Zucchini “Pasta” with Turkey Sausage Bolognese

I would like to give one very enthusiastic high five to the person who first figured out that you could shred certain vegetables into long skinny “noodles” and serve them as a pasta substitute. One cup of cooked spaghetti noodles is about 200 calories. One cup of cooked zucchini – depending on how you make it – can weigh in at about 60 calories. That’s 70% less calories! Ho-ly cow, my friend. My waistline is forever in your debt!

Using turkey sausage instead of a pork-based sausage also helps save on the fat and calorie content of this dish. There is no butter whatsoever and only 3-4 Tbsp. of olive oil went into sautéing the zucchini pasta.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground Italian Turkey Sausage (hot or mild, your preference)
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 small onion (about 1 c chopped)
  • ½ c. white wine
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 large can (28 oz.) of chopped tomatoes with puree
  • Salt and pepper (for seasoning)
  • 2 Tbsp. Italian herbs (any dried Italian herbs that you’ve got on hand – basil, oregano, rosemary, etc. I used the one that I have from the grocery store which is an “Italian herb blend”.
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, to garnish. (optional)
  • Crushed red pepper, to garnish. (optional)
  • Zucchini “pasta” (see recipe here)

Directions:

  • Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat and cook the sausage until almost completely cooked through. Drain any excess fat (if necessary) and set aside in a bowl.
  • If you have a food processor, roughly chop the carrots, celery, and onion into large chunks.  Add to the food processor and use the “chop” function for about 10 seconds, or until everything has been cut down into tiny bits (the equivalent of a “fine dice”).  If you do not have a food processor, dice the carrots, celery, and onion into small, small, pieces.  Think “minced”.
Zucchini Pasta with Turkey Sausage Bolognese, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Zucchini Pasta with Turkey Sausage Bolognese, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

  • In the same sauté pan that you prepared the sausage, reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until they begin to soften (about 5 minutes).
  • Add the 1/2 c. of white wine to the pan. Quickly, begin to scrape the bottom of the pan, loosening any of the brown bits that have begun for form on the bottom. (This process of adding a bit of liquid to a hot pan and scraping the brown bits from the bottom is called “deglazing the pan”. The brown bits are where much of the tasty flavor comes from and so it’s important to scrape them from the bottom of the pan so they can be incorporated into the dish!)
  • Add the garlic to the pan and stir to incorporate. After about 30 seconds, add the cooked Italian sausage back to the pan and immediately add the can of crushed tomatoes and the Italian herbs to the pan as well. Stir everything and reduce the heat so that you being the sauce to a very slow simmer.
Zucchini Pasta with Turkey Sausage Bolognese, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Zucchini Pasta with Turkey Sausage Bolognese, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

  • Simmer for at least 15 minutes before serving. I let mine simmer for over an hour (while I watched some Netflix) so the flavors could really meld.
  • While the sauce is simmering, go ahead and prepare your zucchini pasta. It cooks quickly so if you’ve already cut your zucchini ribbons you’ll only need about 5 minutes to cook it.
  • Plate your zucchini pasta in a bowl, ladle the Bolognese sauce on top, and garnish with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and crushed red pepper.
Zucchini Pasta with Turkey Sausage Bolognese, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Zucchini Pasta with Turkey Sausage Bolognese, Photo Credit: Accounting for Taste

Accounting for Taste is also on Pinterest!

I don’t know why I never mentioned this sooner. I’ve had a Pinterest account for Accounting for Taste for about as long as I’ve had this blog! Pinterest is my lifeblood. It’s where I keep every recipe I ever hope to test out. Every successful recipe I’ve ever made and shared with my WordPress family.  Are you a Pinterest devotee, like myself? Follow us and you’ll never miss a recipe!

http://www.pinterest.com/dpums/accounting-for-taste/

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Skinny Italian: Baked Chicken with Tomatoes, Artichokes, Garlic, and Mozzarella

Photo Credit: Yours Truly :)

Photo Credit: Yours Truly 🙂

Like so many others, I dabble with Pinterest in my spare time.  And although 90% of the things I pin may never see the light of day, every once in awhile I am so excited about a Pinterest gem that I run home and make it happen.  I found this dish floating around on Pinterest and instantly knew it was going down.  Especially since I had most of the ingredients already at home.

