Few would disagree that pasta is the ultimate comfort food. There are endless ways to prepare it and when done right (preferably with lots of cheese) it just… does something to the soul. Too much? Forgive me. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve enjoyed an actual dish of pasta because, as a low carb eater, it’s my nemesis. However, I refuse to give up my love for classic Italian dishes and have thus found a safe space in the form of zucchini.
In terms of vegetables, zucchini is easily one of the most versatile there is. You can bake it, fry it, sauté it -- but, most importantly, you can spiralize it and transform its contents (also known as “zoodles”) into the ultimate low-carb pasta alternative.
Which brought me to this recipe. This “lightened” version of classic baked ziti is delicious, much healthier and the perfect killer for major pasta cravings. Talk about a win.
- 3 Medium Zucchinis
- 1 pound of ground turkey
- 1 can (28oz) of crushed tomatoes
- 8 oz of fresh Mozzarella Cheese
- 1 cup of shredded Provolone Cheese
- 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 cup of chopped mushrooms
- 1-1/2 tbsps of minced garlic
- ½ cup of diced onion
- 1-1/2 tbsps of olive oil
- 1/2 cup of chopped fresh basil
- Red Pepper Flakes
1) Spiralize Zucchini, Salt, Drain: Using a spiralizer (I use a handheld Veggetti), cut the zucchini into “zoodles.” Add them to a colander and place it in a bowl. Toss the zoodles with 2 teaspoons of salt. Doing this will help the zucchini drain more effectively as it has the tendency to retain excess water. Let it remain in the colander while you prep the sauce.
2) Prep Ground Turkey and Veggies: Coat the bottom of a sauté pan with 1-1/2 tbsps of olive oil and heat. Once heated, add ground turkey to the pan and cook until it’s lightly browned. Once it’s cooked through add mushrooms, onions, minced garlic and season to taste with ground black pepper, red pepper seeds and salt.
3) Create Sauce: Once the onion and mushrooms are softened, add the can of crushed tomatoes and a portion of the chopped basil to the pan. Bring the heat to a low simmer and allow to cook for another 5 minutes.
4) Remove excess moisture from zoodles and add to pan: Even though they’ve been draining, most likely there’s still excess water in the zoodles so you’ll want to fully drain them with paper towel. Once you do, stir them into the pan with the sauce mixture and remove it from the fire.
5) Add to oiled baking pan: After mixing, transfer the contents into an oiled baking pan (I used a glass 8 x 13 inch one which was the perfect size) and spread it evenly
6) Cheese it: For me -- The more cheese the better and since I like my version of this to have cheese throughout -- I arrange the mozzarella in about 12 clumps across the casserole and “bury” them. Then I mix the parmesan and shredded provolone together and sprinkle on the top.
7) Bake, Broil and Enjoy!: Bake uncovered at 375°F for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. If you like your cheese to have an extra “pizza like” crispiness you can broil for an additional 2-3 minutes -- however, if you take this step, be sure to WATCH IT IN THE OVEN, because the burned version of this is not as pretty.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes and enjoy!