7 Delicious Options for Paleo Noodles

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Fork with zoodles

Sure, you could eat your meatballs plain if you really wanted to, but if you want Paleo noodles, you’ve got options! From linguini to lasagna, here’s a run-down of 7 reasonably easy options for Paleo-friendly noodles.

For many of these options, it really helps to have a spiralizer or a julienne peeler – or both. These gadgets help you create perfectly-shaped, even noodles out of all kinds of vegetables without having to spend all day in the kitchen. A julienne peeler is a little cheaper ($5-10 each), but it’ll require more elbow grease on your part, and if you find yourself reaching for the Paleo pasta every other night, a real spiralizer can be a great investment.

On the other hand, if you have no equipment, all is not lost. You can cut your noodles by hand, or just go for the options that don’t require it (these are marked in the list).

Zoodles

Raw or cooked? Either
Tools required: spiralizer or julienne peeler.
Pasta shapes: noodles (spaghetti-style) and ribbons (fettuccine-style)

They sound like something out of a Nickelodeon cartoon, but zoodles are zucchini noodles: they’re what you get when you take a spiralizer or a julienne peeler to a pile of zucchini.

Zoodles can be eaten raw, or gently warmed to go with a warm topping (like meatballs). They have a very mild, slightly sweet flavor that goes well with anything you’d otherwise put on top of pasta.

Recipes and cooking tips:

  • If your zoodles are watery, try pressing them gently between two paper towels, or into the bottom of a colander; this will help them release the extra water.
  • If you’re going to cook them, make it gentle. Don’t boil the life out of your zoodles; they’ll just fall apart. A very quick blanch or stir-fry is all they need.
  • Here’s a recipe for kale pesto with zoodles.

Spaghetti squash

Raw or cooked? Cooked
Tools required: none.
Pasta shapes: noodles (spaghetti-style)

The classic gluten-free, low-carb “noodle” is the spaghetti squash. You’d never know from the outside, but the flesh of this particular squash breaks apart easily into long, thin threads once it’s been cooked.Spaghetti squash pasta

Almost any grocery store will carry spaghetti squash. A good spaghetti squash is pale yellow, oval-shaped, and somewhere between the size of a grapefruit and a football. To make a basic “pasta,” all you have to do is poke a few holes in the flesh of the squash, and stick the entire squash in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes (depending on size). It’s done when the outer skin is soft to the touch. Then cut it open, discard the seeds, and scrape out the strands of flesh with a fork.

Recipes and cooking tips:

  • For an al dente texture, undercook the squash slightly; if you like your pasta very soft, overcook it a little.
  • Before serving, it helps to leave your spaghetti squash in a colander and gently press it with a towel or paper towel; this gets rid of extra moisture and prevents a puddle in the bottom of your bowl.
  • Here’s a recipe for Paleo spaghetti to get you started.

Sweet potatoes

Raw or cooked? Cooked
Tools required: varies
Pasta shapes: noodles (spaghetti-style), ribbons (fettuccine-style), or sheets (lasagna-style)

If you get a big enough sweet potato, you can cut it into pretty much any shape you want, and the resulting noodles will be sturdy enough to hold up under a lot of heavy cooking. Take advantage of the versatility: try spiralizing them into tiny noodles, or slicing them into wider sheets to make dishes like lasagna. Or if you’re missing mac’n’cheese, why not cut sweet potatoes into chunkier, macaroni-like segments?

Recipes and cooking tips:

  • Here’s a recipe for sweet potato noodles with bacon and pecans.
  • Slicing up sweet potatoes into noodles isn’t the same thing as buying “sweet potato noodles” from an Asian market, but if you’ve got a package of those, here’s a recipe to play with

Other hardy vegetables

Raw or cooked? depends
Tools required: depends
Pasta shapes: noodles (spaghetti-style), ribbons (fettuccine-style), or sheets (lasagna-style)

Sweet potatoes aren’t the only root vegetables that make a mean noodle. You can go crazy with turnips, parsnips, carrots, squashes of all kinds…even try out apples or other fruits if you’re making something sweet. Here are a few recipes to get you excited:

Cucumbers

Raw or cooked? raw
Tools required: spiralizer/julienne peeler
Pasta shapes: noodles (spaghetti-style) or ribbons (fettuccine-style)

For those dishes where you want a cool, crunchy noodle instead of something pasta-like, cucumbers definitely deliver. They’re ideal for salads, especially anything with an Asian flavor.

Recipes and cooking tips:

  • Cucumber noodles are fairly delicate; sometimes it helps to seed the cucumber first.
  • Here’s a recipe to start you off: cucumber noodles with salmon.

Kelp

Raw or cooked? either
Tools required: none
Pasta shapes: noodles (spaghetti-style)

Before you skip this one: kelp noodles do not taste like seaweed! In fact, they don’t really taste like much of anything. They’ll very conveniently take on the flavor of whatever you cook them with.

With that said, the texture of kelp noodles does tend to go better with Asian-inspired dishes: they’re not great with a huge pile of tomato sauce and meatballs.

Recipes and cooking tips:

  • Most kelp noodles come packaged in salty water to preserve them. Rinse this off when you take them out of the bag, and then just add salt to your own taste later.
  • Here’s a recipe for Asian noodle salad to get you started.

Eggplant

Raw or cooked? cooked
Tools required: depends
Pasta shapes: sheets (lasagna-style)

Spaghetti squash will do you for the long, thin noodles – but what about the flatter, sheet-style noodles that you’d use to make lasagna? Eggplant to the rescue! Slice it from top to bottom into long, thin sheets, and eggplant is perfect for layering, wrapping, or any other noodle-centric job you can think of.

Cooking tips:

  • Before cooking with them, lay out your eggplant slices on a paper towel or clean dishtowel, and sprinkle them with salt. Let them sit for 10-15 minutes; then brush off the salt and go on with your recipe. This helps draw out some of the moisture, so you won’t end up with a puddle in the bottom of your finished meal.
  • Here’s a recipe for eggplant cannelloni; here’s one for eggplant lasagna

…And Yours!

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