Sunday, 23 December 2012

Zucchini bolognese

So recently, I have been trying to change my old eating habits. Bad eating habits to be exact. As a foodie I find that extremely difficult as above all, I like tasty food and we all know, food cannot be healthy and tasty at the same time. As a matter of fact in the food-world, most would agree that these two concepts are mutually exclusive and cannot co-exist. Not true.

The secret is in substitution. I have discovered that by exerting a bit of creativity you could substitute bad ingredients, with cleaner alternatives. My current favourite is substituting dressing (and sauce) for natural low fat Greek yoghurt with a squeeze of lemon juice and a handful of fresh chopped herbs! You could even jazz that up a bit more by throwing all that, and some avocados in a food processor until you have a delicious dressing/dip that just about goes with anything!

This day, I was looking for a substitute for pasta - another one of my favourites. After much research online I discovered that zucchini could work as pasta substitute. How? Here's a very simple recipe for my guilt-free 'spaghetti bolognese'.

(Note: I am not big with measuring and I cook with intuition so the following measurements are estimates only and can be adjusted according to your personal preferences)

-  2 large zucchinis
-  400g minced lean beef
-  2 x 400g can of diced tomatoes
-  4 tbs tomato paste
-  1 small brown onion
-  1/2 cup of roughly chopped basil
-  2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
-  1 tsp olive oil

The fun part is making the 'pasta'. A good friend recently gifted me with the perfect Christmas present for my new-founded clean-eating hobby - a mandolin (or slicer). All you need to do is:

1.  Slice the zucchini lengthwise (tip: keep the skin and discard the seedy middle bit) then shred the sliced zucchini lengthwise until you have long strips of spaghetti-looking zucchini.

2.  Heat the oil in a saucepan and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is soft and brown.  Add the mince and cook until browned.

3.  Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and half the basil. Simmer for 15 minutes until you have a nice thick sauce. Stir in the remaining basil.

4.  While simmering the pasta sauce, bring a pot of water to the boil, toss the zucchini in and turn the flame down so that the water is just simmering. Wait for one minute (for firmer, more 'al dente' pasta). Drain the zucchini with a colander (tip: the zucchini retains water so place a piece of kitchen paper in the colander with the zucchini and leave it there for a while to soak up some of that excess water).

5.  Divide the 'pasta' on serving plates and top it generously with the sauce. 

6.  Garnish - food presentation is important and we eat with our eyes first!

Bon app├ętit!


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