Hands down, my favorite keto substitute for pasta is spiralized zucchini, or zoodles. They are easy to make with a hand spiralizer and look and feel like spaghetti when prepared right. This is a “last chance” meal I pulled together to save my grape tomatoes. They are completely optional. I used ground beef patties because they are already portioned (helps with tracking) but you can use regular bulk ground beef, too–which I usually do.
I have grown up making spaghetti for my sisters. It’s an affordable and easy way to feed six growing girls. Mama would pack the pantry with family sized jars of sauce, ground beef in bulk, and boxed dried spaghetti. I remember dumping two boxes at a time into a large pot of boiling water like it was yesterday. My favorite part of making spaghetti was making the meat sauce. I used Lawry’s seasoned salt, garlic and onion powders, and chopped up yellow onion on the ground beef and browned it in a pan. I loved the way the sauce sizzled when added to the meat, signalling dinner was finally ready. If we had any leftovers, we ate them cold on white bread. So good.
Now that I’m about that #ketolife, there’s no more cold spaghetti sandwiches in my future. And there is no pasta. Zoodles fill the void. When spiralizing started to trend I made zoodles all the time. They were watery and mushy and thinned out sauces after I would saute them. No bueno. So, I stopped cooking them. Yes, you heard right. They key to a great zoodle is to prepare them raw. The heat and salt from any sauce you choose will warm and soften the zoodles to a nice aldente texture, providing the firmness that you loose when sauteing them. And it saves time. Make the zoodles “to order” even with the leftover sauce, and you will never have a mushy keto pasta again.
- 1 jar of no sugar added past sauce
- 1/2 lb of ground beef
- 1 cup grape tomatoes (optional)
- 1/3 cup diced onions
- 3 cloves garlic (minced or crushed)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp Sazondor (garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, dried herbs)
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 medium zucchini per serving
- In a medium bowl, season thawed ground beef with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and paprika.
- Add a diced small onion (I used shallots here but yellow onion is ideal) and add to bowl. Mix and set aside.
- Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to heated pan and add tomatoes. Saute tomatoes until they begin blister and pop. Smash them gently to release the juices. This step is optional.
- Add ground beef mixture and brown in pan on medium to medium high heat.
- Drain fat. This step is important because we want to remove any extra liquid. The zoodles will produce a lot.
- Return ground beef to pan and add jarred spaghetti sauce on medium heat. Stir occasionally and bring to simmer. Add basil. Cover and reduce heat to low. *Do not add water to thin if the sauce thickens up. The zoodles will produce a lot of liquid to thin the sauce.
- While sauce is simmering, spiralize the zucchini with a hand spiralizer using fluid motions into a bowl or plate. Use the THICK side. This works best with a zucchini that has an even thickness throughout.
- Remember to be careful as you get to the end of the zucchini and stop when you can no longer turn it safely. You can eat the the pencil looking nub instead of tossing it out.
- Top with 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir to coat the zoodles.
- Spoon the HOT meat sauce on the zoodles and garnish with Parmesan cheese and basil to taste.
- Mix the zoodles and the sauce and eat after two to three minutes. The longer the meat sauce and zoodles sit together the softer the zoodles get and the waterier the sauce will get. Test how long you want this to sit until it’s perfect for you.
- Spiralize the zoodles right before serving as needed. This recipe is for one serving with leftover sauce. To have as leftovers just use the sauce and spiralize the zucchini before serving.
Note: If your zoodles don’t seem to be softening with just adding the hot meat sauce, (likely when reheated in the microwave) put the zoodles and meat sauce in the microwave covered for one minute.