This "Pasta" Dish Made Me Fall in Love with Veggie Noodles
Are rutabaga noodles the answer to your low-carb pasta cravings?
To put it simply, completing the Whole30 back in January of this year was a struggle. I fought through the sugar cravings, and my stomach thanked me for the lack of dairy. But not having my go-to dinner of spaghetti and vodka sauce to fall back on was much more difficult than I care to admit. I know there are pasta substitutes — I tried everything from zucchini to carrot noodles to help curb my cravings — but after 30 days of unsatisfying meals, I felt confident that no vegetable could ever achieve the tender yet firm texture of a perfectly cooked, al dente noodle.
That was, however, until a recent trip to Olmsted in Brooklyn. Before our reservation, I did what I do before any night at a new restaurant: I perused the menu and snuck a peak at the Instagram feed. The tagliatelle caught my eye for obvious reasons, but it wasn’t until I sat down to order that I realized the prized component of the dish — the noodles — weren’t noodles at all. They were made from rutabaga, a vegetable that I was, admittedly, unfamiliar with. And while I was skeptical, Instagram and my server, Levi, told me this was the dish to get. We ordered a plate for the table, and after a few bites I completely forgot that the thick ribbons of tagliatelle before me (sitting in a bed of brown butter and burgundy black truffle) grew in the ground. Unlike other veggie noodles (I’m looking at you, zucchini), this variety didn’t turn to mush once cooked. The sauce clung on, and the integrity of the “noodle” remained. I devoured most of the shared dish on my own and sang its praises the rest of the night.
In an interview with the New Yorker, Olmsted’s chef and co-owner, Greg Baxtrom, credited the vegetable’s size and low starch content for its ability to maintain a convincing bite. The process — which he explained in the same article as first blanching the noodles in unsalted water then bathing in beurre blanc — made me realize it’s probably not something I’ll be recreating at home anytime soon. But, the creamy rutabaga and rich sauce will certainly having me visiting Olmsted again — maybe even the next time I’m craving pasta.