As we talked about last week, few things can beat a nice plate of spaghetti and meatballs. No matter what the season, or what the occasion, there is just something wonderful (almost addictive!) about pasta. If only it had fewer calories and carbs! In case you missed last Saturday's post, I posted photos of "zucchini pasta" made with a handy gadget called a "spiralizer." It turns this...
Does it taste exactly like pasta? No, not quite. But it's a darn good substitute and here's a hint. You can start using "half real pasta" and "half zucchini pasta" to ween yourself off the wheat version. Gradually reduce the amount of "real" pasta and you will be happy with the zucchini version (at least that's the theory. Hey, nothing is perfect in life.) But what's pasta without a delicious sauce?
I started making my own marinara sauce years ago. I want to save calories, eliminate fat and get rid of any "processed" taste. It's incredibly easy to do and now that basil is here, I make it and freeze it for the long cold winter.
(I'm experimenting with keeping my basil plants going throughout the winter, but that's the subject for another blog, and I'm open to suggestions.)
A quick note about basil. You pinch it back, right? That's very important for encouraging new growth. And you can take those tall straggly pieces, strip away the bottom leaves, plunk the stem in a glass of water and in 2 or 3 weeks, you will have an entire new plant. Unlimited basil!! But more about that later. Here's my basic recipe for marinara sauce.
Saute a Vidalia onion (or a regular onion or a "sweet onion" if you can't find Vidalia.)
Add a little minced garlic to the pan and sauté that, as well. (this is optional, I don't use garlic. Another option is garlic powder.)
Add 8 ounces of fresh mushrooms to the pan. Keep stirring.
Now add crushed tomatoes. I usually start with a big can, or two or three smaller cans.
If you want more "texture" in your sauce, you can add a can of diced tomatoes, this is optional too.
Sometimes I add a handful of cherry tomatoes at this point. They're delicious and they add a sweet, delicate taste to the sauce.
Now's the time to add plenty of fresh basil and parsley.
Add a little black pepper and salt (I use Crazy Salt) which is both pepper and salt mixed together. If you are trying to cut down or eliminate salt, just skip this step. I also add a little Italian seasoning (but if you are lucky enough to have fresh oregano in the garden, use that instead.) You can tailor this recipe any way you want and I keep tasting as I go along. A little of this, a little of that!
Now just let the sauce simmer and all the flavors will get acquainted with each other. I let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve over zucchini pasta (or real pasta, if you must!) and I think you will like it. Let me know how you do with it, and next week, I'm posting a recipe for "zucchini manicotti" and "zucchini lasagna." Both are delish! Thanks for stopping by and happy gardening and cooking, everyone. Once tomatoes are really in season, I'll post a recipe for "fresh marinara sauce" with no canned ingredients.