Foodfilter: vegetable substitutes for pasta?
August 21, 2007 6:15 PM   Subscribe

Foodfilter: vegetable substitutes for pasta?

As a low carber, I avoid flour and dough-based dishes most of the time, but I still think pasta sauces are great. Are there any vegetables/beans that would be for pouring pasta sauce on?
posted by gregb1007 to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Spaghetti squash! (a childhood favorite of mine)
posted by Brittanie at 6:18 PM on August 21, 2007

You could possibly use them in a vegetable bake. Sub sauce where practicable for chopped tomatoes?

I had a swiss-chard and cottage cheese bake recipe that's probably low-carb enough. It basically was 'wrap cottage cheese in lightly cooked swiss chard, bake in a casserole at 350 under tomato, chopped or sauce.' It would have been fine but for blandness: a very flavorful sauce might have helped.
posted by cobaltnine at 6:23 PM on August 21, 2007

Mmmm...zucchini and other types of squash are my favorites. There are so many different kinds and most are very nutritious and have only "good carbs." I sometimes do a bed of zucchini, with a poached egg on top, and then ladle some pasta sauce on that.
posted by melissam at 6:24 PM on August 21, 2007

My first comment: step away from the spaghetti squash. Yes, it looks like spaghetti, but it is weird and crunchy if you're expecting a pasta-like texture.

To my taste, zucchini, broccoli, eggplant, green beans, and mushrooms pair well with tomato-based sauces. With dry beans, I tend to go more for Mexican-style spicing, but there's no reason you can't use Italian-style pasta sauce on them. I would use white beans - navy, Great Northern, or Cannellini.
posted by Daily Alice at 6:24 PM on August 21, 2007

My wife made this recently, and it was incredible.
posted by altcountryman at 6:28 PM on August 21, 2007

I'm with Brittanie - spaghetti squash is pretty farking good. You just slice it in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and then steam it and then scrape out the strands and put a good marinara on them. Make sure it's thoroughly steamed according to the label - I've never had "crunchy" spaghetti squash. It's orgasmic!

You can also make a great pasta mimic from zucchini. If you have a Saladacco or a Spirooli, you anchor the zucchini on the end and crank it through and it's pared down and spiralized into long, thin spaghetti-like strands. You can steam it, boil it, or eat it as is with sauce on it. You can use any elongated squash instead of zucchini, too. The saladacco makes really thin strands like angel hair while the spirooli makes slightly thicker strands like spaghetti. I have and recommend the spirooli - it's great.

If you like the taste of bitter greens, steamed broccoli rabe with Italian-type sauces on it is HEAVEN.
posted by iconomy at 6:31 PM on August 21, 2007

step away from the spaghetti squash. Yes, it looks like spaghetti, but it is weird and crunchy if you're expecting a pasta-like texture.

Well, it's *not* spaghetti, but if it's cooked long enough it shouldn't be crunchy at all.
posted by Brittanie at 6:32 PM on August 21, 2007

Also, one of my favorite types of pasta sauce is filled with big chunks of carrots, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, onions, olives, etc. If it's chunky enough I can easily eat it without the pasta.
posted by Brittanie at 6:37 PM on August 21, 2007

Eggplant parmesan - leave out the bread crumbs
posted by junesix at 6:40 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Don't forget eggplant. You could try making Eggplant Parmesan without the bread crumbs on the eggplant slices.
posted by onhazier at 6:43 PM on August 21, 2007

Oops. Should have previewed but was distracted.
posted by onhazier at 6:44 PM on August 21, 2007

Not pasta exactly, but you can do a faux risotto with cauliflower. I have never done so, but some people swear by it.
posted by cabingirl at 6:46 PM on August 21, 2007

nthing spaghetti squash. If you microwave it whole (which is possible) make sure you pierce it many times with a fork. It will explode otherwise.

I made eggplant manicotti one time, substituting thin slices of eggplant for the pasta. It was stuffed with some cottage cheese mixture. It was good but not good enough to make an eggplant eater out of me.

I would happily eat any pasta sauce over a bowl of lightly sauteed white mushrooms. Then again, I just love mushrooms. Also, I think white beans do well with tomato based sauces.
posted by wallaby at 6:58 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

i don't like spaghetti squash with spaghetti sauce, but with butter and/or fruity olive oil, salt, pepper, and grated cheese, it's fantastic.

you could slice ribbons of zucchini and/or eggplant and/or carrots and serve it with sauce. potatoes and canellini beans are also good with sauce (just make pasta e fagioli without the pasta).

not veg, but shredded rotisserie chicken with sauce and cheese would be yummy.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:10 PM on August 21, 2007

and chickpeas with sauce are good, too.

also, eggs poached in tomato sauce are yummy.
posted by thinkingwoman at 7:11 PM on August 21, 2007

Polenta! Not exactly low carb, but a very small piece, baked with mushrooms, cheese and zuchinni, is surprisingly filling.
posted by pluckysparrow at 7:16 PM on August 21, 2007

you could slice ribbons of zucchini and/or eggplant...

