Much as we love salads, there are times when we want something different. Something saucy and warm. Something that twirls gently around our fork. Sometimes we just want noodles — but not traditional heavy pasta swimming in sauce.
Spiral-sliced vegetables have been around for a long time, but veggie noodle cuisine has exploded in the last couple of years as a way to make our favorite dishes — especially pasta — lighter.
Firm veggies like carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli and zucchini all work well as veggie noodles. Run a regular veggie peeler down the length of the vegetable to create wide ribbons…a julienne peeler works the same way to make long, narrow strips…a spiral slicer makes long, curly noodles with the turn of a handle.
Just like traditional pasta, any of these shapes can be the foundation for almost any sauce or seasoning combo.
Fresh produce? Check. Delicious flavor? Check. Easy and versatile? Check and check. Another tasty way to love vegetables!
Sweet Potato Noodles with Roasted Butternut Purée, Bacon and Spinach
Prep Time: 15m (see note) | Cook Time: 45m | Serves 2
Sweet potatoes are a great introduction to the world of delicious vegetable noodles. They’re flavorful on their own, but not so sweet that they’ll interfere with a savory sauce — and they’re such a bright, cheerful color!
We love the smoky flavor of bacon in this dish, but you can easily omit it to keep the recipe vegetarian — the noodles will still be delicious and satisfying.
2 cups cubed, peeled fresh Earthbound Farm Organic Butternut Squash (or Earthbound Farm Frozen Organic Butternut Squash)
1 tablespoon olive oil + more for drizzling
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded into noodles with a spiral slicer or a manual veggie peeler or julienne peeler (see note)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
4 strips uncured bacon
1/2 cup Silk unsweetened almond milk
3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more as needed
1 cup (packed) Earthbound Farm Organic Baby Spinach
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
Place the butternut squash (if using frozen, don’t thaw) in a medium bowl and drizzle with just enough olive oil to moisten. Add the cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss the squash to coat evenly. Place the seasoned butternut onto the baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes (frozen) to 35 minutes (fresh), until the squash is tender and beginning to caramelize around the edges.
While the squash is roasting, put a large skillet over medium heat. Add the tablespoon of olive oil and the sweet potato noodles. Sprinkle evenly with the garlic powder. Cook until the noodles just soften, tossing often, about 6-8 minutes. (If the noodles get dry and start to stick, moisten with a little of the veggie broth.) Set the hot noodles aside in a bowl.
Wipe out the skillet with a moist paper towel and return it to the stove over medium heat. Add the bacon strips and cook until crispy. (If you have two baking sheets and room in your oven, roast the bacon in the oven alongside the butternut for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on its thickness. If you stack the sheets on the racks, switch halfway through cooking time.) Set the cooked bacon aside on a plate lined with paper towels.
Add the roasted butternut to a food processor or blender with the almond milk and about half of the vegetable broth. Pulse until creamy.
Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butternut purée and the rest of the vegetable broth. Cook until the purée reduces to a thick, creamy texture.
Add the baby spinach and cooked sweet potato noodles to the sauce. Toss gently to coat. (If the sauce is too thick or the noodles seem dry, thin the sauce with a little water or more vegetable broth.) Cook until the spinach just begins to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes.
Divide the noodle mixture between two bowls. Crumble half of the bacon into each bowl and top with the chopped pecans. Serve hot and enjoy!
Note: Ali uses the Paderno 3-blade slicer for the recipes on her blog, and it makes a lot of veggie noodles quickly and easily. A veggie peeler or julienne peeler will work well, too; they just take a bit longer.