Zucchini “Pasta”

Zucchini “Pasta”

It’s pasta week here on SPC, so today I present you with – antipasta! (It’s a play on antipasto. Work with me, people.) Due to various health reasons, we try to avoid wheat when possible, which means that proper pasta is rarely on the menu. It’s a sad thing, but my body does not play well with pasta. There are many wheat-free pasta substitutes on the market, but I’m trying to train my brain to ditch the starch addiction completely. We eat meatballs without the spaghetti, use thin slices of grilled eggplant in lasagna instead of noodles, and one of my lunchtime favourites, use ribbons of zucchini as a pasta stand-in.

Zucchini “pasta” is an extremely quick base for any sauce, and as it’s a lot lighter in the stomach, I don’t feel like I need a nap afterwards. It holds up well to any sauce –  I’ve used it to make a sort of carbonara, with bolognaise sauce, and the good ol’ “What’s In My Fridge Today?” sauce. Take a peeler to a washed zucchini and pare it down into ribbons, leaving the watery core (otherwise you’ll get a very runny sauce.) You can either sauté it quickly on its own and throw some sauce on the top afterwards, or add it to your sauce at the last minute.

Here are the three sauces that I use the most, and with the “Fridge Sauce” recipe, you can substitute to your heart’s content. All of these recipes feed four(ish.)

Zucchini “Pasta”


  • For the ragu:
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 500g ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 rib of celery, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 wine glassful of red wine
  • 1 tin of plum tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 star anise
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For the carbonara sauce:
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 slices of pancetta or smoked bacon, diced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • For the fridge sauce:
  • This is literally whatever I’ve got in the fridge that tastes good together. Here’s the sauce I threw together for the dish in the photo.
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • Leftover roast chicken
  • A handful of porcini mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 glassful of white wine
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 3-4tbsp of heavy cream, crème fraiche, or plain yogurt
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Method for the ragu sauce:

In a large frying pan (with a lid), heat the oil over a high flame.

Add the beef and season it with salt and pepper, and let it brown – don’t stir it too often so that it gets a bit of a “crust”.

Remove the beef and drain.

Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic, and fry for about 5 minutes, until the onions are soft.

Throw in the red wine (the cook should also have a glass, or at least that’s how it works in my kitchen) and let it reduce a little.

Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, and star anise.

Turn the heat down to low, cover, and let the sauce simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes (a couple of hours is ideal.)

Alternatively, add the sauce to a slow cooker at this point, and cook on low for 6 hours.

Just before serving, remove the star anise and bay leaf, stir in the basil, and season to taste.

Pour over sautéed zucchini ribbons. (This sauce freezes really well, too.)

Method for the carbonara:

Over high heat, add the olive oil to a frying pan and add the bacon.

Fry until the bacon is crisp. Add the garlic and fry for another minute or so, then remove the bacon and garlic from the pan.

In the same pan, sauté the zucchini ribbons for 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and rapidly stir in the bacon, garlic, egg yolks, and a handful of parmesan cheese.

Stir well so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs! Season to taste.

Note: If you’re making this sauce for regular pasta, don’t drain the pasta completely after cooking. Keep about 2tbsp of the water in the pot with the pasta and toss it all together with the carbonara sauce. The zucchini releases enough water, so you can skip this step.

Method for the fridge sauce:

In a hot frying pan, add the olive oil and bacon.

Fry the bacon until crisp, then add the garlic and fry for 1 minute.

Add the chicken, mushrooms, and white wine.

Let the wine reduce a little, then add the chicken stock and let it reduce again.

Add the zucchini ribbons and fry for 2-3 minutes, then add the cream.

Heat until the sauce thickens, season to taste, and serve.


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  1. […] meat sauce is the same one I mention in my zucchini “pasta” post here: http://www.laurak24.sg-host.com/wordpress/2012/04/lisas-letters-home-zucchini-pasta/ It’s my “go to” ragu sauce and use it for everything from spaghetti to cottage pie (or […]

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    June 13, 15:47 Reply


    Lisa’s Letters Home: Zucchini “Pasta” – Sweet Potato Chronicles

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