What you’ll need:

  • Chicken breasts or thighs (your preference). I chose to use boneless, skinless chicken thighs but this would be just as perfect with boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
  • 4 or 5 plum tomatoes
  • a can of artichoke hearts
  • a few cloves of garlic
  • shredded mozzarella cheese (I used “reduced fat” to keep it lower calorie)
  • fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil (regular or extra virgin – whatever you’ve got)
  • flour (just a few tablespoons for thickening purposes, as the chicken will release quite a bit of liquid as it cooks)
  • sugar (1 tsp.)

How to make it:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Dice the plum tomatoes and place into a large bowl.  Drain the can of artichoke hearts and chop the artichoke hearts into smaller bite-sized pieces.  Add them to the bowl with the tomatoes.  Chop up a few cloves of garlic* (chopped, thinly sliced, minced – whatever floats your boat) and add that to the bowl with the tomatoes and artichokes.  Add 1 tsp. of sugar, a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper (generously), and a few tablespoons of flour (2-3) to the bowl.  Mix this all together.  In a 9×13 baking dish, drizzle some olive oil (to prevent the chicken from sticking).  Add your chicken to the baking dish and salt and pepper generously.  Add the tomato/artichoke/garlic mixture to the baking dish, nestled around the chicken.  Bake this in the oven until it’s about 5 minutes shy of being done. (Cooking time will vary depending on which type of chicken you use.)  About 5 minutes before the chicken is done, pull it out of the oven and turn the broiler on “low”.  Sprinkle a layer of mozzarella cheese over everything (as much or as little as you’d like) and return the pan to the oven.  Keep an eye on it as it finishes under the broiler.  You want the cheese to brown and bubble a bit.  Once this happens, remove the dish from the oven and finish it by garnishing it with torn basil leaves.

*I never get too specific when it comes to garlic. Some people don’t care for it and other people absolutely love it.  I, for example, was raised by a mother who loves, loves, LOVES garlic and passed that love on to me.  So even if a recipe only calls for 2 cloves of garlic, I’ll usually toss in 5 cloves.  Because I can. Because I like it.  Therefore, when a recipe calls for garlic, I tend to just say “a few cloves” and leave it to each chef’s discretion.

You can serve this on top of pasta, if you are so inclined; however, I opted not to in an effort to keep the dish on the healthier side.  You could also add whatever other vegetables tickle your fancy! Onions, zucchini, eggplant, spinach, etc. – there are plenty of options to make this dish your own.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I will definitely be making this again.

Although I took a few liberties in making this dish, credit for the origin of this recipe goes to this blog: http://aaronandjillw.blogspot.com/2011/08/italian-chicken.html

“The secret’s in the sauce.” – Tomato cream sauce, that is.

Photo and recipe courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (www.thepioneerwoman.com)

At the two ends of the pasta sauce spectrum you’ve got your hearty tomato sauces and your creamy alfredo/white sauces.  Most folks I’ve talked to seem to strongly prefer one over the other.  Personally, I drool over a happy marriage of the two: tomato cream sauce (also known as “pink sauce”, or “rosa sauce”).  My folks were coming over for dinner the other night and so I searched online for some delicious pasta inspiration to make for them.  Enter: The Pioneer Woman.

My first introduction to The Pioneer Woman was through another food blog I follow called Bakerella.  One of her posts was about meeting The Pioneer Woman.  That led me over to her blog and I’ve had a place in my heart for her ever since.  As it turns out, she’s a tomato cream sauce girl too.  I found 4 amazing tomato cream sauce recipes that I can’t stop drooling over so I thought I’d share them with you.  The first one, “Penne a la Betsy” is the one I made for my parents.  It was met with rave reviews.

Penne a la Betsy (pictured above)

Prep Time: 25 Minutes    
Cook Time: 25 Minutes      
Difficulty: Easy      
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pounds Penne Pasta
  • 1 pound Shrimp
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 whole Onion (small)
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 cup White Wine, Or To Taste
  • 1 can Tomato Sauce (8 Oz)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Fresh Parsley, to taste
  • Fresh Basil – To Taste
  • Salt To Taste
  • Pepper To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Cook the penne pasta until tender-firm, also known as al dente.

Peel, devein and rinse (under cool water) 1 pound of extra large shrimp. Heat about 1 tbsp. butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add the shrimp and cook for a couple minutes until just opaque. Do not overcook them. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Now, put the cooked shrimp on the cutting board and pull off the tails. Chop the shrimp into bite –sized pieces and set aside.

Finely dice one small onion. Mince two cloves of garlic.

