Noodles make whipping up a quick meal easy and tasty—they require virtually no Iron Chef America skills since it’s just boil water, cook pasta, drain, and add sauce. And they can adapt to any cuisine by simply changing the toppings. But sometimes you want to give your body a break from all of that wheat or you’re looking for a lower-carb option—or simply a new option.
Of course there are zoodles, those fantastic zucchini noodles. But the summer squash isn’t the only produce you should put through a spiralizer. We found 34 recipes using all kinds of vegetables, beans, and even fruit that are made into spaghetti, fettucine, ravioli, and more. Then they’re topped (or stuffed) with delicious sauces and extras. Whether hot, cold, crunchy, or creamy, you’ll never think of pasta the same way again.
Pad Thai noodles are a takeout favorite, but they’re usually loaded with oil and preservatives. Why not whip up a version that’s both healthier and easier? Crisp cucumber noodles create a perfect bed for a drizzle of peanut sauce that’s as beautiful as it is delicious.
Raw cucumbers are great for snacking, but they’re downright amazing when garnished with a sweet and sour dressing. With just six ingredients and a recipe that’s as simple as cutting the cucumber and adding the rest of the ingredients, the only hard things is finding the patience to let it marinate for two hours so the flavors really set in. (Did someone say Netflix time?)
Sometimes it’s nice to have a touch of decadence without going over the top, and this coconut dressing fits the bill perfectly. Spiked with ginger and cumin, it’s sure to wake up anyone’s taste buds and it only takes a few minutes. Slice up the cucumber, toss the dressing ingredients into the blender for a quick whirl, and then shower the whole thing with some black sesame seeds and scallions for a final flourish.
Why do peanuts get all the attention? Cashews are just as delicious and packed with healthy fats that boost levels of good cholesterol. Here they shine in a spicy dressing that wakes up a salad of cucumber and avocado. Who knew salad could be taste so indulgent?
Pasta salad is a delicious potluck and picnic staple, but all that mayo tends to cover up the bright flavors. This recipe replaces the usual noodles with cucumber strands tossed in a zesty, homemade Italian vinaigrette. It’s a crisp, flavorful way to really enjoy your veggies and get a taste of summer even in the can’t-feel-your-nose cold of winter.
A rich, savory broth is perfect for noodles because they soak up all of that good flavor, but traditional noodles don’t bring much of their own taste to the party. Swapping in ribbons of sweet potato still offers a satisfying slurp, but adds even more complex flavor that pairs wonderfully with the beef and mushrooms. Don’t be turned off by all the spices—it’s worth it for authentic pho broth.
Sometimes chefs stress the importance of presentation by saying we eat with our eyes first. Any culinary guru would be delighted by this gorgeous plate of orange and green. This recipe subs kale for basil in the pesto for a rich, woodsy puree that’s so good, it doesn’t even need cheese. But that doesn’t mean you can’t sprinkle some Parm on top of your dinner.
With a hefty dose of fiber and vitamin A, sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse. They play double duty here as both the noodles and a crucial ingredient in the creamy sauce (along with almond milk and red peppers). Think of it as the new, orange-hued Alfredo.
For a real punch of flavor, nothing beats a comforting curry. Packed full of chiles, Thai green curry powder may help ward off nasty colds. It also happens to be super tasty. A pop of sweet peas and crunch from cashews make this an entree you’ll make again and again.
Flecks of Swiss chard and strands of tender sweet potato team up for a dose of vitamins A and C to promote good vision, grow and repair tissues, and fend off free radicals. A dollop of creamy cheese adds just enough indulgence to liven up all of that veggie goodness. A spiralizer is a great tool for making the noodles, but if you don’t have one, slice the sweet potato into thin planks and then cut into strips.
Sometimes the simplest recipe is the tastiest recipe. Sweet potatoes with a bit of butter, cinnamon, sage, and sea salt combine for a dish that tastes like it came out of a high-end Italian restaurant. It’s ideal for weeknights since it takes 20 minutes.
Other Root Vegetables
The parsnip is like the carrot’s little sister. She’s not as popular and sometimes gets pushed aside, but once she gets a spot on your plate, you’ll see how delicious she is. And with almost twice as much fiber and almost three times as much vitamin C per gram as carrots, parsnips pack nutrition too. Turn them into spaghetti and top with this tangy, salty tomato sauce.
Nearly every restaurant has a salad with roasted beets, candied nuts, and either blue or goat cheese. They’re delicious, but they’re also a little boring. This recipe takes beets to a whole new level with Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, and a little bit of bacon. It’s sweet, savory, completely different—and appropriate for Paleos. Omit the bacon for vegans.
Sweet carrot strands are the perfect canvas for tons of different toppings, but they pair particularly well with this gingery peanut sauce. The best part about this recipe? It’s super easy to customize with whatever leftovers are sitting in the fridge. A little bit of chicken, shrimp, or tofu makes this a satisfying Asian meal.
Sometimes the thought of bringing a huge pot of water to a boil for pasta is just too much. Why not throw some beet noodles in the oven for quick bake instead? The root vegetable containsanti-inflammatory betalains—they give beets their ruby hue and may protect again cancer. Plus the naturally sweet flavor goes wonderfully with chicken sausage, kale, and a little salty goat cheese.
The typical restaurant or takeout lo mein can have half a day’s worth of calories or more, mainly thanks to the mountain of noodles coated extra-generously in oil. So stay in and make your own with parsnip noodles, plump shrimp, and vegetables for a Chinese dinner that won’t leave you with a painful food baby.
