Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday's "Pasta" w/ Quick Meat & Summer Veggie Sauce

Well, this evening I tried a new kind of pasta that I've been wanting to try for a while now.  I must say, it was absolutely delicious and so simple to make.  You could definitely say it was "fresh pasta"...but not what you are thinking of, I bet.  As you already know if you read this blog with any regularity...we really LOVE fresh vegetables (and fruit).  It is a large chunk of our grocery bill every week.  You might also know (if you read this blog) that at the moment, I am eliminating wheat, gluten and most grains from my diet to see if it helps some of my autoimmune issues I've been having.   So, with that in mind...can you guess what ingredient I used to make my "Zucchi-cini"???  No, I did not misspell zucchini...it is my new word for "zucchini fettucini".  Fettucini is thin ribbons of pasta...mine are thin ribbons of zucchini...hence "Zucchi-cini".  I made a quick, delicious thick and rich meat and summer veggie sauce to serve over my "pasta".  It wasn't just good...it was awesome...and I wouldn't lie to you!  Now of course, if you have a particular aversion to zucchini...then maybe this wouldn't be the pasta for you...but zucchini is so mild and almost tasteless by itself, much the way plain pasta is...that it really made a terrific backdrop for the sauce.  I snapped a couple pics below as well as my recipe for the Zucchi-cini and Quick Meat & Summer Veggie Sauce.  Enjoy!

Zucchi-cini waiting to be sauteed.
Browned meat and veggies waiting to be "sauced".
Love this brand of sauces...this one has no added sugar.
In case you are wondering...YES, it tastes as good as it looks!!!


3-4 medium-large zucchinis (depending how many servings you want to make)
Olive oil
Salt, optional

Cut off the top and bottom of the zucchinis.  Using a vegetable peeler (the kind you peel potatoes or carrots with) and holding the zucchini very carefully so you don't scrape your fingers, slice ribbons of zucchini lengthwise until you get to the seeded center , then rotate the zucchini repeating this all the way around until you have just the seedy center core remaining (you can either toss the center core or use it for something else like soup, etc.).  Set your zucchini ribbons aside in a bowl until you've made the amount of "pasta" you want to make.  In a non-stick medium to large skillet, drizzle about a tablespoon (or more if you like) of olive oil in the pan and heat on medium high just until the pan is heated well.  Toss in your zucchi-cini (sprinkle with a little salt if desired) and lightly sautee the "pasta" for a few minutes until it is the consistency you want it.  You don't want to cook it too long or your pasta will fall apart.  You want it to be "al dente".  Serve immediately, covered with your favorite sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Note:  Many zucchini noodle recipes call for boiling the noodles in water.  I have never ever cooked any zucchini with any water.  I think zucchini is much better when lightly cooked and if moistness is needed, cover it to steam in its own moisture a bit (they sweat out their own juices)...unless of course you really like the sound and feeling of "boiled zucchini" squeaking in your teeth when you eat it...personally I equate that sound/feeling to fingernails on a chalkboard.
Quick Meat & Summer Veggie Sauce

1/2 pound of lean ground beef (I used ground sirloin)
3 medium yellow summer squash, sliced or diced
1 medium zucchini, sliced or diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced finely
1 medium size jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I used DelGrosso's Sunday Marinara)
Few dashes of cayenne pepper, optional

In a medium sized dutch oven or pot, brown your ground beef.  Add diced carrots to the browned beef and cover and cook on low about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the carrots have softened a bit, add yellow squash and zucchini, continuing to cook while stirring frequently.  Cover the meat and veggie mixture and cook on medium until the veggies are tender but not overcooked or mushy.  Pour jar of sauce over the meat and veggies; add cayenne and stir well.  Cover and simmer on low for about 20-25 minutes to let everything mingle a bit (and give you time to make/cook the pasta).  Serve sauce over the pasta of your choice; sprinkle with Parmesan and fresh basil, if desired.

Note:  You could easily add more or less meat or substitute turkey or chicken for the beef.  You could also omit the meat altogether if you don't eat meat.  You could add other veggies too such as mushrooms, onions, etc.  I like DelGrosso's Sunday Marinara because it is made with all natural ingredients and there is no sugar added.  This can easily be customized and personalized to suit your own personal tastes.  It's a pretty quick meal to put together, especially on busy work and school nights.

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