Mains/ Recipes/ Savory

Zoodle Pasta Bake with Butternut Marinara

I have never been one to keep a jar of pasta sauce in my pantry. First of all, I love pasta. By eliminating a shortcut to the sauce, I like to pretend I’m less susceptible to vegging out with a bowl of spaghetti on the couch. Being raised by a cook didn’t help the case for the jar, either. My mother wouldn’t be caught dead with a processed pasta sauce in her midst – always homemade.

When I dreamt up this recipe, it seemed a bit too lengthy for my taste. Not only would I need to roast a squash and make zucchini noodles, I’d also have to stew tomatoes and blend in spices for the marinara sauce (only to go and blend it with the squash). I eventually found myself in the sauce aisle at Trader Joe’s, reading the labels to find a bare-bones sauce even my mother would accept. With the sauce equation complete, the recipe became an absolute breeze. The recipe is super healthy and the butternut squash sauce makes for a thick and filling piece of the puzzle. This made 3 large servings.

Ingredients:

2 large zucchini, skin peeled and stems removed

2-3 cups of cubed, peeled butternut squash

2/3 cup of jarred marinara sauce

1 cup of low-fat shredded mozzarella

Olive oil

Directions:

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cubed squash with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, stirring it until fully coated.

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Spread on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake at 400 for about 30 minutes, or until the cubes are easily pierced with a fork. Remove and let cool. Keep the oven on, but lower to 350.

In the meantime, use a spiralizer or vegetable peeler to make zoodles out of the two zucchini.

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In a blender or food processor, combine 2/3 cup of marinara sauce with the roasted butternut squash and blend until smooth.

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Pour over the zoodles, stirring thoroughly until fully incorporated.

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Transfer your zoodles to an oven-save dish, mashing them down until they are evenly layered across the bottom.

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The deeper the dish and smaller the width, the less cheese you will need to cover the surface area. I used a round Pyrex, which held about 7 cups. Top with shredded cheese until fully covered. Add a few shakes of pepper flakes for spice if desired. Bake at 350 for about 15 – 20 minutes. If you’d like, finish under the broiler for extra bubbly cheese.

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