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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

{happy food} zucchini 'spaghetti' (gluten free + out of this world)

There are some people who like pasta for pasta itself, the delicious thin ribbons of dough with that firm al dente bite. Then there are people who view pasta more as a carrier for sauce the same way coffee is a vehicle for cream and sugar. I am in this second group. 

Sure, pasta is terrific but to me, it's all about the sauce that clings to every bite. What do you do though if you're trying to stay away from pasta, from the gluten, the carbs and calories? Simple. You stay away from pasta.

Or. . .

Lately I've been experimenting with gluten-free pasta from corn to corn and rice and quinoa based pastas. Yes, they are all gluten-free but the calories were still high. I wondered what else we could use that would have the same mouth feel but with significantly less calories. Could I use vegetables as a substitute for flour-based pasta? I did some research online and found a kitchen gadget called the Paderno World Cuisine Spiral Vegetable Slicer (Amazon, $35.96, 4 1/2 stars and 1000+ reviews). Using this hand-crank machine, you place a vegetable like a summer squash or zucchini on a spiked holder, turn the handle and as the vegetable pushes against one of three different blades, you get thin spaghetti-like ribbons. 

I decided to try it for the first time last night. It took no more than 5 minutes to completely slice 4 large summer squash. It was easy and most importantly, safe. The blades and your fingers never come in contact with each other which is great if you tend to me a little accident-prone in the kitchen (like me). Piled high on a plate, the summer squash looked exactly like spaghetti. Would it taste the same? It did. EXACTLY the same as traditional spaghetti. Will your kids eat it? Absolutely. Will your partner who doesn't like vegetables eat it? Yes. It's that good. Here's how to make it.

{recipe} Zucchini (Summer Squash) 'Spaghetti' 
with Marinara Sauce
(serves two)

Marinara Sauce

This is my go-to marinara sauce. It's great on pasta or as a dipping sauce. With only four ingredients it's easy, healthy and super quick. You'll never buy jarred pasta sauce again. I love the Dorot frozen spices. They are available at Whole Foods and other markets in the frozen section. 

This sauce can also serve as a base for Bolognese or Arabiatta sauces. Just add meat and spices.

1 can or Tetrapack of chopped tomato sauce (I used Pomi 26 oz.)
4 cubes frozen Dorot basil
4 cubes frozen Dorot garlic
Splash of olive oil (1 teaspoon)
Salt and pepper to taste

Pour tomato sauce in pot on medium-high. Add basil and garlic cubes and splash of olive oil. Stir. Lower to simmer while you cook the zucchini 'pasta'.

Zucchini or Summer Squash Pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 medium size squash slices into spaghetti-like strands 

Add oil to large saute pan set to medium-high. Toss in squash, using tongs to coat all the squash in olive oil. 

Saute 5 minutes, tossing often until al dente (cooked through but firm).

Divide squash onto two plates, top with marinara sauce and Parmesan. 

Enjoy your healthy alternative to pasta!

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