For years, the “Julienne” or “allumette” has reigned as the kitchen gadget of choice for anyone wanting to cut vegetables into long, thin strips in a fast and efficient way. However, with the “spiralizer” now on the scene, the Julienne could find itself overthrown.
Invented in Japan, where the spiralizer is used extensively, this device enables even the least able cook to create elaborate ribbons and noodles, which can be used raw in salads and side dishes or cooked as a substitute for pasta. Yes, the spiralizer itself looks more like something you’d find in a shed or garage, but the stuff it produces is filling, healthy, and pleasing to the eye!
The health benefits of using a spiralizer
Although there’s much creativity and fun to be found in a spiralizer, many people buy them because they make it easier to maintain a nutritious, low-fat, low-carb diet. One company selling these devices under the name “Inspiralizers” points out that a portion of “regular” spaghetti contains 221 calories and 43 grams of carbohydrates, whereas a portion of courgette noodles brings just 42 calories and 7.6 grams of carbs to the table (and your belly!).
It’s the ability to replace wheat products easily that makes the spiralizer appealing to people who follow gluten-free, paleo, and vegan diets, too. For those people who are conscious about where their food comes from and how many miles it’s traveled to reach the dining table, the spiralizer is an attractive option, since it allows you to experiment with whatever vegetables are in season.
Choosing the right spiralizer
With the popularity of these things spiraling upwards, there are more and more brands getting in on the act and adding them to their ranges of kitchenware – which can be a little confusing for anyone shopping for a spiralizer. One review claims the best of the three main variations on a spiralizer (hand-held, horizontal, and vertical) is the latter, since “The vegetable sits on top of the blade so it’s easier to use – there’s no risk of the veg falling out of position, plus naturally exerting pressure downwards as you turn the handle means it works faster.”
How to use a spiralizer
Most spiralizers come ready-made, but even those that require assembly are easy enough to put together, since the device is made with very few parts. One of those parts will be a razor-sharp blade – or rather, blades, since most spiralizers allow the user to create noodles or ribbons of varying sizes. Once you’ve chosen your desired size, it’s just a matter of cutting the ends off the vegetable or fruit you’re working with (and peeling it if you don’t want the skin) before placing it on the spike, lowering the “clamp,” and turning the handle.
What to spiralize…
As tempting as it may be to try spiralizing everything in sight, it only works well with hard or firm fruit and vegetables – so no soft, hollow, or seeded items, like tomatoes, mangoes, or bananas! Popular fruit and vegetables to use with a spiralizer are courgettes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and apples, but the possibilities are endless, depending on what’s available at any given time and place. Size is important, however, with the recommended diameter of the item being at least 1.5’’ (approx. 3 – 4cm) and the minimum length 2’’ (5cm).
Need some inspiration?
One of the easiest ways to generate ideas for how to use a spiralizer is to replace the pasta in your favorite dishes with vegetable spaghetti – “courgetti” with a seafood and tomato sauce, for example, or Pad Thai with ribbons of sweet potato instead of flat noodles. The Internet, of course, is full of suggestions, too. Or you could make the traditional “potage Julienne” by spiralizing and sautéing the carrots and beets before popping them in a pan of simmering stock, along with some leeks, onions, celery, lettuce, and herbs.