The ability to slice and shred a range of vegetables into ribbons has long been possible with a julienne peeler, but the technique has been made fuss-free and far more appealing with the arrival of the spiralizer. Originating in Japan, this handy and reasonably priced piece of kit is starting to creep into the mainstream.
If you're looking to cut back on carbs, pack in the fruit and veg and maintain a healthy weight this gadget could transform how you cook. The difference between 100g of pasta and 100g of courgette is about 300kcal and the cooking time is considerably less. But how do you get started? We asked BBC Good Food’s senior food editor Cassie Best to give us a crash course in spiralizing…
Which spiralizer to buy?
Before investing in a new piece of kit, be sure to read our review of the best spiralizers. You'll find budget buys and investment gadgets alike.
How to use your spiralizer
Most models available work in a similar way, and creating oodles of healthy noodles is a satisfyingly simple process: ''Attach raw fruit or vegetables to the ‘teeth’, then turn the handle to push the vegetable through your choice of blade to create vegetables ribbons, or noodles in a variety of thicknesses,'' explains Cassie.
What are the best vegetables to spiralise?
There are a few vegetables that were born to be spiralized according to Cassie: ''The firm texture of root vegetables makes them perfect for spiralizing, but you can also use cucumbers, squash or pumpkin, or firm fruits such as apples and pears.''
Forget spaghetti, it’s all about ‘courgetti.’ Use the thin noodle attachment on the spiralizer to create long twirls of pasta-like vegetable noodles. Simply boil the spiralised courgette for 20 seconds, then top with Bolognese or stir through pesto and some prawns.
Raw carrot ribbons, made with the slicing blade, add texture and crunch to a salad or slaw. Or, you can stir-fry the carrot ribbons for a couple of minutes with garlic and coconut oil for a healthy side dish.
3. Sweet potato
Use the thicker noodle blade to create sweet potato curly fries, toss in a little oil and bake until crisp.
Coleslaw will never be the same again, add texture with apple noodles; just make sure you toss in lemon juice as soon as the apple noodles come out of the spiralizer to prevent them from browning.
This large, white vegetable is part of the radish family and is used widely in Asian cooking. Use in place of rice noodles to make pad Thai, or raw in Asian salads.
To cook or not to cook?
Naturally, cooking your courgetti is a much speedier process than boiling bags of weighty pasta: ''Most spiralized vegetables can be eaten raw or cooked. Some vegetables, such as aubergine, can break up when cooked, but most will hold their shape if gently boiled or stir-fried,'' says Cassie.
When it comes to health credentials, some vegetables actually benefit from being cooked, like carrots and tomatoes, while others have more nutritional gravitas when left raw, such as broccoli. Find out more about the best way to prepare your veg for maximum nutritional impact in our guide: Raw vs cooked.
How to store
''To save time (and washing up) vegetables can be spiralized in bulk and stored in the fridge for up to three days until ready to serve. Store in a bowl of water to keep the veg crisp. Some vegetables, such as apples, celeriac, parsnips and mooli, will turn brown over time, so it’s best to add a squeeze of lemon juice to the water to prevent this from happening.''
Watch our video on how to spiralize:
Have you invested in a spiralizer? We'd love to know how you've been using yours in the comments below. If you're still shopping for the perfect model, read our review of the best spiralizers and juliennes.