I love fresh tomato sauce with vine-ripened tomatoes that are cooked for only a short time. But, until the tomatoes in my garden ripen, I’ll make do with canned. My favorite canned tomatoes are Muir Glen Fire-Roasted, the sweetest canned tomatoes I’ve found. They’re more expensive than the store brand, but when you’re cooking something that’s centered around tomatoes, you want them to be as tasty as possible.
This pasta sauce is chock-full of vegetables. I start with eggplant and add summer squash and two colors of bell pepper. Since I planned to serve this over zucchini, I used yellow summer squash in the sauce, but zucchini will work equally well, and other vegetables, such as cauliflower or carrots, can be used instead of eggplant. Figure on using about 2 to 3 pounds of vegetables and get as creative as you want!
Zucchini Spirals with Fresh Vegetable Sauce
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 yellow summer squashes, diced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
- 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes (fire-roasted preferred)
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. salt (or to taste)
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper, or to taste
- 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
- 1/4 cup fresh basil (reserve a little for garnish) OR 1 tbsp. dried
- Peel the eggplant and cut it into 1/2-inch slices. Lay the slices in a large colander in a single layer, and lightly salt them. Turn them over and salt the other side. Set the colander on a plate, and set aside for about half an hour. This will draw bitterness from the eggplant. (You may skip this step if you don’t find eggplant bitter.) After half an hour, rinse the eggplant and chop it into 1/2-inch cubes.
- Heat a large non-stick saucepan, and add the onion and 2 tablespoons water. Cook, stirring, until the onion begins to brown, and then add the eggplant and a little more water. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until the eggplant is mostly cooked. Add the squash, bell peppers, and garlic, and continue to cook and stir for 3 more minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients, except for fresh basil. Cover and cook on low until all the flavors have blended, about 10 minutes. Add the basil and cook for a couple more minutes. Serve over zucchini “pasta” or whole wheat rotini.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s) | Cooking time: 20 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4
To make zucchini pasta: I use a handy spiral slicer called a Spirooli, which I was lucky to find at a close-out store for next to nothing. A mandolin slicer with a julienne blade will also produce long strands of zucchini “noodles,” and if nothing else is available, a sharp knife and a lot of patience also works. I use about 1 medium raw zucchini per person. After it’s shredded, I simply put the zucchini on a plate and put the sauce on top. The heat from the sauce warms and softens the zucchini slightly and makes a good substitute for people limiting their consumption of refined flours. And here’s a mom tip: Kids love these long strands of zucchini; it’s a great way to get some raw veggies into them.