Any time you can swap out a carb for fresh vegetables and still end up with a delicious meal, you’re doing pretty well for yourself. That’s what we did with this zucchini noodle dish in which thin-cut sauteed zucchini takes the place of noodles in one of our go-to pasta dishes. The result was a dish that had all the comfort of the original in a much more healthy form.
This is also a great way to get kids who are less than enthused about vegetables to them to give them a try. You’re don’t have to trick them into eating a vegetable by disguising it, you can simply present a vegetable in a form that’s more palatable to them. Our daughter does reasonably well with vegetables for a child of her age, but she’s definitely not a zucchini fan. But when we set these zucchini noodles down in front of her, they didn’t last long.
Marinara with Sausage over Zucchini Noodles
For the marinara with sausage
1 lb. Italian pork sausage, sliced into 1/2″ wide coins
1 red onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
1 quart whole peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup minced fresh herbs such as basil or parsley
drizzle balsamic vinegar or wine
Heat a wide, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage coins, and cook until they are browned nicely on both sides, about 7 – 10 minutes. Remove the sausage from the skillet and set aside in a bowl, pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. With skillet still over medium-high heat, cook the onion until translucent, then add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the tomatoes, squeezing each whole tomato with your hand as you add it. Add the sausage. Heat everything until bubbling vigorously, and then turn heat to low.
Continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 minutes, but up to 2 hours for optimal thickness and flavor.
Just before serving, add the minced herbs (saving just a few for garnish), adjust salt levels, add the splash of vinegar or wine, and a few twists of fresh ground pepper.
For the zucchini noodles
3 – 4 large zucchini
1 – 2 tablespoons olive oil
Trim the top and bottom form the zucchini. Using a sharp vegetable peeler, mandoline, or julienne peeler, shave or slice the “noodles” from the zucchini up to the seeded core. You will have quite a bit of the seeded section of the zucchini left over, as well as a meaty part above and below — set them aside for another use.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place two large handfuls of the “noodles” in the skillet, sprinkle with a big pinch of sea salt, and saute for 2 – 3 minutes, removing the zucchini just before they release their water. Continue to cook the remaining zucchini in batches, until is is all cooked. Cooking in batches will keep the zucchini from getting too soggy or releasing too much water. You may need to add an additional drizzle of olive oil between batches.
To serve, place noodles in a large, wide bowl, and ladle several spoonfuls of sauce over top. Finish with a sprig of fresh herbs and a twist of pepper.