A couple years ago, my vegan friend took me to a restaurant in Seattle that served a dish consisting of raw zucchini spirals. These “vegetable noodles” were a novelty then, mostly appreciated by health nuts and vegetarians. But word got out and now everyone from food bloggers to talk shows is touting this wholesome alternative to starch.
Of course, there has to be a tool to meet the needs of all these healthy eaters. Enter the spiral slicer, the new, must-have kitchen gadget that’s like a meat grinder for vegetables. Hand operated and simple in design, spiral slicers turn firm vegetables into “noodles” you can use in salads, sautés and faux-pasta dishes.
Since I’m also a health nut, this is one of my dream tools, so I took home two different models to try out and compare: the Sur La Table Vegetable and Fruit Slicer and the GEFU Spirelli Spiral Slicer.
As you can see by the photos, they’re quite different. The Sur La Table model has a hand crank that reminds me of an old-fashioned apple peeler. You put your vegetable in the vise, tighten and turn the crank to create long vegetable ribbons. It also comes with three interchangeable blades to create different textures. For the Curry Shrimp with Vegetable Noodles recipe I was making, I used the thin spiral blade for spaghetti-like noodles. It was easy to use but I had to cut the zucchini in half, as it took too long to spiral a whole one. Yellow squash didn’t do so well. Its pear-like shape made it harder to spiral so I also had to cut it into smaller pieces.
In comparison, the handheld GEFU looks like a pencil sharpener. You put your vegetable inside, twist and the noodles fall out. Because of its small size, thinner zucchinis work best. Also, the noodles didn’t separate as cleanly as they did with the Sur La Table model. On the plus side, its smaller size makes it easier to transport and store. But you only get one blade so fewer options for noodle size.
For hygiene, I found both models easy to clean, although I did use a small wire brush to lift off noodle bits stuck on the GEFU blade, which is not removable. With the Sur La Table model, you simply remove the blades from the plastic unit then rinse and air-dry both.
After trying both spiral slicers, I decided I liked the Sur La Table model better. It’s on the bulkier side, but it makes nice-shaped noodles compared to the GEFU. I also liked the option of having different blades for different noodle shapes. On the other hand, its larger size may not be desirable for kitchens with limited space; the GEFU would be the better choice for people with less kitchen space who don’t spiralize frequently.
No matter which slicer you choose, there are endless options for eating spiralized veggies. I added my freshly cut noodles to a curry shrimp sauté for a crunchy, nutritious alternative to rice. You can also spiralize carrot, beet and other firm vegetables. For optimal cooking results, add vegetable noodles at the end of the cooking time to retain their nutrients and crunchiness.
Have you tried a spiralizer? What do you think of them?
To learn about more about these time saving prep tools, see Spiralizers: Equipment 101.