If you've never used a spiralizer or a zoodler or a hand-held Vegetti (real name), 'tis the cookbook season. This batch of fall publications includes not one but three (maybe more!) cookbooks that promise to help you use this contraption to its greatest potential.
Their various premises—from encyclopedic and health-focused (Inspiralize Everything), to mainstream and approachable (Spiralize This!), to pocket-sized and bare bones (Spiralize 2.0)—shed light onto where this gadget is going: Nowhere fast.
First, Spiralizer 2.0, a $10 mini-book of around 20 recipes from Williams-Sonoma that follows up The Spiralizer Cookbook. The fact that there's already a companion book, just one year after the original, must mean the demand is there.
The 2.0 version doesn't contain a fully-detailed spiralizing 101 or any recipes for the basics—no zucchini noodles here—but rather picks up where the first book leaves off, jumping straight to next-level like Lemon-Olive Oil Upside Down Cake—you spiralize the lemon!—and Breakfast Hash with Crispy Sweet Potato Spirals, in which curls of sweet potatoes are deep-fried. If you've cooked through the first book and now you're bored and ready to graduate to Spiralizer College, this is where you look.
But since Spiralizer 2.0 is more recipe mag and less substantive zoodle bible, let's turn our attention to the other two—which approach the spiralizer from two different, perhaps opposing, directions—instead.
In comparing the titles alone—Spiralize This! versus Inspiralize Everything—you'll get a sense of how the two books break-down. Whereas the first, by New York Times food columnist Martha Rose Shulman, asks you to spiralize from time to time—spiralize this that and the other—Ali Maffucci's book wants a bigger commitment: Spiralize everything. Leave no vegetable un-noodled!
Maffucci's is a 288-page doorstopper that goes from apple to zucchini, making stops in between for chayote, kohlrabi, radishes, jicama, and other pieces of produce I never even knew you could spiralize. And her book is about a lifestyle (about everything), not merely about a kitchen gadget. "On a typical Saturday morning," her introduction starts, "my husband, Lu, and I wake up early, go for an invigorating run outside together, and end up at our local farmer’s market." (This does not sound like my life.)
"After discovering spiralizing, my whole perspective on eating healthy changed," she continues. " I started to focus on eating whole, real ingredients and stopped getting caught up in the minutiae of dieting. I discovered moderation, the concept of nourishing your body from the inside out, and, most important, committing to a lifestyle rather than a temporary diet."
This philosophy explains why Inspiralize Everything includes a glossary ["inspiralized (adverb): a meal made with spiralized vegetables that's now healthier and more inspired because of it"] and a section on stocking "The Inspiralized Pantry." It also explains why every recipe lists nutrition facts; why you'll find vegan Minestrone with Zucchini Noodles in the same chapter as Gluten-Free Chicken Parmesan over Zucchini Noodles and paleo Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread with Coconut Cream Frosting (a recipe for every dietary restriction!); and why there's a lot of "oven-frying" and no deep-frying.
The Green Goddess Zucchini Pasta I made was an enjoyable mix of creamy and crunchy, with lots of herbs and acidity, but the idea that anyone would think of the slightly-slimy curlicues of raw zucchini as "pasta" was as insulting a joke as the quote in the book's opener: the famous "Everything you see here I owe to spaghetti” from Sophia Loren. I could have also done without the judgment in the headnote (however unintentional): "Whether it was the second slice of birthday cake at lunch or an emotionally draining week that led to a junk food bender [...] this meal will get you back to feeling like the goddess that you are." I'm one piece of cake away from the "goddess" status to which I should aspire.
If you buy into Maffucci's brand of "health"—that a meal that replaces pasta with vegetable strands is a "healthier one"—or if you're a bigger person than I, able to read the book without feeling bad about your own choices (and sugar cravings), it's a great resource, organized in a smart way, with chapter openers that give tips for spiralizing the specific ingredients.
The seventy-five recipes in Spiralize This!, in contrast, are organized by dish-type—harder to navigate if you know what (and that) you want to spiralize, more inspiring if you're looking to do some spiralizing but don't know how to start incorporating it. Shulman offers a whole lot of basic information for the never-before-spiralized, including a whole section on what won't work (turns out "everything" cannot actually be spiralized) and troubleshooting veg noodles that fall apart or discolor or leak water.
Her mission is to present the spiralizer as a democratizing tool: It eliminates tedious kitchen tasks, like chopping or grating; it's safer than a mandoline; it sets you up for faster cooking. And while some of the recipes are vegan or gluten-free, she emphasizes that they're all designed for "a broader spectrum of eaters and cooks" and meant to "be appealing, even irresistible, for people who do not, as well as for people who do, eliminate certain food groups from their diet.”
There's frying; there's fat; there's sugar; there's cake; there's latkes! There is no referring to zoodles as "pasta" without modifying it with "zucchini."
While Shulman writes that she lost weight while working on the book, she "didn’t need to or mean to lose weight, but [...] was eating a very satisfying diet with the calories coming mainly from vegetables.” Whether you believe her or not, it's obvious that she wants her recipes to be seen as "just-so-happens-to-be-healthy"; Maffucci, on the other hand, makes "health" her priority.
The difference between Spiralize This! and Inspiralize Everything parallels that between a vegan book that markets itself as desirable even if you eat meat and one that brings ethical and nutritional concerns to the forefront. Even when Maffucci uses the tool in an interesting way—to make radish "rice," for example—the focus is not on improving taste or convenience: It's on replacing something she considers less "healthy."
I made the Zucchini Pasta with Ricotta and Peas from Spiralize This! and found it needed lots of salt and could have benefitted from the addition of lemon juice and many more herbs. But I preferred the briefly-boiled zucchini to Maffucci's raw (and that Shulman didn't inform me that it was low-carb or low-cal).
And, because Shulman's book makes a point of emphasizing the versatility of the spiralizer as a tool that'd be useful in any kitchen, it will be less dated as dietary trends go out of style. When we no longer remember what "paleo" means or why so many people went gluten-free in 2014, Shulman's Cabbage, Potato and Kale Gratin won't seem as "of a time" as Maffucci's Avocado "Toast," in which the toast is made of... parsnip strands.
Still, the fact that all three of these books are coming (or have come) out this fall speaks to the endurance of the tool: It's not just for the health-conscious; it has mainstream staying-power. I have one that I love.
So as for me, I'll be pitching my own spiralizer book to publishers: I'm calling it Spiralize This, That, and Everything 3.0. If you're interested, please contact my agent.
Which of these books appeals most to you? Or is the answer d) none of the above? Tell us in the comments.