go buy a $15 handheld one that you can keep in a drawer. It won’t have all the bells and whistles, but it gets the job done. Once you find your groove, and if you’re feeling the magic, then go ahead and invest in the fancy “on demand” option.
So I cook these zoodles, as you call them, like regular pasta?
Yes and no. You don’t boil them because even though they look like pasta, they are not. They’re zoodles. You are now in on their lies.
Zucchini doesn’t have any starch, but what it does have is moisture. Lots of it. And that moisture keeps it crunchy, which isn’t very pasta-like. The solution: Salt the zoodles. Sprinkle generously with Kosher salt, toss well, put in a colander, then walk away for half an hour and let it do its thing. When you return, they’ll have wilted and lost a good amount of their water weight. Then just give them a good rinse, and there ya go — “cooked” zoodles. Now dress them up with sauce, sauté them in a little garlic and oil or do whatever you would have done if they were regular pasta. Which they aren’t. They’re zoodles.
But I don’t like zucchini!
WELL, WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO TELL YOU? THEY’RE ZOODLES.
Can I use other vegetables?
Yes, but you’ll have to change the name. I don’t know much about the zucchini lobby, but I know enough to not cross them.
OK then. What are some other options?
I’m glad you asked! There are just so many possibilities
So I can use all those things in place of pasta?
Well, technically yes, but I don’t know if I’d want to. Zucchini is somewhat flavorless, but things like parsnips and apples aren’t. That’s why you need to stop thinking in “oodles” and unleash your imagination. Make shoestring fries with spiralized potatoes. A tasty slaw that won’t’ slide off a sandwich can be made with carrots or broccoli stems. Toss parsnips in a bit of butter and cinnamon-sugar, make nests and bake ’til golden-brown. Check out some of our favorite recipes or post your ideas in the comments.