Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Zucchini Pasta - I made it and I LOVED it!

I work with a bunch of young lawyers in my office who are about the age of my older daughter.  They are most always a complete joy to work around.  I'm not a fan of working outside my home and I often PROTEST to my family loudly my dislike for working LOL, but the people I work with are the best!

I have worked a very long time- just about 30 years long to be exact!  It seems like times are a changing.  Used to, everyone ate out for lunch.  They ate fast food, grocery store take-out, and some even went to sit down restaurants and diners.  Lately, LOTS of my friends at work bring lunch from home, even these young men lawyers!  Gotta love that!

I am always intrigued by the cooking skills of these young men.  They are making their moms and dads proud, obviously!  My husband, who just turned 50, would NEVER be bringing his own cooking for lunch, nor would it be anything close to the delicious and well balanced meals, heavy on vegetables, that these young men are cooking!

Today, I was pleasantly surprised when I got a look at one such lunch.  Although "C" didn't cook it himself this time, it looked super yummy! He brought zucchini pasta swimming in a delicious sauce of ground turkey, chunky tomatoes, and other veges.  A friend had made it for him with a special kitchen gadget (spiral cutter) that cut the zucchini in long strands like pasta. Mmmmm.. I wanted to know more! 

Over lunch, I browsed my favorite blogs and found a post by one of my first-favorite bloggers:  The Hillbilly Housewife.  Of course, she would save the day!  Not only did she give my actual inspiration, but her post and recipe (FOUND HERE) explained that I could use something I already had at home to make the long strands of zucchini pasta- no special equipment needed!  A vegetable peeler!  Cool beans!  I was trying it.

I made a quick sauce tonight after work using ground beef, garden fresh tomatoes, canned mushrooms, garlic and basil.  I used my vegetable peeler to make long strands from a huge peeled zucchini.  My dinner was DELICIOUS!  Did it taste exactly like spaghetti?  I have to confess-no.  It did not taste like spaghetti pasta.  Was it delicious and everything I hoped it to be?  Yes, yes & YES!  I love squash!  I love everything about it!  I also LOVE spaghetti sauce.  I knew this was a recipe I was going to love.

This recipe reminded me of cabbage rolls in texture.  Of course, it didn't taste like cabbage - I used zucchini.  But the texture if you're wondering - was similar to a plate full of cabbage rolls. 

Here's how I made Zucchini Pasta with Garden Fresh Tomato/Mushroom Sauce AT HOME MY WAY:

Zucchini Pasta with Garden Fresh Tomato/Mushroom Sauce
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 3 extra large garden fresh tomatoes - equal to about 3 cups of chopped tomatoes (peeled); or 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can of mushrooms, stems & pieces - drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • **OPTIONAL:  You could use a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce instead of making your own if you prefer.  You could use chopped Italian sausage instead of ground beef.  You could probably even make it a meatless dish if that's your thing!
In a large skillet, brown ground beef until completely done - juices all clear; and drain well.
Add peeled & chopped tomatoes and other ingredients/spices, as well as some salt & pepper (or use a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce instead of making your own here). 
Simmer on medium about 15-20 minutes until thick (without a lid).
Meanwhile, peel your zucchini - running the vegetable peeler lengthwise on your zucchini, cut into ribbons of zucchini until you think you have enough for your sauce. 
If making the homemade sauce, let it cook 15-20 minutes without a lid until it thickens up nicely.  Give it a taste and make sure it has enough salt.  If not, just heat the jarred sauce with the meat in the skillet until thick.
Once the sauce is thick, add the uncooked zucchini pasta ribbons.  Stir gently and let simmer 10 minutes or so, or until the zucchini is sauce and getting translucent.
OK.  All done!  Get out some plates and the shaky cheese (parmesan).
Dig in!

I just went round and round my big old zucchini with a vegetable peeler so as not to get into the seeds/center.  With the remaining zucchini, I grated it and placed 3 cups in a freezer bag, for using in a future batch of zucchini bread.
The fresh tomatoes and mushrooms, and spices, added to the skillet will not look right at first.  But stir, and let it simmer.  This will cook into a wonderful, rich sauce!
Ready for dinner!  Come & get it!


Scraped clean!  Delish!


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