Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Zoodles Bolonese

Let me start by saying, I am no master chef. I wouldn't even classify myself as a good cook - hell, I don't really even enjoy cooking at all.  Growing up my Mom was the cook of the family, she makes some of the most delicious food ever and she genuinely enjoys the process. Because of this, I didn't start having to prepare my own meals until I was in college! I've really only been learning how to cook for the last 5 years or so, and sadly I never grew to love it.

....so as you can imagine, this post is a liiiittttllee out of my element.

If you're looking for recipes from someone professional who loves their craft, click here to check out Deliciously Ella. She's an amazing food blogger with some gorgeous healthy recipes. She actually knows her shit. 

However, if you're anything like me and love eating, hate cooking, and don't have a lot of time or energy to create a masterpiece but want something delicious - I got you. I'm starting this series to share easy meals that I have perfected. Ones that require very little effort and ingredients - but taste friggin' awesome. 

So today, I bring you: ZOODLES!

What is a zoodle, you say? Well, it's zucchini that's been put through a contraption called a spiralizer to make it look like noodles - simple as that. Sounds strange but I promise, it's actually incredible. Zucchini is great because it takes on the flavor of whatever you put on it, so when you're using it to substitute pasta, it doesn't taste like you're eating meat covered vegetables. 

This recipe in its most minimal form requires three things:

Ground beef (round mince),  spiralized zucchini (courgette spaghetti), and a pasta sauce of your choice.

I find that spiralized zucchini is pretty easily found in grocery stores nowadays (I buy mine at M&S for like 2 euro!) but, if you have trouble finding it, you can always do it the old fashioned way and buy a spiralizer. These can be as expensive or as cheap as you're willing to pay. I don't currently own one, but I have my eye on this one here - only $15!

I'm lucky that living in Ireland I have access to some seriously fresh, hormone-free, grass fed beef - which I would highly recommend using. I would also recommend picking out a bolognese sauce that doesn't have added sugar (you're already making a healthy choice by using zucchini instead of pasta - don't ruin it with sneaky sauce sugars!) The one I'm using is all veggie based with lots of red chilis in it to pack a punch. But by all means, use your favorite bolognese recipe! If you love making pasta sauce from scratch, go wild. Use your Granny's secret bolognese recipe. Buy a fancy one from your favorite market. Honestly whatever your palate wants, go for it.

My entire process, start to finish took 10 minutes. Yours could take longer depending on your zoodle-making and sauce choice.

Start by browning your meat:

 You can cook it as thoroughly as you like, but only cook it to 90% before adding in your zucchini:

Important note: zucchini cooks FAST, and if you have a lid on your pot it cooks CRAZY fast, so make sure to watch it like a hawk. Similarly to pasta, you can cook it to be harder/crunchier (al dente), or very soft and noodley. I prefer mine somewhere in the middle, and I find it takes me about 3 minutes to get to the texture that I enjoy.

When the meat & noodle texture are to your liking, the next (VERY important) step is to drain the excess liquid:

The zucchini lets out a lot of water while it's cooking, and the meat lets out fat. If you don't drain the liquid you're left with a very wet and unpleasant meal - I learned the hard way! 

After you've thoroughly drained the liquid, throw the goods back into the pan and add your sauce. If your sauce is room temperature, no need to have the stove on, it will heat nicely from the piping hot meat. But if your sauce is coming in cold, make sure you keep your stove at a low heat to prevent overcooking your meal! 

Finally, serve in a bowl of your choice, and top with some parmesan cheese:

If you've never had these before, you're going to be shocked how nice they are! My pasta-loving boyfriend was very timid to try this recipe, but ended up loving it. Zoodles can replace noodles in any of your favorite pasta recipes. If you're a seafood lover, try switching out the beef for shrimp and the bolognese for pesto, it's incredible! 

The only downfall to this recipe is that, unlike regular pasta, it doesn't keep well as leftovers in the fridge. But in general, it saves time AND saves carbs. What else could you want? 

Bon App├ętit!

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