I feel like so many recipe headlines I see lately scream “THIS DINNER IS FAST” “BREAKFAST READY 12 SECONDS OR LESS” “MAKE A 5-COURSE MEAL IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE,” and it upsets me. No one has time for real food, and many won’t even click on a recipe unless it specifically is titled “X minutes or less”—even though, had they bothered to scroll down, they would’ve seen that the total time clearly states “25 minutes.”
An article published last month called out the most popular food of the past forty years, and 2016’s was simply “viral food.” We literally don’t care about what we’re eating anymore as long as it’s trending. Food editors have to consider such things, because food media is a business, and online businesses have to listen to the metrics, or they will die. But we also should be brave enough to change the conversation sometimes, and maybe the clickers will follow.
So many people don’t want to learn how to dice an onion, yet loudly want you to know how much of a “foodie” they are because they went to a restaurant other than Señor Frog’s to celebrate #nationaltequiladay. They look at beautifully-styled vegan smoothie bowls on Instagram and read every article about sweet potato toast, then go home to defrost pre-chopped vegetables and bake a boneless, skinless chicken breast. It’s disappointing, because everyone can do more.
This recipe is a product of lots of chopping, but also incorporates spiral slicing vegetables into noodles. Which yes, is one of those viral foods I was passing judgement on mere moments ago—though I do NOT call them “zoodles,” because gross. Really, I’m not a hypocrite; I do think there are certain edible trends that take off for a good reason. People love pasta and hate vegetables, so when a trend makes veg as fun to eat (and as neutral-tasting as) pasta, you get people who’ve never bought a zucchini in their lives excited to go to the produce aisle. That’s amazing. But then there are trends like the rainbow grilled cheese and the goddamn avocado burger bun (which everyone seems to be really excited about, and which I honestly just do. not. get. Weren’t burgers already messy enough? How do you literally EAT a five inch-tall sandwich?? Don’t we already put avocados on burgers? Does this mean the lettuce-wrap is over?) that just make no sense. People only care about them because everyone else seems to. It’s like middle school all over again, and I’m not about it.
There are certain things about food we should care about, things that should be going viral. Enough to eat for dinner tonight. A farmer’s market coming to your town. Make these things trendy, and the food world will get better. Instagram the dinner you cooked with your friends! Tweet about your fresh vegetables! Write a click-bait-y article about chef’s knife safety! You get the gist.
Veg Noodles With Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives, and Spinach (serves 4-6)
2 large zucchini
2 small yellow squash
2 large red onions
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 pint orange grape tomatoes
2 large cloves of garlic
large handful of fresh basil
a few tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Good pinch Kosher salt
Lots of fresh black pepper
5 ounces baby spinach (about 2 cups)
Feta, for serving
Slice the zucchini, squash, and beet into noodles with a spiral slicer (or veg peeler, julienne peeler, etc.)
Roughly chop the onions and olives, thinly slice the tomatoes and garlic, and chiffonade the basil (reserving a few tablespoons for serving).
Heat a large wok pan over medium and pour in a few glugs of olive oil. Add onions and garlic and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add veg noodles, olives, tomatoes, and basil. Cook for 2-3 minutes; then add wine, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add spinach and cook just until the greens wilt.
Serve with reserved basil and crumbled fresh feta.