For your Tuesday! For your Whole30! For your health!
This is probably the healthiest sausage dish I’ve ever made, and if that isn’t the most delicious kind of irony I don’t know what is. Jay’s still plowing through Whole30, so we’ve been enjoying low-carb (and all of the other rules) dinners for a few weeks now. I made this this weekend, and we both really loved it – it’s not a salad which just feels punishing after a long day when it’s cold out, but also not mac and cheese or anything too heavy. The sausage + veg combo is the perfect mix of indulgent and healthy, and a plate of this will easily provide two or more servings of vegetables, which we all need more of no matter what kind of eating plan we’re working with.
The real reason I wanted to show you this asap, though, is the zoodles! Jay’s mom got me a spiralizer attachment for my KitchenAid for Christmas, and it is very likely that this will end up being my favorite Christmas gift. Kitchen gifts are always a sure bet with me, for obvious reasons, but I was super surprised by this and thrilled with how easy it was to use and clean up after. It’s the first attachment I have for my mixer, and now of course I want them all and have nowhere to keep them so….maybe just the spiralizer for now.
This dish has several veggies in it that need to be chopped, but other than that it’s super simple. The sauce is crumbled sausage + tons of veggies + tomato paste and whole tomatoes, then that simmers for as long or as little as you feel like waiting. The zoodles cook in LITERALLY two minutes so I like to have the sauce ready earlier in the day (or you could even make the sauce on a weekend and have it prepped for the week!) and then cook the zoodles right at the last minute. I use bulk sausage from a local grocer; any sausage in the world that you like is what you want to use here!
First, start the sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat. Let it cook, stirring and breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks and browns.
While the sausage is working, I chop the veggies. The green stuff is the center of the zucchini that I spiralized, because waste not, want not. Then it’s chopped onion, mushrooms, carrot, bell pepper, and garlic. The sauce comes together with tomato paste, whole tomatoes, salt, and sugar, and that’s it! So simple and really veg-heavy but the variety of veggies adds so much yummy flavor.
When the sausage has browned, add all of the veggies except for the garlic to the skillet with a sprinkle of salt. Stir the veggies into the meat for about 5 minutes to let them soften slightly.
When the veggies have cooked a bit, add the garlic and tomato paste to the skillet. Stir it into the veggies and sausage, and cook the garlic for two minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juices, and break them up with a spoon as you stir them into the sauce. The result here is the greatest chunky, meaty, veg-y sauce that is so fragrant from the mushrooms and just feels warming even though it’s nice and light at the same time.
Now, how long you simmer this sauce depends entirely on how long you have! 15 minutes at medium-high is JUST fine, you can eat this right away. Or, you can simmer this on low for 30 minutes or even longer to cook the veggies way down and thicken the sauce – I like this method if I make a sauce like this early in the day. Just simmer the sauce as long as you have to let it reduce a bit, but don’t worry if it isn’t cooked way down. When you are close to being ready to eat, very quickly saute the zoodles. I use one large zucchini for two people (Jay will tell you this is not enough), and season it with onion powder, garlic powder, and salt.
To cook the zoodles, preheat a separate skillet over medium-high heat with some olive oil until the skillet is very hot. Add the zoodles and the seasonings and cook them for 90 seconds, maybe two minutes. The idea is to sear the zucchini quickly and evaporate some of the liquid (hence the very hot skillet) without cooking them too much so they don’t turn to mush.
When the zoodles are done, serve! Zucchini, sauce, parmesan, done.
Obviously crusty bread and wine if you AREN’T doing Whole30, no shame in that game.
Gah, diet or not, I really love this meal. It’s nice and balanced, so flavorful from all of the vegetables, and the sauce can of course be made well in advance and used throughout the week. I’m thinking a lasagna wouldn’t be terrible AT ALL with this sauce happening, not at all.
First, though, try this with zoodles, and rejoice! You made a fab sauce and scooted a ton of veggies into your meal all at once.
- 1 pound bulk Italian sausage, hot or mild
- olive oil and salt
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 6-8 cremini mushrooms, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 small carrot, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 28 ounces canned whole tomatoes in their juices
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 large zucchini, spiralized
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- crushed red pepper and parmesan cheese for serving
Preheat a deep skillet to medium-high heat with the sausage for the sauce. Cook the sausage for 7 minutes or so, breaking it up with a spoon as you go, until crumbly and brown. Add the onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, and carrot to the sausage with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Stir the veggies into the sausage and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, to soften the veggies slightly. Add the tomato paste and garlic and cook for two minutes more.
Add the canned tomatoes and sugar to the skillet, breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon or your hands as you stir. Taste the sauce and add salt or a bit more sugar to your taste.
At this point, you can simmer the sauce on medium-high for 15-20 minutes, give or take, or on low for lots longer to thicken and reduce the sauce; it all depends on when you'd like to eat.
About 10 minutes before you'd like to eat, taste the sauce again and add more salt and sugar to your preference. Preheat a large skillet to medium-high heat with a drizzle of olive oil until very hot.
When the oil in the skillet shimmers, add the zoodles in one layer and sprinkle with the salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Toss the spiralized zucchini for 90 seconds until just barely cooked, then remove the skillet from the heat.
Serve the zoodles topped with the sausage sauce and parmesan, if desired. Enjoy!
Whole30 if you omit the sugar from the sauce and don't use parmesan.