If you know me, it comes as no surprise that my one true love is Italian food. Pizza, crostini, cured hams, pasta, buffalo mozzarella, marinated artichokes, tiramisu… I could go on all day.
However, Italian food has a bit of a reputation for being a bit ‘carb-heavy’. Usually, I don’t mind – it’s a free country and I’m allowed to enjoy my carbs! However, the past couple of weeks have been slowly but surely creeping towards my best friend’s wedding… and I really want to make sure I fit into that already-purchased bridesmaid’s dress.
As a result, I’ve had to get a little creative when it comes to the spaghetti situation in our house. Usually, it’s all wheat all the time, but because I’m effectively ‘wedding shredding’, I decided to try my hand with a few low-carb substitutes. Here’s how they fared:
Easily my pick of the non-pasta pastas. If you’re looking for the best, look no further and stop reading the rest of the blog. Here in South Africa, we’ve got a high-end grocery store called Woolworths that stocks cauliflower noodles in 250 g portions, where I get mine. Honestly, I have no idea how one would do it if you had to try to make these on your own. However, while they don’t taste exactly like pasta, it is certainly the substitute that comes closest. Also, since it’s white, it kind of looks the same as cooked spaghetti as well – so you can trick your brain into thinking it’s the real deal!
A few years ago, I was much more gung-ho about the ‘Banting’ diet craze. As a result, I bought myself a spiraliser and a ton of zucchini and got ready to go to town. I made a big batch of Bolognese, stretched my wrists, and got to twisting out some pasta.
It didn’t last long.
Unlike cauliflower noodles, spiralised zucchini doesn’t taste like spaghetti, not even remotely. Depending on your spiraliser as well, it probably churns out flattened green strings of the vegetable rather than satisfyingly fat noodles. While it certainly doesn’t have any excess carbs to speak of, it just kind of tastes like warm zucchini and sauce. I think give this one a pass.
This one was pretty cool. I truly enjoy squashes like butternut and pumpkin, so trying spaghetti squash wasn’t a big leap for me. This is a unique variety of squash whose flesh comes out in small, noodle-like strands – getting its name from the proximity to the world-famous pasta type. Again, like cauliflower noodles, this doesn’t exactly taste like spaghetti, but squash is quite delicious in its own right. If you can link pasta and squash in your mind, this makes for quite a tasty substitute!
Ok, this one is a bit of a cheat – this really isn’t what it purports to be. Eggplant, in this dish, isn’t a substitute for lasagne noodles, this is a legitimate dish in Southern Italian cooking called melanzane alla parmigiana. Essentially, it’s an al forno dish with layers of eggplant between layers of napolitana sauce and a generous topping of shredded mozzarella. This meal I actually have zero complaints about – it is an excellent low-carb meal that is surprisingly filling for just eggplant, sauce, and cheese.
What about you? Do you have any substitutes that ‘taste just like the real thing’, like every healthy food website claims?