I am excited to be writing today’s post as this has become one of my favorite recipes to make the last few months. Buying a Spiralizer was a great investment and is a handy tool to have in your kitchen no matter what kind of lifestyle you are living. I first heard about a spiralizer when I stumbled upon the blog Inspiralized. As you can see on Ali’s blog, there are endless possibilities for spiralized vegetables; zucchini, cucumbers, onions, potatoes and even apples are commonly spiralized for her dishes using one of the three blade attachments. To date I’ve only used green and yellow zucchini, but I bet other vegetables are equally delicious. Using zucchini in place of noodles (hence “zoodles”) is a must for anyone eating low carb and is a great way to get in another serving of vegetables.
Start by chopping 1 medium yellow onion and slicing the ends off 2 medium green or yellow zucchini. Place a plate with a paper towel in front of the spiralizer to catch the zoodles. If you do not have a spiralizer, a julienne peeler will have the same result. In theory you can use any of the three blade attachments for this, but I recommend using Blade A which turns the vegetable into spaghetti-like noodles. Attach the zucchini to the blade and the handle and make sure your spiralizer is firmly planted on a non-porous surface. Crank the handle until the noodles are sliced and coming through the other side. I also recommend that you use kitchen shears to snip the noodles every 5-7 inches as you spiralize them or they tend to clump in the pan. Continue cranking and snipping until both zucchini are fully “zoodled.”
The most important step to a successful zoodles dish is to thoroughly dry the zucchini after it is spiralized and before adding it to your sauce. I made the mistake of skipping this step once and the pan became a watered-down mess. Zucchini is about 95% water which will be released when cooked, so it’s necessary to soak up as much water as possible before then. I always place one paper towel down first on a plate, spiralize the first zucchini, add a 2nd paper towel on top, spiralize the second zucchini and then add a 3rd paper towel on top of that. I spiralize first before any cooking so that the paper towels soak up as much water as possible while making the sauce; I even change the paper towels after 15 minutes or so.
The meat sauce is made from about 1 pound of 100% grassfed 85% lean ground beef, 6oz of fresh sliced baby bella mushrooms, 1 medium yellow onion and your favorite marinara sauce. I am lucky to be able to find Rao’s in my Whole Foods which is a local brand. I’ve tried many varieties of their sauces and have liked them all, but the “Sensitive Formula” is my favorite and the lowest carb count (2g net carbs per 1/2cup serving). I am still on the hunt for a true sugar free pasta sauce, however, as I’ve not yet perfected my own sauce from scratch.
Cook the ground beef until completely browned then drain the excess grease through a strainer and set the cooked meat aside. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the still-hot pan before sauteing the onion and mushrooms until caramelized and tender. I also like to add some red pepper flakes and garlic to enhance the flavor, but this step is optional.
Once the onions and mushrooms are fully cooked, pour the ground beef back into your pan before adding 1.5 cups of sauce over top. Finally, add your zucchini to the pan and stir. I find it is easiest to toss the sauce and zoodles together with tongs rather than a spoon. The zoodles only take 2-3 minutes to heat through. You can, of course, cook them a little longer, but I like when they are “al dente” and not completely soft. If you’d like you can season with salt and pepper or some dried oregano at this point, too.
Turn off the heat and plate you zoodles; adding a little grated parmesan on top is a delicious finishing touch. This dish saves great overnight and I always enjoy bringing leftovers for lunch to work the next day. Admittedly, this is one of the highest “total carbs” meal in my rotation, but it has replaced my love of pasta and is very satisfying every few weeks. To lower the carb count you could make this into 4 servings instead of 3, but I like a hearty portion for dinner. If you are not watching your carbs as closely, you can play around with the ingredients in your sauce. Sausage or homemade meatballs instead of ground beef would be delicious – sauteing bell peppers with the onions for extra crunch is great, too. I expect to include other variations of this dish on my blog in the future. Have you tried this or another zoodles recipe? Share your versions with me below!