How could we have lived without you all these years? You are a gluten-free foodie’s best friend, turning our favorite vegetables into long noodle-like swirls. Could zucchini really be a substitute for spaghetti? We asked the question with trepidation when we tried our first bowl of zucchini noodles. And we really can’t describe how excited we were to discover that these ribbons of cooked zucchini (zoodles!) are tender, slightly crunchy, and absolutely delicious tossed with our favorite sauces.
If you haven’t already noticed, we’re kind of obsessed with our new 4-blade spiralizer from Paderno World Cuisine. It’s a snap to assemble, use, and clean. A wonderful tool for the gluten-free kitchen, and a great gift for anyone you know who loves to cook. We’ve made zoodles with gluten free meatballs covered in a beautiful marinara sauce. And several weeks ago we served up our zoodles with a homemade clam sauce. The other day we decided to try making them accompanied by a savory Bolognese sauce. The result? Well, we’ll just say that there wasn’t one zoodle left on our plates.
Our Bolognese sauce is a quick and simple twist on the classic Italian meat-based, red sauce. In Bologna, where it originated, three different kinds of ground meat – usually beef, lamb, and veal – are browned beforehand while sautéing vegetables and herbs. Then, they are all mixed together with pureed tomatoes in a pot that simmers for hours (sometimes overnight) on the stove. But the day we made this sauce, it was snowing outside, and we couldn’t wait until the next day to enjoy this warm and savory dish. So this is our super-easy, super-fast, super-delicious version using just ground beef.
First, we made the zoodles with our spiralizer. This kitchen gadget is very easy and very fun to use, but you might get a little workout depending on how many zucchini you slice. We usually find that long and fat zucchini make the best zoodles, and it is also important to keep the zucchini centered inside the spiralizer.
When you’re finished slicing, place the spiralized zucchini in a colander and toss with salt until they are coated. Place the colander in a shallow bowl for twenty to thirty minutes while the zoodles release their moisture. Then, pat dry with paper towels.
Now it’s time to prepare the sauce! First, we sauté the onion, garlic, carrot and celery in oil in a large skillet. Next, we add the beef to the sautéed vegetables, season with salt, and cook stirring frequently, until the meat has browned. Then, we add tomato puree, tomato paste, a bay leaf, salt, and oregano to taste.
And that’s it. We cover the skillet and let it simmer over low heat until the sauce thickens. As the sauce cooks, it fills the whole house with the most intoxicatingly wonderful fragrance that has our mouths watering even before we’ve had a chance to taste it.
All that’s left to do is cook the zoodles. Pat them with paper towels again to remove any moisture. Then heat two tablespoons of olive oil in another skillet. Add three cloves of chopped garlic and cook until fragrant. Then toss in the zoodles. Once the zoodles are cooked, let them sit for a few minutes to allow any excess water to be released before draining them.
Serve the zoodles immediately in a bowl covered in the hearty Bolognese sauce. You may top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, but this is optional. Buon Appetito!
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- For Zoodles
- 6 medium zucchini
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- For Bolognese Sauce
- 1 pound ground beef
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree (Muir Glen is organic and gluten free)
- 1 (6- ounce) tomato paste (Muir Glen is organic and gluten free)
- 1 dried bay leaf
- parmesan cheese to taste (optional)
- Prepare Zoodles: Cut zucchini into zoodles using a spiralizer. Place the spiralized zucchini in a colander and toss with the salt until coated. Place colander in a shallow bowl for 20 - 30 minutes while zoodles release their moisture, then pat dry with paper towels.
- Prepare Bolognese Sauce: In a large skillet, heat the oil over a medium-low flame. Add onion, garlic, carrot and celery and saute on low, about 5 minutes. Add meat, season with salt and cook stirring frequently, until meat has browned, about 10 minutes. Add tomato puree, tomato paste, bay leaf, salt, oregano to taste. Simmer covered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about ½ hour. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
- Cook Zoodles: When the zoodles are ready to cook, pat them with paper towels. Then heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in another skillet. Add 3 cloves of chopped garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add zoodles (zucchini), and cook about 2 minutes. Stir and cook for one more minute. Then let the zoodles sit for a few minutes to allow any excess water to be released, drain. Transfer to a bowl.
- Pour bolognese sauce over drained zoodles and gently toss. You may top with grated parmesan cheese, but this is optional. Serve immediately.