Thursday, July 17, 2014

Homemade Chunky Mushroom, Tomato, and Meat Sauce with Zucchini Noodles

So I'm on Day 11 of the Whole 30, and am actually really enjoying it!  I never expected to make it this far, but I am seeing results which is incredibly motivating to keep going, and not  go back to the carb-loaded eating habits I was relying on before.  NOW...that is not to say that I haven't missed chips, and ice cream, and bread (ohhhh....bread...), but I have just resisted the urges, and focused on food that I can have, and cooking new recipes, which I always enjoy.

Spaghetti is as close to a staple in our house as you can get.  I really like to eat a wide variety of foods and lots of different meals, but the kids love spaghetti, and always eat it, so we have it about twice a month or so.  But since jarred pasta sauce is loaded with sugar (something I didn't know until recently, and something I'd been feeding my family and eating regularly!), and I can't have pasta on Whole 30, I decided to make my own pasta sauce, and though I served the kids and Scott regular spaghetti noodles, I made zucchini noodles for myself.  Today, I'm going to share with you my very easy recipe if you'd like to avoid the jarred sauce route for your family as well!

Here's What You'll Need for the Sauce:

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt and pepper
pint of cherry tomatoes (preferably from farmer's market or your own garden!)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 green pepper, diced
14 oz can of tomato sauce (I used the Red Gold brand, which does not have any added sugar)
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 lb ground beef
1 bunch fresh basil 

And Here's What You Do:

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Place your cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper.  Roast for about 30-45 minutes, until tomatoes begin to shrivel and pop.

Meanwhile, add the remaining oil to a medium saute pan.  Add in your onion, garlic, and green pepper, and saute over medium high, stirring regularly, until the onion is soft and translucent and the garlic is very fragrant.  Transfer to a blender, and set aside.  In the same saute pan, add your ground beef, and saute until cooked and browned.  Drain fat and add mushrooms.  Cook mushrooms with beef until mushrooms are softened.

When I made this, I cooked my green pepper with my beef and mushrooms only because I forgot to add it with the onions and garlic!  But I think it's better to be added earlier with the onions and garlic. :)

When your cherry tomatoes are done in the oven, add them into the blender with the onion mixture, and also add your can of tomato sauce.  Pulse in your blender until all ingredients come together and create a smooth (or as smooth as you want) sauce.

Add your tomato sauce mixture to the saute pan (or another pot, in my case!) with the beef and mushrooms.  Add freshly chopped basil and stir to combine.

Don't mind Mickey there on the floor helping me with dinner :) 

And with that, your sauce is done!  It's that easy!  Nothing to it but sauteing some veggies and browning ground beef.  You can eat it over regular pasta, or you can try zucchini noodles!

Here's What You Need for the Zucchini Noodles:

1 zucchini
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper

The key to making the zucchini noodles is a little gadget called a spiralizer.  The one I got (from Wal Mart- one of the "as seen on tv" products) is shaped just like an hourglass, and you just twist your zucchini (or whatever other veggie!) in the top of the spiralizer, and it cuts it into pasta-like noodle ribbons.  It works awesome!!  You will need one zucchini per person.

Once your zucchini noodles are cut, heat a saute pan over medium heat, and add in your oil.  once the oil is heated, add in your noodles.  Move them around in the pan, and continue to move them so they don't get burned.  After about 3 or 4 minutes (maybe not even that long?), the zucchini softens but still stays al dente; perfect for eating with sauce.  Season with salt and pepper, remove from the pan and put directly on your plate, and douse in sauce!  ENJOY!

I hope you'll try this recipe for a future family dinner!  I thought the zucchini noodles were really delicious.  Do they taste like pasta?  No.  But you get the idea, and you can eat a very healthy version of this family favorite and not feel one single bit guilty.  I mean, you're eating a whole zucchini by yourself, not to mention all the deliciousness in the sauce!  This would be a great sauce to make in bulk, and I am so anxious to try the zucchini noodles as a base for other meals.  I can definitely see a bed of zucchini noodles under some grilled salmon in the future!

Let me know what you think, and I hope you enjoy!

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