The Seemingly Silly Vegetable Tool I Haven’t Put Away All Summer

updated Jul 29, 2021
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A variety of summer vegetables on the kitchen counter
Credit: Guy Ambrosino

Sometimes it seems like everything before this past year-and-a-half was just a fever dream, but a scroll though the photos on my phone reminds me that, yes, there was a time before COVID. One such example? Last year, in early March, a friend and I split a plate of zucchini pesto noodles during dinner at the restaurant of the hotel we were staying at. (A restaurant! A hotel!) The dish was so tasty, I instantly ordered a second serving for myself and then ate it again the following night, too. Beyond the flavors, I was struck by the consistency, texture, and just how good the zoodles were compared to alt-pasta I’ve tried (looking at you, lentil and quinoa noodles!).

Since then, I’ve been committed to recreating it, with varying results until I got a spiralizer of my own.

Credit: Nilina Mason-Campbell

First, I tried frozen zucchini spirals from Costco, but they were soggy even after pan frying. I realized that fresh was the way to go, but buying $2.99 pre-spiralized packages at the grocery store didn’t seem very cost-effective. Enter: the Chef’n Handheld Spiralizer! I never thought I’d be someone who owns a spiralizer, and now, not only do I have one — I won’t stop talking about it or using it! Without any bells or whistles, it gets the job done and makes for fresh, easy (inexpensive!) zoodles. Plus, it’s pretty fun to use. In fact, I feel like the joy of making the zoodles is equal to the joy I get from eating them.

My initial hesitation over getting this was the manual labor I anticipated it’d take, but it’s easy to use and doesn’t require much muscle. The only prep is to cut the ends of the zucchini off and then cut it in half so that it’ll fit in the center of the tool. Then, I just have to make some twists and the zoodles quickly pile up.

Credit: Nilina Mason-Campbell

While I considered a countertop spiralizer, I’m glad I went with this smaller, more portable option. I like that I can take it — along with a bowl — into my living room and use it on the couch in front of the television. (It’s made my TV habit seem like a productive activity!)

Related: The Best Spiralizers for Most Home Cooks, According to the Best Experts

The gadget also cuts down on my dishes. I don’t need a cutting board or any other intermediary dish. I can spiral directly into the pan I’ll use to sauté them or into the bowl I’ll use to serve the meal. After I’m done with my spiralizing, there’s but a nub of zucchini left, which I use in a vegetable roast or for vegetable broth stock. And I just have to run the spiralizer under warm water so it’s ready for the next time.

What have I been making? I’ve been sautéing the zoodles and then serving them with a vegan kale pesto sauce, topped with hemp seeds to recreate that Restaurant Romanoff dish. On repeat. All summer long. And because I’m so enamored with this tool, I’ve been looking up more recipes and am excited to try it out with onions for stir-fries and maybe for sweet potato fries, too, come the fall. But for now, the zucchini is more than enough. I have it almost every night as a side and I’ve also added black bean meatballs to turn the dish into a heartier dinner. I may not be going out to dinner or staying at hotels (yet), but at least I have something fun to do and eat.