Rutabaga might be a funny sounding word, but this is one serious veggie that makes some tasty noodles. It’s a cross between a cabbage and a turnip that does the body good with high levels of iron and potassium. And its subtle flavor goes great with the creamy sauce made from ricotta, milk, and Parmesan that comes together in a flash in a blender. It might just become your go-to comfort-food pasta.
Premade Alternatives to Buy*
This beauty of a dish is ready in 25 minutes and it’s vegan and gluten-free. But how does it taste? With soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, mung bean noodles (usually found with other Asian speciality goods), carrots, red pepper, onion, and Chinese broccoli, we’d say quite delish!
Yes, that’s right: Pasta made from seaweed (plus sodium alginate—a salt—and water). These strands are a bit crunchy and soak up just about any sauce. Get an entire primer on kelp noodles here, then try this easy-peasy recipe. The tangy, tahini-based dressing has a touch of smoked paprika, which adds to the Southwest flare of the noodles, broccoli, corn, and black beans.
While popping edamame out of the pod is a delicious snack, there are so many other things to do with it. This pasta uses noodles made from the fresh soybeans that pack some serious health benefits—loads of iron and all nine essential amino acids. But we really love the creamy, herb-loaded, spinach-avocado sauce.
Just because you’re not having traditional pasta doesn’t mean you can’t have traditional meat sauce. Rather than start with jarred tomato sauce (which can be loaded with sugars and salt), make this spicy rustic version, then add the beef and mushrooms. The shirataki noodles here are made from a type of yam and offer up some fiber. Look for them near the tofu in your supermarket.
Usually noodle soups take hours on the stove to develop a deep flavor, but this one manages to get there in just minutes. Simmer a mixture of garlic, lemongrass, sesame paste, and fish sauce, then add in mung bean noodles, bok choy, tomato, and scallions to round out the dish.
Low in calories, gluten-free, and appropriate for Paleos and vegans, kelp noodles are also a good source of calcium and high in iodine, an essential mineral that plays a role in thyroid function. Saute some onion, mushroom, beef, packaged broccoli slaw, and spinach, then add the keep noodles for a healthier take on this classic takeout fave.
Butternut squash makes a starring appearance in this elegant pasta that’s filled with protein to help fuel muscles and vitamin A to promote good eyesight. A trip to the oven lets the sugars in the squash caramelize before a final toss with black bean noodles, Parmesan, and walnuts. No walnuts? Save the seeds from the squash and roast them instead.
When a craving for stir-fry hits, takeout becomes pretty appealing. The MSG and preservatives? Definitely less appealing. Fortunately this sesame- and soy-kissed chicken couldn’t be easier to make at home. Using shirataki noodles instead of wheat-based ones ensures a gluten-free meal.
*If your store doesn’t carry these noodles, you can buy them online.
Is this a lot of ingredients? Yes. Is a lot of work? No. Is it delicious? Isn’t that obvious?! Both the cheese and pesto are made by simply blending the ingredients in a food processor or blender. With that done, all that’s left is to layer everything into lasagna or roll them up. We recommend making more of the pesto—it’s a rare and addictive flavor combo.
Make this the next time you are having a guest over that you want to impress. Striped beets are sliced super, duper thin to make “ravioli” filled with a fresh and tangy herbed goat cheese. It’s really not that hard to make, and any color beet will do. The striped just make it even more appealing.
Not all veggie noodle lasagnas are raw. Here eggplant (a source of phenolic acids—natural compounds that protect against oxidative stress and the resulting damage to cells) is layered with an easy homemade tomato sauce (feel free to add lean ground beef or turkey) and a mix of three cheeses—which means you get the traditional rich, gooey, stringy goodness you expect from the Italian favorite.
This 100-percent raw (read: dairy-free) recipe sounds and tastes like something you’d see on a menu, but it’s not hard to make at home. Rather than using a nut cheese filling, this dish features a creamy green stuffing made from peas, avocado, and fresh herbs. Drizzled with flavored oil, it’s a healthy dinner that makes it seem like spring any time of year.
Make this for your friend who doesn’t think vegetable noodles can be meaty and filling. Butternut squash gets pancaked between a beef sauce and “cheese” made from ghee, almond milk, eggs, starch, and seasonings. We know: Really? That’s cheese? But it tastes just like the real deal when it bakes up.
Baking an apple pie is kind of a time commitment, and rolling out the dough can be finicky. This recipe hits the same flavors, but in a fraction of the time. Apple noodles get a quick simmer in a bit of butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Topping with ice cream is completely optional—but likely for us.
32. Fruit Noodles
Ribbons of papaya, mango, and cucumber weave together for a sweet yet spicy salad that’s dressed in a lime sauce with a kick of cayenne. The avocado on top brings those satisfying fats. Pack it for lunch at work, and your coworkers munching on turkey sandwiches will envy your rainbow of a meal.
Perfectly fruity, crunchy, nutty, sweet, and salty, this dessert is a tasty way to get some fiber (thank you, pears and figs) and omega-3 fatty acids (hat tip, walnuts). But really, who would have though to spiralize pears?!
Some days it seems like all the fruit at the supermarket isn’t ripe enough. While it can be frustrating, it’s also the perfect opportunity to make a Thai salad. The crunchy green papaya is a far cry from the texture of al dente pasta, but sprinked with fish and soy sauce, it’s just as delicious.