Growing up in an Italian America family, Sunday dinner was sacred; a never missed event. Typically consisting of 5 courses and lasting for about that many hours. Food was woven into the social structure of our interaction. When planning a get together, Sunday dinner, holiday or birthday the main focus was ALWAYS “what are we going to eat?”.
With my grandparents having experienced the food shortage during the war, their mindset was always to make sure we have enough. The worst possible thing would have been guests showing up unexpectedly, which happened all the time and there was not enough food. 10 people were confirmed for dinner so we cooked for 20. Watching the reaction of non-family members was always so amusing the first time they witness the display of food that was offered.
No single ingredient was ever purchased at a supermarket. We had to go to the Italian market, butcher, bakery and fish store. Having immigrant parents, my grandparents were raised that everything was purchased and prepared fresh that day. Anything served out of a plastic container was consider a mortal sin.
This style of cooking and eating was all I knew growing up. A simple, clean, whole food Mediterranean diet. Always homemade and prepared with love.
Unfortunately our culture and lifestyle no longer allows for this type of experience without quite a bit of effort. The hours of shopping and clean and prepping simply does not fit into our overbooked schedule. Our time has been reallocated to everything other than our own wellbeing. So I try to keep my recipes in alignment with my grandparents logic but offer a few short cuts to get there.
A typical plate of spaghetti offers 150 grams of carbohydrates. Whole wheat pasta comes in around 90 grams of carbohydrates. A medium sized zucchini provides about 6 grams of carbohydrates. At about 33 calories per serving and 2 grams of fiber, it’s zucchini for the win!
Zucchini Linguine and Marinara Sauce
2-3 medium size zucchini or purchase precut zucchini
1 large can San Marzano tomatoes (crushed or diced)
2 garlic cloves
1 medium yellow onion
grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Prep Time: 15 minutes – Cook Time: 20 minutes – Serves 3-4
Spiral cut zucchini with mandolin or spiralizer. I purchase mine precut.
Peel and chop garlic and onion
Open canned tomatoes
Preheat a sauté or fry pan on medium heat and add two tbsp of olive oil. Gently cook garlic and onions until aromatic and translucent. Add canned tomatoes and rise heat slightly. Cook down tomatoes until most of the liquid evaporates. It is done when you can run a spoon through it and there is no more liquid runoff. Remove tomato mixture and place in bowl to cool. In same pan add one tbsp of olive oil and sauté the zucchini with a sprinkle of salt. This is a water dense vegetable and will release a lot of liquid when cooked. Once zucchini is cooked through, about 3-5 minutes remove from pan and place on paper towel lined plate to absorb any remaining liquid. Add the tomato sauce and zucchini back into pan and heat until zucchini is coated with sauce throughly. Sprinkle with fresh chopped basil and grated cheese. Enjoy.