Monday, March 17, 2014

Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce with Zucchini Noodles


Whether you’re a working or SAHM mom, dinner time can be a struggle. After a day filled with the busyness of life, getting a hardy and healthy meal on the table for pallets young and old can be challenging.

Thankfully, there is always spaghetti. Everyone knows how to make spaghetti. It’s the ultimate easy, cheap comfort food. And I must say my spaghetti sauce has turned into something pretty spectacular. And, of course, it’s super simple and made in the crock pot – something I use more often than my black, stretchy pants. Here is a simple and healthy gluten-free meal the whole family will love that begins and ends with a crock pot.

Spaghetti Sauce:
2 cans tomato sauce
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 can tomato paste
1 lb. cooked ground Italian sausage (I use mild but sweet or spicey works depending on your preference)
1 lb. cooked ground beef (or another pound of Italian sausage)
**be sure to drain the excess oil from the cooked meat
1 tsp. Basil
1 tsp. Oregano
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
Sea salt to taste

Throw it all in the crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Want to make your life super easy? Make sure to get slow cooker liners to make clean up a breeze. You can find them at any grocer next to plastic baggies.

Zucchini Noodles:

Along with the big wave of gluten-free and Paleo eating, there are a lot of recipes circulating that include vegetable noodles and I had to try it out. Using spiral vegetable slicers (I bought mine on Amazon for about $30), you can make noodles out of just about anything – carrots, potatoes, zucchinis…you name it. I knew these noodles would be flavorful but I didn’t realize they’d be so filling. The best part is my kids love them too. My 3 year old boy was pretty excited to see green, monster noodles on his plate. 
They are also a lot simpler to make than you might think. Many recipes say to let zucchini noodles simmer in water to cook them. I find that method to make them too watery. I prefer sautéing them. Here’s how…

You will need –
Spiral Vegetable Slicer
4 zucchinis (approximately)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

It will probably take about 4 zucchinis to feed the average family. When I’m making this meal I usually think one zucchini per person, so there’s always enough. Using a spiral vegetable slicer, cut the zucchinis into noodles. Once you’ve twisted the zucchinis as far in as you can, take the end of the zucchini and chop it up and throw it in the sauce (no need to waste it).

When I’ve sliced up all my zucchinis, I take a paper towel and gently squeeze the noodles to get any extra water out. Then heat a sauce pan over medium heat. Add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil (give or take) and two cloves of minced garlic. After a minute or so, gently add the noodles and lightly toss them with a teaspoon of pepper until they have been lightly cooked. Be careful not to overcook them. Zucchinis can get very mushy if over cooked.

Serve warm topped with spaghetti sauce, add parmesan cheese if desired, and enjoy!

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