Toast Your Spaghetti

When I hear that someone dislikes a food, especially a nutritious one, I take this as a challenge to find a way to change their mind.  I have found over the years it is typically the preparation of the item that causes the dislike, not necessarily the food itself so changing this up can mean the difference between “no, thank you” and seconds. I dislike the idea of sneaking foods in, although I have a two-year-old and sometimes adding some veggies in a spaghetti sauce to bump up the veggie intake is the way it must be. The “sneaker” part of the title of this series is more in reference to sneaky ways of preparing more nutritious foods, not trying to hide an item so someone tries it unknowingly.

I am a food lover and see myself as fairly adventurous when it comes to trying less typical items. So, when I hear of someone disliking a food, I like to look at the way it was prepared or paired. I find a ton of pleasure in finding ways to prepare foods to change a “dislike” into a “like.” Added bonus if it is a nutritious food that can make its way on the “like” list.  

When my husband and I met he had a lot of dislikes on his food list, but for better or worse (see what I did there), I took this as a personal challenge to change his mind. While I haven’t cracked the code to get him eating roasted cauliflower yet, there are several kitchen tricks I have tried that have gotten him to not just eat but enjoy many of the foods he used to respectfully decline. Here is one: whole-wheat pasta.

I will be honest, not all whole-wheat pasta is created equal according to my pallet. Generally, folks dislike the texture more than anything else, and the texture can be weird or downright bad. I have found that thinner pastas or mixed white/wheat tend to lessen the texture issues, but the best “hack” and the one that finally got my husband to enjoy whole-wheat pasta, was buying spaghetti and toasting it. 

Yup, that’s right, I toast the whole-wheat spaghetti in the oven before I cook it.  Here’s my method:

  • Place your oven rack in the highest position and turn on your oven to broil (high).
  • Lay ½ lb. of whole-wheat spaghetti on a rimmed baking sheet, flat and in a single layer (or as close as you can get it to one layer).
  • Broil until golden-brown, turning the pasta with a spatula halfway through (10 minutes). 
  • Take the pasta out and cook like you normally would in boiling water.

It’s super easy. You can do this ahead or make sure you do this while your water is coming to a boil to reduce your stove-to-table time. Sometimes I will sprinkle a little olive oil and chopped garlic on there as I toast it as well, but typically I just toast them as is.

Here are some recipes that this method works well for. Including the toasted whole-wheat pasta gives the dish a nutty flavor and, of course, most of us could use more whole grains in our diet.

Peanut-Lime Pasta

Peanut-Lime Pasta

Two Guiding Stars iconTwo Guiding Stars indicate better nutritional value. This recipe is an awesome way to flavor broccoli, so bonus if that's a food you struggle to encourage your family to try.

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Turkey Tetrazzini

Turkey Tetrazzini

Two Guiding Stars iconTwo Guiding Stars indicate better nutritional value. The mushroom and Swiss cheese in here pair especially nicely with toasted whole-wheat spaghetti.

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Spaghetti Cabbage Stir Fry

Spaghetti Cabbage Stir Fry

Two Guiding Stars iconTwo Guiding Stars indicate better nutritional value. This recipes is dead simple and mixes up your grains with some greens, which can also be a challenge to eat enough of.

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