Growing up, my family always called me the little Panda Bear. “You might as well just stick to bamboo”, Ma would say. This sauce is a dish that one recipe that she could always get me to eat and, as I grew to love cooking, made it my own. This is the every kitchen friendly version (aka a little less time cooking, a lot more time eating) and is a variation of the very sauce I may one day bottle and share. At this point I have to, considering I have old friends, after 2 years without it, still asking to have it shipped to the west coast!
The Zucchini linguini is a brilliant substitute for the carb-filled pasta that I love so dearly. As much as I love those delish, wheaty noodles, its not necessarily the best for you. As someone who never thought she’d find a way to fill the hole pasta had put in her heart, this version of linguini can trick your taste buds, add more veggies to your daily diet, and make room on the plate for tasty garlic bread!
1 quart grape tomatoes
1 can peeled whole tomatoes (home prepped or store bought)
1 jar of simple, pre-made sauce (for a time effective meal use pre-made)
½ bulb of garlic
2 tsp Italian Herbs
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Oregano (dried or fresh, to taste)
- Pour olive oil into your sauce/sauté pan. Add two shakes of each: oregano, italian herbs, and crushed red pepper flakes to the oil and turn the burner to a medium heat. Adding the herbs to the oil as it heats creates an infused oil, helping to increase the over-all flavor of the dish. Make sure not to raise the heat past medium, as the additional heat changes the oils structure and reduces the health benefits of the olive oil.
- Slice the grape/cherry tomatoes in half. When the oil heat rises, distribute the oil around the pan and add the cherry tomatoes to the pan. Cover and let sit on medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
- While the grape tomatoes cook, drain additional juice from the peeled whole tomato can. Add whole tomatoes to the pan. Using spatula, cut whole tomatoes into halves/quarters and stir.
- Add ½-1 jar of pre-made sauce. This is to act as a base and increases the amount of time spent table-side, rather than counter-side. It is a trick I learned with my mother after a long day of work. I learned with Classico Spicy Red Pepper but have since switched to the most fairly priced local sauce at the Whole Foods. They will often have a sale on at least one sauce, giving opportunity to try new things without too much variation in price or flavor. Remember, its a base sauce, so nothing too fancy! Having too much in the base can ruin the overall flavor. When in doubt, try the Roasted Red Pepper WholeFoods sauce.**To the locals: in the market for a good local sauce at a reasonable price, comment and email with suggestions!**
- Add a thin layer of italian herbs and oregano to the top of the mixture. Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. This is a good point to do your zucchini prep (see below).
- Using a garlic press, crush half a bulb of garlic (approx 8-12 clove according to personal taste). You can also finely chop the garlic. Add the garlic to the sauce and cover the sauce pan. Prepare to serve in the next 5-10 minutes. This will make it similar to a fra diavolo sauce, identified in italian cooking by garlic and crushed red pepper. This is also a good point to add crushed red pepper to your dish, if your a super spicy fan like I just so happen to be.
- Right before serving, add finely chopped basil to the sauce (added towards the end to preserve flavor).
**If it is your first time you may want to peel the skin of the zucchini. They can be a bit more firm, but, like most produce, contain much of the nutrients in the vegetable. This will also change whether you decide to boil the zucchini or not.**
- Using a julienne peeler, start from the top of zucchini (where the vine was once attached), to the bottom. This will create strands of the vegetable, similar to the width and length of the traditional linguini.
- You have two options from here: you can boil the zucchini linguini for one minute or eat it raw. Enjoying it raw will increase the nutrient density of your dish, but requires that the zucchini be tossed with the sauce. Either way you will not be ruinin’ the flavor!
Le Final Dish:
- Toss the zucchini linguini with your delicious sauce and enjoy!
**Topping suggestions: Try parmigiano reggiano, for classic italian prep, Cherry Glen’s Crotin (grated) for a health cheesie parm substitute, or cracked hemp heart seeds for a vegan substitute.
A finely chopped basil leaf or two makes for a great color atop the red for presentation. **
See the next post for Sis’s meatball recipe!
Tomatoes and Garlic: The Trusted Table; Basil and Zucchini: Fleet Street Market; Oregano: my buddy Joeys garden