(For our English viewers: courgette and/or aubergine)
posted by Webbster at 7:19 PM on August 21, 2007

Zucchini/summer squash cut into matchsticks on a mandolin.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:48 PM on August 21, 2007

Kale can be good with sauces. I also like it with Italian salad dressing.

Note: cook kale before eating.
posted by amtho at 8:23 PM on August 21, 2007

Soy noodles work well with most asian sauces. Italian red sauces usually pair well with cheeses like ricotta. Saute some spinach, pour on a little marina, and sprinkle with ricotta. Mung Bean Pasta is another possibility. Green beans go well with a marinara sauce as do chick peas. Grill an assortment of veggies like, eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and mushrooms. Fava or gigante beans work with red sauce as do artichoke hearts or a whole steamed artichoke. You will probably get better suggestions if you could be more specific of the type of pasta sauce that you would like to use.
posted by calumet43 at 8:32 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you have a pasta craving you can't quash, try Tofu Shirataki Noodles. They're mostly made up of tofu and yam flour, iirc. I think there's only 20 calories in a serving. I buy mine at Trader Joe's or the local Asian market.
posted by eiramazile at 8:43 PM on August 21, 2007

Spaghetti Squash seems to be all but unknown overseas. I couldn't find a single grocer in all of Sydney who knew what the hell I was talking about. We went with zucchini, sliced into ribbons and steamed. We just used a peeler to slice it really thin.
posted by web-goddess at 8:53 PM on August 21, 2007

Zucchini, eggplant, and cauliflower are my standards. I don't bother with the thin strips of zucchini; half-circles are satisfyingly shell/rotini-like, sort of.

Shirataki noodles creep me out. Don't do like I did and order a great whopping selection of packages before you decide whether you can stomach them.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:28 PM on August 21, 2007

Occhiblu's broccoli arrabbiata is the best. It is basically broccoli with a spicy tomato sauce on it.
posted by ikkyu2 at 10:39 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thinly sliced peppers. Mushrooms. Artichokes.

posted by 26.2 at 11:20 PM on August 21, 2007

Kelp noodles rule! They don't have much flavor of their own but go great with anything you cook them with. Very low carb, low fat, low calorie, low everything... and lots of fun to eat.
posted by RoseovSharon at 11:58 PM on August 21, 2007 [1 favorite]

My grandma buys low-carb pasta and loads it with veggies. She seems happy with it.
posted by letahl at 5:30 AM on August 22, 2007

Chickpeas are indeed good with tomato sauce. You'll likely want to use canned ones, since dried ones are very slow to cook. Cover them in tomato sauce and bake them in a hot oven for, I dunno, half an hour or so. The best, though, is to bake a few pieces of dark meat chicken in with the chickpeas and sauce. The contrast between the rich-and-smooth meat, the rich-and-grainy beans, and the smooth-and-tangy sauce is wonderful.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:43 AM on August 22, 2007

Have tried japanese soba noodles? No fat, no carbs from sugar.
posted by doctor_negative at 7:18 AM on August 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

This may or may not be helpful, but many low-carb diets aim to remove all carbs; such diets are generally not as good for you as those that reduce the consumption of processed carbs: whole grains are actually really good for you, it's the easy-to-digest ones you really want to avoid. If you're able to allow it in the diet (ie, the diet is by choice and not medically necessary, etc.), there are a wide variety of whole-grain pastas, all of which my wife and I like better than the "regular" stuff. You'll still be reducing "bad" carbs, but with the added benefit of more fiber in your diet (less colon cancer!) and you can still have pasta now and then.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:36 AM on August 22, 2007

Seconding the Shirataki noodles. The key is to rinse them very well in hot water, then dry well. You can also put them in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Hungry Girl has substitutes for pasta, including Shirataki noodles, and bean sprouts. The recipe for Fettuccine Hungry Girlfredo made with Shirataki noodles is pretty tasty.
posted by socrateaser at 8:41 AM on August 22, 2007 [2 favorites]

Little late, but saw this today:
posted by melissam at 9:35 PM on September 5, 2007

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