Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Zucchini "Pasta" with Vegetable Ragu

Vegetarian and gluten free
(If you ignore the bread in the photo)

I'm not vegetarian, I'm not sensitive to gluten (hence the accompanying bread in the photo) but I love fresh foods. And it is that time of the year when you might have a bountiful harvest of zucchini. So what to do? "Pasta" is an answer.

I have two dishes here with two different "Pasta" shapes: spaghetti and lasagna noodles.
To create the spaghetti I use a Spiral Vegetable Slicer. You can find them at your local kitchen store or at amazon.com. I have a less expensive model that works well, costing around $21.

A grater with large holes will work as well. Grate holding the zucchini the so that you get nice long slices.

But, look how fun a spiral cutter can be.

Thin "Spaghetti"

Thick "Fettuccini"

Once you have spiral cut or grated zucchini you're on your way. The zucchini does not get cooked. I repeat, THE ZUCCHINI DOES NOT GET COOKED! Nice!

The three components of the dish are: zucchini "pasta", tomato sauce and toppings. A recipe for the sauce follows, but if you have a sauce you like... go for it.


Serves 6


1/4 cup olive oil

The following ingredients make up a "battuto" (Italian) or "mirepoix" (French).  
1 carrot cut into ¼ inch dice       

1 celery stalk, ¼ inch dice

1 onion, diced

1 garlic clove, sliced

¼ cup tomato paste

1 cup milk (substitute water or vegetable stock if you like)

1 cup white wine

Salt and pepper

·        Heat the olive oil, add battuto and cook until softened but not browned.
·        Add tomato paste and cook over low heat until shiny and rust-colored.

·        Add white wine and water to deglaze the pan.

·        Add milk and simmer over moderately low heat until thick and saucy, about 1 hour.

·        Season with salt and pepper.

Make ahead: the ragù can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, leftovers freeze well.
To assemble the dish:
  • I topped the dish with sautéed mushrooms, artichoke hearts (from a jar but in water, not oil), sliced pepperoncini, and olives. The final garnish? Fresh torn basil leaves from the garden. You may also like: oven dried tomatoes... go crazy.
  • Warm up the "pasta" by tossing it in a bit of the hot tomato sauce.
  • Top with more sauce, sautéed vegetables and fresh basil.
  • Serve with grated cheese if you like.

Another zucchini "pasta" may be produced with a mandolin or with very good knife skills. Lasagna noodles may be made with fresh zucchini or even sweet potato slices (those should be simmered to soften slightly before assembly of a dish).

zucchini "lasagna" in a black clay casserole available from Ancient Cookware

"lasagna" noodles on a mandolin

I'll be posting recipes soon on the Ancient Cookware website. In the mean time you may find their products on Amazon.com. Also, visit their Face Book page.


Serves 6


2 large zucchini

2 cups ricotta cheese

1 egg

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp Italian seasoning or 2 tbsp combined fresh basil and fresh oregano

3/4 cup mozzarella cheese

2 cup tomato sauce


·        Slice your zucchini into thin strips. A mandolin slicer makes this easy, but a knife works too. Lay out on paper towels, lightly salt, and let sit for about 10 minutes. This helps get rid of some of the water.

·        Heat up a skillet and lightly spray with non-stick spray or olive oil. “Grill” the zucchini over medium heat for about a minute on each side, just to get it cooked slightly.

·        Spray a small casserole dish with non-stick spray, and coat the bottom tomato sauce and then line with zucchini strips.

·        Combine the ricotta, egg, Parmesan, and seasoning in a small dish, until mixed. Top the zucchini with half of the cheese mixture, and then spread on a thin layer of pasta sauce. Repeat.

·        Top with more zucchini strips and tomato sauce, and then sprinkle the mozzarella cheese on top. Bake in an oven at 350 for about 35 minutes, or until the cheese on top begins to brown.

·        Let sit for a few minutes to cool, and then serve.
Ready? GO!


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