Friday, June 29, 2012

Best. Food. Ever.

You've probably noticed a lot of zucchini recipes floating around Pinterest lately.  Or maybe that's just me.  Maybe a lot of my friends are obssessed with zucchini.  I am okay with that.

There was a time in my life though where I would not have been okay with that.  Most of my life, actually, I hated zucchini.  I have probably 8 saved school pieces that say somewhere in them that my most hated foods were onions, mushrooms and zucchini.  

So here's a random fact:  The night I got home from the hospital after I had Sweet Pea, I had a vicious craving for grilled zucchini and mushrooms. With onions.  So my mom made it and I ate a whole plate. I had never craved mushrooms before and never have since, but I still considered that meal some sort of rite of passage as a new parent, like because I was now a mom it was my job to love yucky foods.

I'll admit though (and my inner child cringes every time) I've actually loved zucchini for a while.  Somewhere in my teens I discovered grilled zucchini with butter garlic and I dove in and never looked back.  So all of these zucchini recipes have been intriguing.

I started seeing a few that were zucchini "spaghetti."  I love me some spaghetti; gluten-free noodles with red sauce and chicken meatballs were pretty much the only thing I ate during my first three months of pregnancy.  For whatever reason, it was the only thing that ever sounded good to me.  I also spaghetti squash, and I'm always looking for ways to add more veggies to our table, so I thought this zucchini idea looked great.  The idea is simple; you just use a vegetable peeler to make strips from the zucchini, then you pan fry it a little to soften it up and douse it in tomato sauce.

O.  M.  GEE.

I mean, I figured it would be good.  But I didn't ever imagine it would be this good.  And it is that good.  I think my adaptation is pretty out-of-this-world, so here's a recipe.  Well, a sort-of recipe.  I'm not really the go-to girl if you want exact measurements and stuff.  I'm more of the a-little-of-this, a-little-of-that, make-it-up-as-you-go girl.  But here's a "recipe" anyway.

Zucchini and Artichoke "Spaghetti"

1.  A random coupon to the mall
2.  A craving for spaghetti
3.  Some zucchini (3 small ones made dinner for us and one extra serving.  We were hungry.)
4.  A small can of marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
5.  Trader Joe's traditional marinara sauce, because it is the best (No, TJ's didn't pay me to say...but they can if they want?  Did you hear that, Trader Joe's?)
6.  About half an onion
7.  Salt and pepper  
8.  Olive oil
9.  One pound ground beef
10.  Basil

1.  When hubby gets home from work, leave the baby with him and head out to redeem your coupon at the mall because it's the last day before it expires.
2.  Get to the mall, and find out the store you were going to visit is closed for the evening because they are preparing for some super gigantic sale.
3.  Feel super mad because you don't get to use your coupon, nor enjoy some mommy-alone-time shopping sans baby.
4.  In the midst of your fury, develop a sudden craving for spaghetti
5.  Remember that you are across the street from Trader Joe's, the store that sells your very favorite spaghetti sauce in the whole wide world.
6.  Peace out of that mall joint and head to Trader Joe's
7.  Remember the zucchini spaghetti from Pinterest and decide it's worth a shot.  If all else fails, you can eat the delicious spaghetti sauce with a spoon because it is that good.
8.  Buy groceries.
9.  Call husband and ask him to brown the beef for you.  Walk him through draining and rinsing.
10.  Tell husband, "Great job!"
11.  Go home and slice your zucchini with a vegetable peeler.  Try to make the strips small.  Stop when you get to the soft, inner core.  You can dice that part if you want.
12.  Try not to slice your fingers with the peeler.  Probably fail.
13.   To the pan with the browned, drained and rinsed ground beef, add some diced onion to taste.  Cook until just soft.
14.  Chop the marinated artichoke hearts.  Don't leave these out!  They seriously make the dish.
15.  Add the strips of zucchini and cook until they are just soft.  You'll want to stir often and keep the zucchini al dente.
16.  Once the zucchini is soft, add the artichoke hearts with about half their juice to the pan.
17.  Season with salt (easy) and pepper (generous) and add about half the jar of sauce.
18.  Serve it up and garnish with basil.  Try to share.  Feel super healthy and awesome.

This dish is so insanely good.  We fought over the last bowl.  Sweet Pea ate a ton.  It took a total of about 10 minutes to make.  DO IT.  NOW.

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