Vegetable could be healthy “spag bog” alternative

Vegetable could be healthy “spag bog” alternative


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CROP ON: Woodstock farmer, Shane Rost, with a crop of vegetable spaghetti, a product he says could become a popular super food.

CROP ON: Woodstock farmer, Shane Rost, with a crop of vegetable spaghetti, a product he says could become a popular super food.

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In an increasingly health-conscious country that still loves its food, vegetable spaghetti could be the next super food.

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IT sounds almost too good to be true - spaghetti from inside a vegetable.

That's what vegetable spaghetti, or vegetable squash, is.

And Queensland grower Shane Rost reckons it could be the next big thing in food trends if only he could get more of it on Aussie dinner plates.

Mr Rost produces about 5 tonnes of vegetable spaghetti from his 20 hectare (50 acre) farm at Woodstock, west of Townsville with his wife, Trinh, and their young children.

ALTERNATIVE: Roasted and ready, vegetable spaghetti looks, acts and when served with sauce, tastes like regular pasta.

ALTERNATIVE: Roasted and ready, vegetable spaghetti looks, acts and when served with sauce, tastes like regular pasta.

That might not be the biggest output but he has trouble selling it all despite the vegetable's marketable attributes.

For the uninitiated, vegetables spaghetti (Cucurbita pep var. fastigata) is a dark yellow to creamy melon-looking vegetable, about the size of a butternut pumpkin, that when cut and roasted, can be "forked out" into long strands of material resembling pasta.

It has been described as a neutral flavour which some regard as an advantage as it takes on the flavour of whatever sauce is placed on it, making it a practical alternative to traditional pasta.

Mr Rost said one of the key drawcards to it is that it could be marketed as a low carbohydrate switch for traditional wheat pasta.

LOW DOWN: Resembling a standard pumpkin, vegetable spaghetti grows on a low vine.

LOW DOWN: Resembling a standard pumpkin, vegetable spaghetti grows on a low vine.

He also said it could help parents of fussy children who won't eat vegetables but would be happy to consume noodles or pasta.

He said the foodie culture and "Masterchef effect" could be the secret to getting the vegetable more widely used.

"It's going to take a while. I contacted My Kitchen Rules to supply some but I didn't hear back from them," he said.

"Nobody knew what kale was before it was on My Kitchen Rules and all of a sudden it was everywhere."

It seems the closest the vegetable came to prime-time promotion was when Ed "Fast Ed" Halmagyi used it during a June episode this year as a key ingredient in a recipe on Better Homes & Gardens.

He used the vegetable while cooking at the Orange Show (NSW) within a roasted prawn and spinach salad.

"It really is the most incredible vegetable - all these natural strands, it's fantastic," Halmagyi said while scraping out the inside of a roasted product.

"Now we've got to get more people eating more spaghetti squash from right here in Orange."

Mr Rost said he grew up eating it and was surprised there wasn't more of it around.

A request from a local greengrocer saw him decide to establish the crop a few years ago.

He sourced seeds from a Townsville gardener and continues to use his own seeds for crop establishment.

The vegetable doesn't tolerate overly wet conditions and fungus can be a problem but Mr Rost this can be controlled if it's dealt with early on.

With the warmer months on the way, Mr Rost is coming towards the end of his vegetable spaghetti season which started in January.

He will now turn his focus to his mango and melon crops.

Even within these crops Mr Rost is trying to think outside the square, growing the dark-red skinned Palmer mango variety, and the yellow Champagne variety of watermelon.

Despite the hard-sell, Mr Rost said he was intent on keeping on with the crop, increasing his output each year.

"I seem to chop more of it in than I sell which is heartbreaking," he said.

Mr Rost said he was looking for a wholesaler who would be interested in helping sell the vegetable on a commercial scale. 

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