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.
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
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cubed squash with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, stirring it until fully coated.
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.
In a blender or food processor, combine 2/3 cup of marinara sauce with the roasted butternut squash and blend until smooth.
Pour over the zoodles, stirring thoroughly until fully incorporated.
Transfer your zoodles to an oven-save dish, mashing them down until they are evenly layered across the bottom.
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.