Are Spiralizers Here to Stay? These (Very Different) Books Bet Yes

September  9, 2016

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.

Imagine that this is you. Photo by James Ransom

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.

Leave no vegetable un-noodled.

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.

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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."

Inspiralized (adverb): a meal made with spiralized vegetables that's now healthier and more inspired because of it.
Inspiralize Everything

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.

You will not find fried curly fries in Inspiralize Everything. Photo by James Ransom

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 recipes are 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.
Spiralize This!

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.

Zucchini pasta does not equal pasta. Photo by Mark Weinberg

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."

More: Why we need to use the word "healthy" more carefully.

Oh look, it's you again! Photo by James Ransom

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.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Linda
  • Collins
  • Smaug
  • Kim Wong
    Kim Wong
  • ktr
I used to work at Food52. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream.


Linda September 11, 2016
Collins, never say never. I said I'd never give up pasta, bread, etc. But life had other plans and pasta and other high carb foods make me feel awful, once my blood sugar levels rise too high. I'm grateful for a tasty alternative.
ktr September 12, 2016
I agree. I still enjoy making homemade bread on occasion but after giving up pasta, bread, etc and increasing my protein intake, my migraines went from 3-4 per week to once every few months. It is not the solution for everyone but for now it works for me.
Collins September 11, 2016
I have a spiralizer and have used it a few times. It's a fun thing to do with some vegetables, but will Never replace real pasta in my household. So I guess 'Spiralize This' might be of most interest to me, but since I already eat lots of veggies and find wonderful recipes on Food 52 and a few other sites to help me with ideas, I probably don't need either one, and one day that gadget will probably go in the garage sale pile.
Smaug September 11, 2016
Another year, they'll join exercise bikes and salad spinners as an item you can buy off the homeless guy at the corner.
Linda September 11, 2016
I love my spiralizer. I have Type 2 diabetes and the amount of pasta I can eat without a sugar spike is not worth cooking. But I can spiralize zucchini and other vegetables for a low carb meal with my favorite sauces, so for me, the spiralizer does make it easier to eat the meals that are healthy for me and others like me.

But the idea that everyone should switch to healthier spiralized vegetables, as you said the Inspiralized cookbook does, is silly. However, the author pushes the spiralizer to its limits, so if you can ignore the preaching, you can learn a lot about using the equipment from her. I haven't tried Martha Rose Shulman's book, but I will. I love her column in the NYT, but her recipes are usually too high in carbs, so I make adjustments to fit my food plan.
Kim W. September 10, 2016
Love my OXO spiralizer...it's addictive. This may sound romantic and dramatic but we're falling in love with veggies in a new, fun way. It's easy, quick and great with summer's bounty of squash. I haven't purchased any of these cookbooks but I did make a spiralized ratatouille via Cookie and Kate from the Inspiralize Everything book and it was a hit. Long live the spiralizer!
ktr September 10, 2016
One of the best things about the spirilizer for me has been that my 4 year old likes to help with it. He finds it fascinating and loves to try eating anything he makes with it. I thought about just using my apple peeler/slicer, but mine is really difficult to remove the peeler blade on and you only get one size noodles with it. If my spirilizer breaks I may revisit that idea though because I find I don't use the other blades as much.
Laura G. September 9, 2016
Inspiralized's philosophy is what made me avoid buying a spiralizer for so long. When I did finally purchase one, it was because I wanted a new format for zucchini (which I love and grow plenty of).

Schulman's book seems a little more like the recipes I looking for when I committed. Not a 1:1 replacement of zoodles for noodles, but where the texture/shape would add something different to an existing recipe or a flavor profile, allowing for the creation of a new dish in itself.
pierino September 9, 2016
Gag me! Spiralizing is useful up to a point but it's not a life style. I use the KitchenAid attachment from time to time when I need to peel and slice a lot of the same thing for a big meal for ten or more people. Spiralizing can make a salad plate look more interesting but it's not any healthier unless it makes you eat more salad.
702551 September 9, 2016
I stopped buying cookbooks about 10-12 years ago, but even when I was buying them, I found equipment-focused cookbooks to be uninteresting.

As for spiralizers, they have drifted in and out of popularity since the Eighties. Clearly, 2016 is an upcycle year for these gadgets.

If you want to cook healthy, focus on fresh ingredients and ignore gimmicks.
Doug R. September 9, 2016
We haven't purchased a spiralizer, I haven't had anything made with one, and I only know a few people who have them (mainly the ones who buy every new kitchen gadget today, then let it sit until it goes to the church garage sale).

My question is this: Looking at them, I can't tell--what is the difference between this and the spiral apple peeler/slicer/corer that I've been using for the last 20 years (and that my mom has been using for the last 40 (and her mom used her entired married life)) that can also be used to spiral-cut potatoes or whatever by taking the slicer arm out of the way? I'm genuinely curious...
Ali W. September 9, 2016
My problem with these gadget-centered cookbooks (or food blogs), particularly those focused on the spiralizer, is that it does not feel like cooking. I skimmed through the Inspiralize Everything cookbook and felt like it was focused on "assembling" more than actual "cooking", and I don't feel like I need instructions to assemble a "pasta" salad. Kudos to these two women for their obvious hard work and drive, but I personally like cookbooks that show me new cooking techniques and introduce me to ingredients and recipes, allowing me to make substitutions and changes if I want to, as opposed to shutting down those that are not "healthy". Everything in moderation.
Maurina R. September 9, 2016
I don't have the books, but I love my spiralizer, and we are eating more fresh, and more diverse, veg because of it. And whether you're dieting or not, eating more, and different types of veg is nutritionally sound.
Kim W. September 10, 2016
I'm with you on this! Love my spiralizer, don't own any special cookbook for it and don't feel I need it. It's a great way to get more veggies into the diet and I'm not a big gadget person but this one is here to stay.