From roasted cauliflower to julienned summer squash, Kenji's healthy substitutions are even tastier than noodles.
Credit: Photo: Randy Mayor

Create the same flavorful, filling deliciousness of pasta with smart swaps, subbing veggies and legumes for noodles. Beans are an obvious choice, and many are ready to go straight from the can. Drained chickpeas, roughly torn kale leaves, and quartered hard-boiled eggs are my go-to powerhouse trio. I stir the kale and chickpeas into tomato sauce, stew until the kale is tender, and then serve them topped with the quartered eggs drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. Sautéed diced winter squash is also lovely in a tomato or meat sauce. And cannellini beans go nicely with a simple sauce of crumbled sausage, mushrooms, garlic, and olive oil.

Are you a baked pasta lover? Is that even a question? Everybody loves baked ziti or mac and cheese. Next time, trade the pasta for roasted cauliflower or broccoli. Toss florets in olive oil, and roast at 450° until browned; then toss with your sauce, transfer to a casserole dish, sprinkle with a little cheese, and bake just like you would regular pasta.

If you crave long strands of noodles, roasted and shredded spaghetti squash is the obvious choice, but you have more options:

Julienne summer squash (use a mandoline), and give it a quick sauté. And if you sauté finely shredded cabbage, it'll bundle up on your fork, holding a mushroom ragù in its strands just like spaghetti.

Isn't it nice when healthier dishes are also tastier?