Traditional spaghetti was a primary staple in my university diet. At least a once-a-week meal that we would eat, reheat and eat over the course of two days. Not very exciting to say the least; but hearty and affordable. During my 4th and final year of undergrad school, I moved into a brand new residence that had just opened on campus; it boasted bedroom suites, a shared washroom and a common kitchen shared only by two people. It was the dream; as I was pretty tired of eating from food vendors on campus. Not that I didn’t enjoy the myriad of options, but after years of breakfast/lunch/dinner outside you just can’t see or smell the same food court anymore. Meal card hiatus went into effect!
With time, I tweaked & upped my spaghetti game to include gourmet salsa, premium pasta, and real, aged cheese. Before I quit white pasta altogether; I was making my own blender marinara and eating spaghetti by the pound. Ok, maybe not quite by the pound. But I was sure piling them on! I moved on to whole wheat spaghetti with the same, discouraging results. It finally clicked that wheat and I are simply not friends. Joint pain and weight gain opened my eyes; and as all of you who read this blog know, I live happily wheat and gluten free and always aim to recreate & reinvent my favorite meals. So spaghetti was next on the list!
Soba noodles are an excellent low-carb, low-sugar alternative to traditional pasta. Think of them as pasta with half the calories. They look very similar to whole wheat spaghetti as they have a bit of a darker color, but they’re lighter, naturally gluten free and thigh-friendly. I promise. They are easy to cook and made from an ancient grain that’s made a steadfast return: buckwheat. Don’t let the name fool you; there’s no wheat in buckwheat. You could eat these noodles with your favorite pasta sauce, my only word of caution is to check the sugar content. What makes bottled pasta sauce “diet unfriendly” is the amount of hidden sugars in it. That’s what keeps the highly acidic tomatoes from well, tasting acidic. When I make my own sauce, instead of adding white sugar I now add 1-2 tbsp of raw natural agave. I found this natural, unrefined sweetener works best than all the other alternatives. Coconut sugar and spaghetti don’t mix- so don’t even bother trying it in marinara sauce. (From the person who tried different measurements until giving up).
Soba Noodle Spaghetti with Roasted Tomato & Garlic Sauce
- 1 package of buckwheat soba noodles ( I like Eden Organics)
- 1 pot full of enough water to cover the noodles
- sea salt & ground pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
For the sauce:
- 2-3 finely crushed garlic cloves
- 4 large organic tomatoes
- 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt & pepper to taste
- 1-2 tbsp of chopped, fresh basil (optional)
- tip: if the tomatoes are slightly acidic, add 1 tsp of raw agave syrup to sweeten the sauce.
- For the noodles: bring the pot of water to a boil, throw the soba noodles in. Ensure they’re all fully covered in water. Add the 1 tbsp of olive oil and sea salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Reduce to medium heat and cook for about 5-8 minutes or until fully softened. I always set my oven timer to monitor them.
- Drain the noodles over the sink and throw them into a pot of cold water. This cold water bath is the difference between perfect or soggy, clumpy noodles. Not icy cold water, just cold water. Rub the noodles in the water gently as if to separate the clumps. This gives them firmness and most importantly, keeps them from sticking together. In washing them post cooking, you’re also riding yourself of excess starch. Bonus.
- For the sauce: set the oven to 375F and line a cookie sheet or baking tray with parchment paper. Set the four tomatoes on it and sprinkle with sea salt and ground black pepper to taste. Add the 2 tbsp of olive oil ensuring to coat all tomatoes. I let them roast for about 20 mins, all ovens vary. I then use a large fork to “mash them” and on the inside they should be overflowing with juice and pulp which makes the most natural sauce. I add the minced garlic, the olive oil, any additional condiments (if needed) and mix with the noodles. Top with fresh basil before serving. Enjoy this simple, but incredibly delicious meal!