In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the garlic and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally. After the garlic and onions have cooked a bit add your white wine. Let the wine evaporate for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. If you would rather not use wine, you can use low-sodium chicken broth instead (about ½ cup).

Now add an 8-ounce can of plain tomato sauce. Stir well until combined. Then add 1 cup of heavy cream. Continue stirring. Turn heat down to low and let simmer.

Now chop your herbs, about a tablespoon of chopped parsley and about the same amount of chopped basil, or if you’re feeling very proper, chiffonaded.

Now add your chopped shrimp back into the tomato cream sauce. Give it a stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Throw in your herbs and stir until combined. Finally add your cooked penne pasta and give it a good stir.

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Photo and recipe courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (www.thepioneerwoman.com)

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 3 whole Red Bell Peppers
  • 2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts (optional)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • Flat Leaf Parsley, Finely Minced
  • Fresh Parmesan, Shaved Or Grated
  • 1/2 pound (to 1 Pound) Pasta: Orecchiette, Penne, Fusilli, Etc.

Preparation Instructions

Roast red peppers, and then place in a Ziploc bag to allow to sweat. Peel the charred skins from the peppers, then removed seeds. Set aside.

Lightly toast pine nuts in a skillet. Set aside.

Puree peppers with pine nuts. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a skillet or pot over medium heat, drizzle in olive oil. Add diced onions and garlic and cook until soft. Pour in pepper puree and stir together. Add plenty of salt.

Pour in cream and stir to combine. Taste and add more salt, if necessary. Add cooked pasta, and then stir together.

Place pasta into a bowl, top with chopped parsley and plenty of shaved Parmesan.

Pasta Alla Vodka

Photo and recipe courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (www.thepioneerwoman.com)

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Pasta
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Chopped Finely
  • 2 cloves (to 3 Cloves) Garlic, Chopped
  • 3/4 cups (to 1 Cup) Vodka
  • 1 can (About 14 Oz.) Tomato Puree
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon (to 1/2 Teaspoon) Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • 1 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions, being careful not to overcook.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and butter. When butter is melted, add in chopped onion and garlic. Stir and allow to cook for two minutes. Pour in vodka. Stir and cook for three minutes. Add in tomato puree and stir.

Reduce heat to low and stir in cream. Allow to simmer, being careful not to overheat. Stir in red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of pasta water in case sauce is too thick. Add cooked pasta to the sauce, tossing to combine. Splash in a little water if it needs it. Stir in Parmesan cheese.

Pour mixture into large serving bowl. Garnish with more Parmesan cheese.

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce

Photo and recipe courtesy of The Pioneer Woman (www.thepioneerwoman.com)

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 25 Minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 cans (15 Ounce Each) Tomato Sauce Or Marinara Sauce
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • Dash Of Sugar (more To Taste)
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Grated Parmesan Or Romano Cheese, To Taste
  • Fresh Basil, Chopped
  • 1-1/2 pound Fettuccine

Preparation Instructions

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

Heat butter and oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a minute or so. Pour in tomato sauce and add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste. Stir and cook over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in cream. Add cheese to taste, then check seasonings. Stir in pasta and chopped basil and serve immediately. (Thin with pasta water before adding basil if needed.) 

Making these dishes your own:

The beauty of each of these dishes is that they are wide open to editing.  You can tweak the sauces to your liking (add more garlic, different herbs, change the ratio of tomato sauce and cream, etc.)  You can also use whatever pasta you are in the mood for (keep in mind that pasta shapes are individually suited to different kinds of sauce).  You can also toss in whatever protein you like – in the mood for seafood? Throw some shrimp, clams, mussels, scallops, fish – whatever tickles your fancy.  In the mood for chicken, ground beef, sausage, or any combination thereof?  Go for it.  Want to throw some veggies in there? Go for it!

Because I think you should really head over to The Pioneer Woman’s website for yourself: here are the links to each of these recipes.  She takes the most beautiful pictures and in fact she takes step-by-step instructional photos of every recipe she makes.  I can’t compete with that. lol  (Not until I have more free time on my hands, at least.)

Penne a la Betsy: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/09/cooking_with_my_punk-ass_little_sister_penne_a_la_betsy/

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2009/03/pasta-with-roasted-red-pepper-sauce-groan/

Pasta alla Vodka: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2008/12/friday-night-dinner-pasta-alla-vodka/

Pasta with Tomato Cream Sauce: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/09/pasta-with-tomato-cream-sauce/

If you make any of these, please let me know how they turn out!  Happy cooking! 🙂