Empty pasta aisles in the supermarket remind us how much we love a Mediterranean diet. So, it's good to know that yummy alternatives to pasta have also been with us for a long time. Pasta-less meals can include any of the following healthy options.
1. Creamed cauliflower (aka mashed cauliflower). Creamed cauliflower appears to offer all the bonuses of comfort food, with few of the calories and more of the nutrition. Steam cauliflower florets until tender, then blend in food processor or mash, together with your preferred flavourings. Add salt & pepper, olive oil, butter or sour cream. Optionally add a little crushed garlic, some coriander seeds, dried/fresh parsley or other herbs. Tip: drizzle olive oil in slowly while the food processor or mashing is happening for a lighter, 'fluffier' outcome.
2. Zucchini fettuccini. Peel fresh zucchini lengthways into long strips to any width you like and dress with lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Eat hot or cold.
3. Polenta, coarse, fine, or instant. A time-honoured staple, polenta is traditionally cooked in a pot on the stove, with the ingredients for success being some salt, herbs or butter (and/or cheese when we are feeling particularly indulgent). Remember that the coarser the polenta, the fuller the flavour. Serve straight into a bowl and top with bolognaise, ratatouille, osso buco, lentils, or any other casserole-type dish. Another option is to spread into a tray to set, then fry in oil or butter cut as triangles, squares, or chunky 'chips'.
4. Potato or sweet potato. Mashed tatties make a great casserole or pasta sauce under-layer, like polenta.
5. Homemade gnocchi. This is a quick and relatively painless way to bulk up potato and flour options.
6. Make your own pasta. This can be a whole afternoon’s activity during these home-based school holidays and, once the experimenting with vegetable additions in the pasta mix begins, can open the doorway to a whole new world of colours, flavours, and possibilities.