Too hot to cook? Try a spiralizer
BY JOAN LEOTTA
For The Sun NewsJuly 29, 2014 –missing the photo of
The Paderno Spiralizer slicing up a beet. The tool is a good one to have in the kitchen during the hot summer months when you don’t want to turn on the oven or stand outside over a hot grill.
BY JOAN LEOTTA — For The Sun News
So, it’s too hot to cook.
That’s not a surprise here in the South where summer steams and sizzles enough to chase us away from the stove and often makes standing out by the grill too much to bear.
I think all of this heat and humidity is nature’s way of trying to get us to sample simple preparations of fruits and vegetables as meals. Resorting to ready-made options from the grocery or local restaurant is fine nce in a while. The heat of summer calls out for fresh fruits and vegetables, often uncooked. These options are full of vitamins, fiber and often spiced to help our bodies survive the heat. Homemade is still best, even in the heat.
Tomatoes and mozzarella, salads with canned beans, tuna, and/or cheese for additional protein have been summer staples for no-stove nights at our house for many years. Sometimes I avoid afternoon heat by cooking a pasta or making roast chicken in the morning and using these in cool, room temperature meals in the evening.
While cooking things like pasta in the morning and adding tuna or beans for a dose of protein, or simply eating a salads is something I have always done, preparing a variety of raw veggies for dinner was not that appealing until I recently discovered a new tool that that allows me to prepare them quickly and easily as main course, even in raw form.
This new kitchen toy, one of the most useful and fun items I have purchased over the years is the Paderno Spiralizer. Williams and Sonoma carries the Paderno Spiralizer nationally, although you will have to call to see if it is available that their location at The Market Common in Myrtle Beach.
There are other ways to slice and dice for the recipes but the fun of using the spiralizer has been like a kitchen muse to me. There are other brands of spiralizers on the market. My research showed this one to be the easiest to use and to clean. If it seems a bit pricey at around $35, read the alternative preparation directions below. While you will not get the fun curls, the slice and dice matchstick cuts will provide the right size to use the raw veggies successfully in the recipes given. Below you will find two of my own raw food recipes and one for a more traditional pasta salad meal option.
When the little machine arrived, I was awaiting with a zucchini and a yellow squash to try it out. I had decided to rely on the instruction booklet for my first recipes. Surprise! My machine came with one sheet of four languages worth of assembly instructions but no recipes and no description of what each of the blade inserts would produce.
I called the 800 number and a young woman apologized and said she would email me all of that. Two weeks later, still no instructions.
No matter. I did not have to wait until the company responded or my veggies went bad and the post office delivered the missing sheet of instructions because I found www.inspiralized.com. This website/blog is written by Alissandra Maffucci who found the machine a while ago, made it her muse, the inspiration for thousands of recipes (cooked and uncooked) and a free source of information for anyone who wants to learn how to use the spiralizer. Her efforts inspired my recipes.
My own efforts with the inpsiralizer began with the squashes. Then I went on to combine beets and chickpeas, inspired in my choice of spices by Maffucci’s Morroccan Beet recipe.
I moved on to a folded accordion string of cucumber in a lovely to look at as well as lovely to eat Greek salad. I am having so much fun wth this little machine, I could go paeo (eating raw food all the time) or vegetarian!
To give the foods a shot of protein, simply add a can of beans (drained and rinsed) to the recipes. Meat lovers who want to add chicken or leftover other meats to the recipes will find they combine well.
Rely on your own instincts as a cook and your own cultural palate of herbs to add zing to any of these vegetable creations. For me that means a lot of parsley, oregano and basil, all three of which I use fresh in the summer, dried in the winter. Middle Eastern spices of cumin, turmeric and cinnamon are next. I like to use good olive oil and either a pomegranate red wine vinegar or balsamic (when I want to add sweetness).
Maffucci says that for those who don’t want to invest in a spiralizer, “Don’t worry, you can still eat zucchini pasta by using other methods. They don’t create “noodles” like the spiralizer – the veggies comes out more like a slaw, but tastes similarly delicious. Also if you haven’t bought a spiralizer yet, this is a great way to test the waters.”
She adds a caution to those who see the close resemblance between spiralized veggies and pasta noodles. She advises that heating them should be done with caution.
“They become too mushy when put over heat (at least the peeled and julienned ones).” But even for light heating on the spiral ones, she and I (albeit from a more limited experience with me) think that they work best for cold sauces (like pesto).
Whether you play with an inspiralizer or use a julienne cutter or painstakingly make matchstick slices with a sharp knife, enjoy these two cold supper vegetable dishes and the more traditional pasta salad. As I said before, add cheese, tuna, beans, salmon, or strips of cold cooked chicken, beef, or lamb to turn these into truly hearty but healthy and cooling summer suppers.
For more recipes, check out www.inspiralized.com. You may even want to, as I have, sign up for her newsletter. If you like cookbooks better than the Web for recipes, Maffucci will have a new cookbook out in 2015.
Serves 4. If you are using the spiralizer, after you have cut the cucumber, you might want to farther cut the long ribbon into shorter segments to make it easier to serve.
1 medium size cucumber cut into lenghts on the single blade
1 smallish red onion (will come in half slices—on the large blade of the spiralizer)
6 radishes sliced thinly by hand
1 carrot sliced on the large hole spiralizer blades
3 T apple cider vinegar
4 T olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T fresh dill
8-10 cherry tomatoes cut in half
After cutting the cucumber, carrot and onion, cut the longest spirals into smaller pieces, Place in large bowl. Add the radish and tomatoes. Add the oil, vinegar, dill, salt and pepper.
If you are not going to serve for some time wait until just before serving to add the salt. Salt will draw the water out of the cucumber
MOROCCAN BEET SALAD
Inspired by Ali Maffucci. Serves 4.
1 15-oz. can low sodium garbanzo beans washed and drained
1 large beet
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 T cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
2 T fresh parsley
1 T fresh basil sprinkled over the top at the end
1/4 cup olive oil
3 T balsamic vinegar–the sweetness will complement the cinnamon and the others
Use the spiralizer on large blade setting to make curls. Mix with the garbanzo beans. Mix all of the rest of the ingredients, except for the basil together and use the mixture to dress the beets and beans.
Serve at room temperature as side or main dish.
SPINACH BOWTIE (AKA FARFALLE) SALAD
1 box (16 ox) mini-bowtie pasta
4 c fresh spinach
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 cup fresh red pepper sliced thin
1/4 cup olive oil
10-12 cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 can black olives drained (largest size olives you can find)
1/4 cup parsley (fresh, chopped)
1 tsp dill
3 T basil (fresh , chopped)
Put all ingredients except pasta into a large bowl. Cook pasta to al dente and drain.
While pasta is still hot, add it to bowl with all of the other ingredients. Stir.
Serve at room temperature.
Tip: To turn this into a more hearty dish add tuna, or cooked chicken or other meat, or a can of drained white cannellini or garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed.