7 Delicious Low-Carb Pasta Subs

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 04. Oct. 2020

Everyone loves a bowl of warm pasta, but many don't love the carbs that go along with eating it. However there are a ton of delicious alternatives you can use in place of traditional pasta to make your favorite low-carb yet satisfying. Below, some of our favorite recipes.

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When substituting traditional pasta for something else in a recipe, it is important to take into consideration how the dish will be served (hot vs. cold, heavily or lightly sauced, etc.) so that you can make the right choice. For some of these options, you may want to look into investing in a julienne peeler or a spiralizer, which will make your alternatives more noodle like.

Here are some of our favorite substitutions and how to use them.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti squash is one of the easiest vegetable substitutions for traditional noodles because it is so easy to prepare. Simply cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove seeds, season with salt & pepper, then roast it in a 375-degree oven for about an hour. You'll know it's done when the flesh of the squash easily pulls away in strands.

These roasted squash ‘noodles’ can be used in warm or cold pasta dishes, topped with everything from a classic tomato sauce to a Thai peanut sauce and vegetables.

Vegan Spaghetti Squash Pasta with Asparagus and Pine Nuts

Cucumbers

If you want to make a lighter, cold noodle salad during the summer, cucumbers are a great option. You can spiralize them just as you would zucchini, then either cook them as explained above or leave them raw for a refreshing crunch.

Mix them up with a light vinaigrette or a fresh pesto, and some vegetables and nuts. 

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato noodles are a great way to replace noodles in soups or stews because they tend to hold up well and add satisfying fiber and cell-protecting beta-carotene to a dish.

If using in a soup or stew, add spiralized or julienned noodles to the simmering pot about five minutes before you are ready to serve.

Beets

Not only are beets a nutritious (they’re high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals) noodle substitution, they will also add vibrant color to any dish. The other great thing about beet noodles is that they are ideal for packing lunches, as they will not break down if you dress them the night before (they actually become more flavorful.)

You can either roast the beet noodles or leave them raw for a delicious salad. To roast them, simply place noodle-width strips of the beets on a lined baking sheet with a little oil, salt & pepper, then just pop them in a 425-degree oven for 5-10 minutes.

Zucchini

Zucchini is a great pasta substitute because it is so versatile. It can be sliced thin and long in place of lasagna noodles, or you can use a spiralizer or julienne peeler to make it into spaghetti-like noodles that can be topped with your favorite sauce.

You can either leave the zucchini raw or cook them for a warm dish. For the lasagna, roast the sliced lasagna in a 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes until the zucchini is tender. For spaghetti-like noodles, heat a large skillet with a bit of oil and sauté the noodles until al dente.

Vegan Zucchini Noodles with Raddichio and Pine Nuts

Parsnips

Parsnips are somewhat of an underdog in the vegetable world, but this mild root vegetable makes a great substitute for wheat noodles. You can use them in a shrimp scampi dish or a Bolognese, where their hearty texture is able to stand up just like pasta would.

Sautéing and boiling are both great ways cook parsnip noodles, boil until al dente in salted water or prepare in a skillet as described above.

Store-Bought Alternatives

Kelp noodles: These clear noodles are made from seaweed and have a very mild taste. Kelp is a type of brown seaweed that is known for its high iodine content. These noodles have a little crunch to them and are great for raw salads, traditional pasta sauce dishes, and soups.

Soba noodles: These Japanese favorites are typically made from buckwheat which makes them a great choice for people who are gluten-free (though not all brands are 100% GF so read labels carefully.) These are a great option for both warm or cold applications.

Shirataki noodles: Another Japanese favorite, shirataki noodles are made from a type of yam (konjac) and are translucent. Another great thing about this noodle alternative, they have zero calories per serving! Just like kelp noodles, they have practically no taste on their own, which means the possibilities are endless.

Rice, whole-wheat and quinoa noodles: Of course, if you are looking for a pasta alternative that is closer to the real thing it is good to look for something made of brown rice, whole grains or quinoa. These options will have a flavor and texture most closely related to your traditional wheat based noodles, but with a little more nutrition.

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