Recently a reader asked:
“Any tips on pasta substitutes? (I did read your post about how whole grain/whole wheat pasta isn’t really a whole lot better than regular pasta).”
Pasta and noodles can be tricky if you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy. Though some people consider Italian pasta (made from semolina flour) to be a low glycemic index food, in my experience frequent pasta consumption will start the scale moving slowly upward.
I love pasta, but eat it sparingly.
Luckily I have found a noodle substitute that I absolutely adore, and it’s even faster than boiling water.
Although I was shocked at how delicious this turned out, I was even more amazed at how easy it was to prepare. All you need is some summer squash, a vegetable peeler and a bowl (optional). Cook the noodles by quickly sautéing them with a little olive oil and Kosher salt.
You can use any sauce you like. I modified the simple tomato sauce recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.
Summer Squash Pasta & Simple Tomato Sauce
- 2-4 summer squash such as zucchini
- 1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 1 medium fresh tomato
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ~10 leaves fresh basil
- extra virgin olive oil
First run your garlic through a garlic press and place into a small bowl or cup. Add 1 tbsp warm water to the garlic, stir and set aside.
Next drain your tomatoes and reserve the liquid. Dice your fresh tomato into half inch cubes.
Chop your basil. Leaves such as mint and basil are easiest to cut if you chiffonade them by stacking the leaves on top of each other and rolling them lengthwise like a cigarette. From there they are easy to cut into thin strips.
In a pan heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and add the garlic. Cook until fragrant but not brown, about one minute. Add the canned tomatoes and simmer until sauce starts to thicken, about 8 minutes.
While the sauce is simmering, peel squash as shown in the video. Saute the squash ribbons in olive oil on medium heat. Sprinkle with salt and sauté for no more than 2 minutes. Do not allow them to brown or soften. Noodles should be brightly colored and al dente. Remove from pan and set aside.
When sauce starts to thicken, add fresh tomatoes and basil. Add some reserved tomato liquid if it becomes too thick to work with. Cook sauce another 3 minutes or so and salt to taste.
Toss your sauce with squash noodles and serve immediately.
How else do you like to eat squash pasta?
This post and video are pretty old, but this is still one of my all-time favorite recipes. Originally published July 29, 2009.