So, I've had a type of zucchini noodle before, but more in the form of a salad rather that actually replacing a pasta in a main dish. I've been wanting to do this for a while, and finally, about a week and a half ago, I made my first attempt.
There's a little disclaimer on this recipe. It took quite a bit of time, and mine definitely wasn't "perfect." That being said, I think there may be a few of you out there that can take this recipe as a basic guideline and make it your own. In fact, that's how I ended up with this recipe, I found one and tweaked a few things to my liking.
And no, it doesn't replace good ole carb filled pasta, but it actually tastes pretty good and I find it to be a solid alternative for those with gluten allergies, sensitivities, intolerances, or those who just simply go low carb or gluten free.
Here's what you need:
3 Medium Whole Zucchini
1/2 lb Ground Beef
1/2 lb Ground Italian Sausage
2 1/2 Cup Pasta Sauce
1 1/2 Cup Part Skim Ricotta Cheese
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 Large Egg
3-4 Cup Shredded Whole Milk Mozzarella
Brown the meat in a medium skillet. Season as desired.
Matthew made the suggestion of using a little bit of regular burger and a little bit of Italian sausage. I must say that was one of the best things ever, it gave just a little bit of extra flavor. I only used a half pound of each but bought a whole two pounds of meat, cooked it all at the same time, and froze half of it. A few days later we sauteed thinly sliced zucchini and added sauce and meat like a spaghetti. Simple and super yummy!
That being said I don't think it would hurt to add more meat if you wanted. In fact, that may be what I try next time.
While the meat is cooking, slice the zucchini into slices about 1/8" think, lightly salt and set aside. (This is going to be one step to help soak up the water from the zucchini.) Blot with a paper towel after about 10 minutes to remove excess water.
I didn't use anything fancy to slice the zucchini, it wasn't the easiest thing to do and would have definitely benefited from owning a mandoline, but I got the job done!
Another step in removing water from the zucchini is grilling it. Either preheat an outdoor grill, or use an indoor type like I did. The zucchini should be grilled about 2-3 minutes per side or until lightly browned. When done, place on paper towel to soak excess moisture.
I was going to use the gas grill, but Matt wasn't home and I wasn't about to try to figure that thing out myself. Especially when the George Foreman was sitting out in the kitchen already.
When the meat is finished, add the sauce to the skillet to combine and simmer for about 10 minutes.
The recipe I originally found had a homemade sauce, but that was a little too involved for me. Having a canned sauce saved time and did the trick just fine.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium size bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and egg.
In a 9x13 casserole dish, alternate spreading the meat sauce, zucchini, cheese mixture, and mozzarella cheese. This is where I lost all method to my madness and just went with it (it wasn't pretty). I ended up with about three layers. But save some of the mozzarella cheese for later!
The whole putting everything together part was where I started having the "I definitely can't put this on the blog" thoughts. It just seemed way messier than it should have been and I really am in no way, shape, or form, a proficient cook. I decided to post anyways because it did end up turning out well and figured each of you could try your own things to try to make it work for you.
The next time I make this I probably won't use a 9x13 pan because it was hard to spread everything out and have enough zucchini, and because it ended up making SO MUCH. There may have to be some recipe manipulation if I make it again so that I don't end up eating it three days in a row.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 20 minutes. Add the last cup or so of mozzarella to the top and place back into the oven to melt for about 10 minutes.
This stuff comes out HOTTTTT! Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before digging in.
Like I said, its no pasta, but for the low carb, gluten free type, it does the trick!