I love, love, love a good pasta dish. And I know I’m not alone in my craving for tasty Italian carbs.
But sometimes, a steaming dish of heavy noodles is more than my belly can bear.
Food allergies and intolerances can also be an issue. My youngest brother can’t eat wheat, but he’s never been a big fan of the gluten-free pastas that are available at the local grocery or health food store.
So whenever we get a craving for spaghetti, it’s important that we find something that can satisfy both our taste buds and our bellies.
Thankfully, with the help of a spiralizer, light, grain-free noodles are super simple to make at home.
A spiralizer turns all kinds of produce into long, spirally strands that look a lot like noodles.
Okay, not all kinds – it might be tricky to get an orange or a head of lettuce through there… but many different types can be transformed into scrumptious strings, like kohlrabi in our spicy Asian-inspired slaw, or apples and onions in our kale salad!
Of course, just because you are foregoing traditional wheat noodles in this particular dish doesn’t mean you have to give up on big flavor, too.
I love serving them with my favorite traditional pasta toppings. Especially roasted vegetables.
Tossed with roasted garlic and red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, and olive oil, and topped with a touch of fresh Parmesan cheese and crispy sage leaves, you won’t even notice that the pasta is missing.
The best way to get sweet potatoes to achieve the perfect al dente texture is to saute them in a bit of olive oil. Boiling will break them down a bit too much, and turn them into a soggy mess.
When roasting red peppers at home, there are a few options.
The simplest method is to slowly roast them in a hot oven, rotating every ten minutes until the skin chars. Of course, this can take quite some time.
A faster (and super fun!) method is to char them with a kitchen torch or over the flame of a gas stove. I’ll explain this in a little more detail below.
This recipe will serve two hungry adults for dinner. Adjust as needed for a single serving, or to meet the needs of a crowd.
Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days or so, so don’t worry if you can’t quite eat it all in one sitting.
Cooking by the Numbers…
Step 1 – Roast
Slow roasting is my favorite way to enjoy red bell peppers. They become so sweet and flavorful as they cook.
There are a few ways to go about roasting peppers:
The most low-tech method is to place the pepper on a baking sheet and cook it in a 375°F oven for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. The pepper will slowly char on each side.
Another method is to roast the pepper over the flame of a gas stove. This might not be the safest course of action, as you have less control over the flame than when working with a torch, but it definitely works in a pinch!
The final method, the one that I will demonstrate, is using a kitchen torch. I love working with these tools, so this is my favorite way to get the job done. It’s also much faster than the oven method!
Holding the pepper with tongs, torch it on all sides on a heatproof surface until it is dark and charred. On the torch’s highest level, slowly pass the flame from stem to base all the way around until the entire pepper is torched.
Be sure to use flameproof metal tongs to handle the pepper, rotating it every 30 seconds or so to cook evenly on all sides.
Once the pepper is charred well, place it in a stainless steel mixing bowl and cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap to trap the steam. Set aside for 10 minutes.
As the pepper sits, the steam will help to separate the skin from the fruit, making it easy to peel.
And yes, you heard me right – bell peppers, like tomatoes, are technically a fruit!
Step 2 – Simmer
Place 1/3 cup olive oil in a small saucepot over low heat. Add the garlic cloves, sage leaves, and red pepper flakes. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes.
The garlic will slowly turn brown and translucent, becoming very soft as it cooks.
Keeping the heat low for this step is so important. There is no good way to speed up this process!
The slow cooking gently caramelizes the sugars in the garlic, developing a delicious flavor. Turning up the heat will fry the outside, creating a bitter, tough skinned clove rather than the soft, sweet roasted garlic that you’re going for.
Once the garlic is soft, turn off the heat. Remove the sage leaves and place them on a plate lined with paper towels. You’re going to save these for a tasty, crunchy garnish!
Mash the garlic cloves with a fork. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
Set aside to let the garlic flavor continue to develop while you proceed with the recipe. All of that good flavor will infuse into the heated oil, creating a sauce.
Though you could use the variety of sun-dried tomatoes that are packed in oil for this recipe, the regular dried version will work too, since the heated oil will help to reconstitute them.
Step 3 – Peel
Now that the pepper has had a chance to enjoy its steam bath, it’s time to peel off the skin!
Take off the plastic wrap and gently rub the skin away from the pepper. It should come off really easily.
Remove the stem and all of the seeds – but be careful. Some juices might be trapped inside that could burst out. Don’t burn yourself!
Slice the fruit into thin slivers.
Step 4 – Spiralize
For the best sweet potato noodles, it’s important to peel them.
Their tough skins will give a somewhat unpleasant texture to the final dish, and they can make it difficult to send the vegetable through the spiral machine.
After peeling them with a sturdy vegetable peeler, I like to cut each one in half lengthwise – smaller pieces with a flat base on both ends are easier to handle when spiralizing.
Spiralize them according to the manufacturer’s directions for your particular model.
I’ll demonstrate the spiralizing technique using the Paderno World Cuisine tri-blade spiralizer.
Secure the base on a solid surface, like a table or a counter, by firmly pressing down on its suction feet.
Insert the shredder blade – it has the smallest holes that will yield long, spaghetti-like spiral strands for perfect noodles!
Insert the handle attachment on the other side, sliding it up or down to accommodate enough space for your veggie.
Using either flat end, pierce it on either flat end onto the small circular metal corer on the blade, and press the other end of it into the plastic prongs on the handle attachment to secure it in place.
Crank the handle attachment, gently pushing it towards the blade as you apply more pressure to spiralize it completely. The noodles will fall out on the opposite side of the blade.
Step 5 – Saute
Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat.
Once it’s hot, add the noodles and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the sauce and the peppers to the pan.
Place back on the stove for another minute to heat through. Toss to coat the noodles and evenly distribute the ingredients.
Season with salt and pepper and mix again. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, garnish with the crispy sage leaves, and serve.
A Healthy, Hearty Meal
This dish will fill you up without weighing you down. Packed full of vegetables and heart-healthy olive oil, you’ll be surprised that something so rich could also be so nutritious.
The vibrant colors from the orange spirals, the peppers, and the tomatoes will certainly brighten up your daily dinner routine. And you and your dining companions will have so much fun slurping up those fun noodles!
Who needs pasta, anyway?
Looking for another sauce recipe to drape over these gluten-free strands? Our slow cooker spaghetti meat sauce is hearty, healthy, and delicious. But if you’re looking for something rich and creamy, try our fresh tomato cream sauce.
Give this spiralized gluten-free pasta a try tonight, and let us know how it turns out for you! Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. With additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.
*Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Kendall Vanderslice
Kendall’s love of food has taken her around the world. From baking muffins on a ship in West Africa and milking cows with Tanzanian Maasai, to hunting down the finest apfelstrudel in Austria, she continually seeks to understand the global impact of food. Kendall holds a BA in Anthropology from Wheaton College and an MLA in Gastronomy from Boston University, and has worked in the pastry departments of many of Boston’s top kitchens. Based in Somerville, Massachusetts, Kendall helps to run a small community supported bread bakery and writes about the intersection of food, faith, and culture on her personal blog, A Vanderslice of the Sweet Life.