There are two reasons why I LOVE this recipe.
1. I realized how easy it is to make “homemade”* tomato sauce. I am never going to buy another tomato sauce jar again. Never! Ok never say never, but honestly it was so yummy and more importantly so easy. Compared to the extra sugar added and overly processed sauces I used to buy, this sauce is hands down healthier and it will be very hard to ever go back so TRY IT!
* As you will see, this sauce is what Sandra Lee from the Food Network Channel would refer to as semi-homemade because I do use canned tomatoes in this recipe. But who cares, right? Sue me. But, honestly, who has the time during the week to make sauce from scratch? Nonetheless, whatever you prefer to call it, this sauce is much better than anything Ragu or Prego makes and bottles these days.
2. This recipe made me use my mandolin cutter. I got it as a gift for my wedding 8 years ago and honestly it has collected dust since then. The mandolin and the KitchenAid are the only two kitchen appliances that are underutilized in this Cubana’s Cocina and now after making these zucchini “noodles” I vow to use it more. It was so much fun and saved me so much time in needless chopping! Julian loved it too. Of course if you don’t have one, you can still make this recipe. All you have to do is get a sharp knife and be ready to practice your knife work.
Also since this was my first time using a mandolin, I documented every step so make sure you scroll down after the directions for very detailed photos of how to make this delicious meal.
- 2lbs of ground beef, I used 96% lean
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (I love garlic so I added like 8!)
- 1 (8 oz) can of tomato sauce
- 1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes (I used Italian Style)
- ½ of a (6 oz) can of tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon of oregano
- 5 medium sized fresh zucchini, cut into julienne strips
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Lay out all your ingredients and preheat oven to broil or 500 degrees.
- Dust off your mandolin cutter. Wash your zucchini and set your mandolin cutter to the julienne setting to cut the zucchini into tiny strips. Again if you are sans mandolin, don't get beat down. Zucchini is easy to chop so it won't take you long. Because I put my setting so thin (1/8 inch), I had to pull apart the strips once they went through the mandolin. It actually worked out because that was a great task for Julian to do.
- Place zucchini on a cookie sheet and spray with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. For 5 medium-sized zucchini, I had to use 2 large cookie sheets. If you are broiling them, like me, you will have to take the top rack in the oven and place it as close as you can to the broiler. Add your first batch/ cookie sheet with zucchini and cook for 15 minutes. Half way through the broiling time, stir the zucchini to avoid burning in certain areas.While you are cooking the batch, start your meat sauce. While the sauce is cooking then cook the second tray. I would like to mention that the next time I make this yummy recipe, I will most likely preheat the oven at 425 degrees and bake all the julienne cut zucchini first for about 20-25 minutes and right before the sauce is done I will take turns broiling the zucchini at the end to get that desired texture. Again, the only reason I mention this as another alternative is because I must remind you that my family eats A LOT. Don't be fooled by our small stature and small aged kids, THESE.BOYS.CAN.EAT and 5 zucchini did not leave us with much left overs. Since I love leftovers, doubling the zucchini doesn't make sense in this recipe since broiling 3 or 4 batches is time consuming for those with one oven and that is why I think baking them will equally be yummy. If you decide to bake the zucchini first, I think the final step of broiling the baked zucchini at the end is still important because it will not only make the "noodles" more crunchy but also resemble al dente pasta noodles.
- While zucchini is baking, heat a saute pan with about 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Cook oil, garlic and onions for about 5 minutes until onions are translucent.
- Add beef and cook for another 3-4 minutes until you see no pink in the meat pink. Add tablespoon of oregano and stir.
- Once the meat is cooked, add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir for about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste to thicken the sauce and stir again until everything is evenly distributed.
- Cover and simmer on low until all your zucchini is cooked and ready to serve. Should be about 5-10 minutes.
- Place cooked zucchini "noodles" on a plate and top with your amazing semi-homemade meat sauce. Add Parmigiano Reggiano if you are not Paleo.
- Be prepared to have this meal knock your socks off!
Enjoy! Let me know if this sauce is as loved by your family as it is by mine.
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