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Monday, July 2, 2012

Zucchini "pasta" Bake

I'm amazed at the bounty my garden is producing already!  In the last 3 days, we've harvested 10 or 12 zucchini!  They are beautiful - and I'm so proud that the are growing in my yard!  
At church yesterday, I was talking to a friend who is quite an accomplished backyard gardener and she told me about a way that she utilizes her abundance of zucchini.  Beth makes a type of lasagna using thin slices of zucchini, layered with spaghetti noodles, tomatoes, garlic and lots of motz!  Well, I don't currently do pasta, and will never do mozzarella.  But the basic idea sounded delish!  So I adapted!  Fortunately, my wonderful husband surprised me late last week with the spiralizer I've been wanting.  A spiralizer, by the way, reminds me of the little playdough toy that allows you to make hair.  Basically, you just push your zucchini through this simple gadget and "noodles" come out the other end. SO FAST, SO EASY, SO CREATIVE & very cheap!  (About $40 on Amazon)

*** You do not have to have a spiralizer to make this!  The spiralizer makes the zucchini fun and appetizing, but you can just slice and layer your zucchini.  OR if you do pasta, use pasta!  (No need to cook it first!  The zucchini and tomatoes produce plenty of moisture in this recipe.  The noodles will cook while they bake).  Of course, I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight if I didn't remind you that "white ain't right"!!  Eat whole grain pasta!  
Most importantly, NEVER FORGET - this is your kitchen, so you can do whatever you want!  This is a basic template for you!  Use what you have and what you love!  There is no right or wrong!

Don't you just want to devour this!!

Ingredients:

4-5 zucchini
4-5 tomatoes
red onion - as much as you like!
Fresh basil
Parmesan Cheese (optional)
Mushrooms (I used portabello)
Pasta Sauce
Oregano (fresh or dried)

Process:

Pour a thin layer of pasta sauce in the bottom of the pan.  
Using the spiralizer, process 4-5 zucchini.  Place a layer of zucchini noodles over the pasta sauce.
Thinly slice tomatoes and layer over the noodles.  Slice onions (I like long arcs!), and mushrooms and layer over tomatoes.  Chop fresh garlic (as much as you like!) and sprinkle over top.  Sprinkle with fresh basil and oregano.  Add another layer of pasta sauce and repeat the whole process.  Because I am basically vegan, I would only sprinkle a small amount of Parmesan over the top before baking.  My family, on the other hand, LOVES cheese, so you can see by the photo that I kept them happy by sprinkling cheddar over 1/2 the casserole.

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.  This recipe will produce a great deal of liquid!  I just scooped the food right up out of the liquid and served it.  When it was time to store the leftovers in the fridge, I poured the "juice" into a container.  Afterall, it is loaded with nutrients!  The next day I drank it like V-8 juice.  Yum!!  My family (even my mountain dew and Dorrito eating son) really enjoyed this recipe!

IF YOU EAT A RAW DIET... this is just as awesome raw! As a raw dish, I skip the pasta sauce and instead, create my own fresh pasta sauce using just tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic and a food processor.  Cooking does remove a substantial portion of the nutrients of these wonderful veggies.  Don't be afraid to try it raw sometime!

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Enjoy life's bounty!