March is National Noodle Month. There are endless varieties of noodles consumed around the world. As always, each culture enjoys noodles and noodle dishes differently. Noodles are commonly made from rice, wheat, or buckwheat flour. But don’t be surprised to see noodles made from root vegetables like yams or from seaweed and mung bean starch. Noodles are found in soups, salads, stir fries, side dishes, and in main courses and desserts.
Often used interchangeably, the traditional noodle is related to pasta, but the two foods are not the same.
- The flour used to make noodles is a finer flour (or a variety of different flours) in comparison to traditional pasta that is made from a heavier, denser flour.
- Salt, an essential ingredient in noodles, adds flavor and makes the noodle dough more flexible. Pasta does not require salt but may be added while cooking.
- Pasta is typically cooked in boiling water and served up hot in different sauces, often linked to Italian dishes. Noodles may be cooked in water or in a broth and can be transformed into multicultural recipes from one dish to the next. Enjoy a comforting cup of Chicken Noodle Soup or warm up with a hot bowl of Beef Pho with Rice Noodles.
As our tastes evolve, combined with the never-ending efforts to manage weight and eat healthy, noodles have become more adaptable. Vegetable based noodles have become an indispensable ingredient in many dishes, contributing to a higher intake of fiber and a variety of nutrients.
- Spaghetti squash is an excellent noodle substitute. Easy to prepare, simply prick the squash in several places with a fork, then bake it for 20-45 minutes at 350° F. Once cooked, separate the flesh with a fork into strings which resemble spaghetti noodles. Try this Garlic Spaghetti Squash or this tasty Shrimp Spaghetti Squash dish.
- So many vegetables can be spiralized with a modest, inexpensive kitchen tool. From zucchini and squash to beets, carrots, cucumbers, and potatoes. Spiralize your own veggies or pick up ready-to-use veggie noodles in the produce department at McCaffrey’s. Either way, try your hand with this Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Avocado Pesto recipe.
- Even cabbage can be used as a noodle substitute. Use whole cabbage leaves in place of lasagna or chop cabbage into thin noodles and use in soups, pad thai, or lo mein.
- Shirataki noodles, also referred to as miracle noodles, are a popular, low carb alternative to pasta because they have so few calories. The long, white vegetable-based noodles have been a staple in Japan and China for centuries. Shirataki noodles are easy to prepare. Simply unpack and rinse them well under hot running water to remove the liquid, warm them up and add a sauce. Alternatively, heating the noodles in a skillet will remove some of the excess water, creating a more noodle-like texture.
National Noodle Month is fun and encourages creativity to incorporate noodles into all kinds of different meals.