alt title: Oh, The Things I Get Myself Into
Having had limited exposure to Japanese cuisine, I hadn’t heard of shirataki noodles until a few years ago, when I saw them mentioned in Hungry Girl recipes. To be honest, I kind of wrote off the noodles as some sort of gimmicky “diet food.” (I excel at snap judgements.)
Lately I’ve been seeing shirataki noodles mentioned more frequently and on more “healthy recipe” (vs. “diet recipe”) sites, including those focused on low-carb and Paleo-centric recipes. My curiosity was piqued, so I added shirataki noodles to my “to try” list. You know, someday.
Made primarily from yam flour and water, Pasta Zero shirataki noodles contain ten times fewer carbohydrates than the average serving of pasta. Unlike other shirataki noodles, Pasta Zero also contains chickpea flour giving the noodles a “real pasta” taste and texture without the excess carbs and calories. At only 20 calories per serving, Pasta Zero lets you get creative in the kitchen with sauces and stir-fries while preparing figure-friendly meals.
I hadn’t made the low-carb connection, and even though I’m not a low-carb gal, I do have friends and readers who are. Plus, I have friends and family members who need to restrict carbs due to diabetes or insulin resistance. I convinced myself that I owed it to them to try the Shirtaki noodles.
Plus, I wanted some pasta.
I began to regret my impulsiveness. What if I hated them? What if the 7,430 comments I’d read that said shirataki noodles tasted like fish were true?
I don’t wanna eat fish noodles!
My prayers for a postal strike went unheeded and my noodles arrived.
Oh! These don’t look so bad! It looks like cooked spaghetti. Hmmm…hold that thought.
The Promised Recipe
It just so happened that when I was making my Lentil Taco Filling a few weeks ago, I had thought that lentils might make a nice base for meatless pasta sauce. The arrival of my
fish noodles Pasta Zero test product seemed like a good time to try! Here’s what I came up with:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil of choice
1 small onion, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 garlic clove, smashed
1-1/2 cups dried lentils, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 14-1/2 oz. can Italian diced tomatoes
1 6-oz. can tomato paste
1 2-1/2 oz. can sliced black olives
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Optional add-ons: Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley, or Italian seasoning blend
– In a large saucepan, saute onion and peppers in oil until softened. Stir in garlic and cook a minute longer.
– Stir in the lentils, broth, pepper and cayenne and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
– Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, black olives, vinegar, basil and oregano. Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.
This recipe yields 8 3/4-cup servings. My “rough-cut” nutritional calculations have it at about 210 calories per serving, with 2.4g of healthy fat, zero cholesterol, 8g of fiber, and 11.5g of protein. It’s high in vitamins A, C, & E, and has almost 20% of the RDA for iron.
Back to the Pasta Zero
Trust me, this is NOT an open-and-serve product. It is a clothespin-your-nose-and-rinse-the-hell-out-of-it product. The fish rumors were true, at least in regards to the initial smell.
Fortunately, the directions for de-fishitizing and preparing Pasta Zero are easy:
– Rinse until it doesn’t smell like fish and drain in a colander. (I rinsed for about a minute and the fish smell was gone. I rinsed for another minute to be on the safe side.)
– Add noodles to a non-stick skillet and dry-roast over medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
There’s a Fun Factor in that the pasta squeaks as it dries! Seriously! You can even control the squeaks by pressing the back of your wooden spoon on the noodles. It’s somewhat addictive, I have to tell you–kind of like popping a sheet of bubble wrap.
Why, yes, I am easily entertained!
Pulling It All Together
This is the easiest step of all. For a single serving, I
dumped arranged 1/2 package of pasta on my plate and topped with 3/4 cup of lentil sauce. I added a tablespoon of Parmesan cheese and shook an Italian seasoning blend on top.
The addition of Pasta Zero added 20 calories, 3g of fiber, another 20% RDA for iron, and 10% RDA each for calcium and folic acid. Not nutritionally dense, but not bad either.
If you had told me five years ago that I would be eating lentils and shirataki noodles, I would’ve laughed. If you’d told me I would actually enjoy them, I’d have fallen off my chair. But such was the case.
The lentil-tomato sauce is nice and spicy and while filling, it didn’t leave me with that “heavy” feeling I get sometimes after eating a meat-based sauce. In other words, it’s a keeper.
The Pasta Zero spaghetti doesn’t have a flavor, really. It basically takes on the flavor of the sauce, which in this case was fine.
What Pasta Zero does have is texture. It’s not so much al dente as al rubbery. I found that a bit off-putting at first, but I got used to it pretty quickly. Especially since it slurps like regular spaghetti. (I tested that aspect solely for those of you have kids and not because I was on a noodle-squeaking high.)
Nasoya provided me with several packages of pasta, so I’ve still got some on hand for future experimenting. I’ll see how it might (or might not) fit into my plan on a long-term basis. For my carb-monitoring friends and family, or someone who just wants to eat a big ol’ plate of pasta without the accompanying calories, I rate it as definitely worth a try.
As the title says, this is a two-parter. Part 2 will unfold in the next day or so and involves an opportunity for one of YOU to win a pretty big prize package. If you refrain from making snarky comments about my photography skills AND you come back, I’ll tell you all about it. Stay tuned….
Attention Target Shoppers: Big sale on walnuts this week! $6.47/16-oz. For me, that translates to &2.50 in savings over Kroger. As the saying goes, Yee-hah!
No affiliation with Target or Nasoya. Nasoya provided free noodles; Target did not provide free walnuts. (Hint, hint, Target!) As always, opinions and experiences are my own.