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We shall never tire of celebrating pasta. It is the pride and joy of Italy and lends itself to just as many interpretations, whether fresh, dry or stuffed. Let it be said, once and for all, that pasta deserves a rightful place in any well-balanced and healthy diet, so long as the quantity and sauces are correctly dosed. But, be truthful: if it were possible to find a no carb pasta, would you eat it? Here are nine ideas for some carb free 'pasta’ dishes made from vegetables, algae, tubers or roots. The flavour and texture are obviously quite different but they offer a colourful and healthy way to satisfy your desire for a first course. No comparison whatsoever with a well executed carbonara but you may even surprise yourself by how much you like them.
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The most famous of all are probably vegetable spaghetti. First of all, you need the right piece of equipment to make them, simple to use with the possibility to vary the thickness. Then, blanch them for a few minutes and create an intriguing dressing: we particularly recommend avocado pesto.
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Squash or pumpkin spaghetti: whatever you wish to call it, this pumpkin is born to be a first course. It produces spaghetti-like strands with a delicate, almost neutral flavour: you just have to boil the pumpkin and scoop it out with a fork. Very low in calories but extremely rich in folic acid, potassium, Vitamins A and C, and carotene.
Now available in all supermarkets, shirataki are made from the root of the konjac, a plant widely cultivated in Asia that has practically no calories at all. Take note however: since they are largely composed of water and glucomannan, don’t expect them to have any remarkable content of vitamins, proteins and mineral salts. Neither do they have much flavour, so serve them with a rich and tasty accompaniment.
CAULIFLOWER COUS COUS
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You don’t even need to cook this cous cous made from raw cauliflower, grated or broken up in a blender. Effortless and highly satisfying, this filling dish has deceived many people, convinced it is actually cous cous. Try it with broad beans and onions or Moroccan-style.
Use your magical mandolin slicer to make this colourful carrot spaghetti. If you adore its crunchiness, take it directly from the worktop to the plate without transiting in a pan (or microwave). Dressing suggestions? Browse around a store of Asian specialities and let yourself be inspired by ginger, spices, peanut and coconut milks.
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Image: Coconut and Berries
Here the colour palette is so inspiring that it is hard to resist the temptation of mixing beetroot spaghetti with those of carrots and zucchini. Once again, the method is so easy it is hardly worthwhile going into details. A most recommended pairing is with assertively flavoured cheese such as gorgonzola and maybe a handful of walnuts.
favourite of raw cuisine. Similarly to cauliflower, the celeriac has to be put into the blender raw to create a consistency similar to rice for using as a base for cold salads or – why not? – tasty sushi rolls. We won’t go as far as to suggest you use it for risotto but, would you believe, some chefs have started to do just that.
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With more calories than other vegetable spaghetti – less however than “normal” pasta – but plenty of nutrients, potato spaghetti have been interpreted by many chefs. Massimo Bottura has cooked them with a sauce of clams, creamed sea urchin and caviar.
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Kelp noodles are made from kelp seaweed, low in calories and carbohydrates but very rich in mineral salts. They are readily available and quick to cook. A recommended pairing is with rich creamy sauces.