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The holiday shopping season has passed and many of you likely received a new kitchen gadget or small appliance as a gift or maybe even bought one for yourself. Over the month of January, TASTE will bring you tips, tricks, and recipes for some of the most popular gadgets purchased this holiday season. Topping the list are spiralizers, electric pressure cookers, air fryers, sous vide machines and stand mixer attachments.

A Japanese invention, spiralizers come in many styles from hand cranks to electronic versions and even stand mixer attachments. No matter your budget, there is a spiralizer that will fit into it. Over the last few years, spiralizers have risen to one of the most popular “must-have” cooking tools, especially for those seeking a healthier diet.

Spiralizer blades and their uses

Spiralizers generally come with three to six blades that let you cut vegetables and fruits into noodles and ribbons of various sizes. A straight or flat blade creates long ribbons. It can also be used to create round and crescent shapes by simply making one or two (on opposite sides) lengthwise cuts into the vegetable without going through the center. If your machine comes with a chipper blade, you can create thick noodle-style cuts similar to fettuccine. A julienne blade is the most common and makes long thin cuts like spaghetti. A fine shredder blade makes long stands of thin noodles similar to angel hair pasta. Some spiralizers may include blades to help peel and core fruit.

Zoodles are an easy replacement for spaghetti

“Zoodles” or spiralized zucchini became popular a few years ago as a substitute for spaghetti. Zoodles are a great way to add more vegetables into your diet while reducing the amount of pasta you eat. Other vegetables that can easily replace part or all pasta are sweet potatoes, beets, summer squash, carrots, broccoli stems, and butternut squash. If you are a pasts lover, have no fear, you can simply add spiralized vegetables to your pasta for a punch of flavor and all of the nutritious goodness it offers.

Spiralizing vegetables

Most vegetables should go through the same preparation prior to being placed in a spiralizer. Simply cut each end off of the vegetable as straight as possible to create a flat surface. Vegetables that you would normally peel like carrots and potatoes can be peeled, but it is not necessary. The skin of a vegetable often contains the most nutrients and once the vegetable is spiralized and cooked, you may not even notice the skin is still attached.

Wider vegetables are easier to spiralize. When working with carrots or parsnips, use the wider ones. Thinner vegetables will bounce out of alignment easier, so you may need to stop and start frequently during the spiralizing process.

Once your vegetable is prepared, simply attach it to your spiralizer according to the instructions and crank away — or turn it on and watch it go.

Spiralizers can rice and shred, too!

You can use your spiralizer to shred vegetables like cabbage, bell peppers, and onions. Simply cut the bottom off and remove any core prior to attaching to your spiralizer. Because of the many layers in some vegetables, you will not get long beautiful noodles, but it makes cooking a breeze and still gives you attractive vegetable cuts for salads or sandwich toppers.

Ricing vegetables like cauliflower, squash, jicama, radish, and beets are easy. Use the standard julienne blade for thicker grain substitutes and the fine shredder for thinner. First, spiralize then pulse the vegetable in a food processor until the desired consistency. Cook on the stove top in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes or until the riced vegetable is fork tender.

Cooking spiralized vegetables

Spiralized vegetables and fruit can be eaten raw or cooked. Cooking times will vary based on the food and the thickness of the cut used. The best method is sautéing in a skillet with olive oil for a few minutes. Steaming and roasting are also good methods and neither will take very long. A good rule of thumb is 4 to 7 minutes of cooking time and up to 10 minutes if roasting thicker vegetables. Very thin noodles are best in salads as cooking them will often turn them to mush.

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Niki Davis can be reached at rootedinfoods@gmail.com

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