I like to keep my cupboard stocked with plenty of non-perishable ingredients ready to throw together into a quick meal. One of my favourite pantry regulars is the Barilla range of pasta sauces. I have always preferred the Barilla pasta over the other brands, so when the local supermarket started stocking other Barilla products I was keen to try them as well. I was not disappointed — the pesto is amazing, and the pasta sauces are very tasty with the added bonus of being free of any strange additives or starchy thickeners which some other pasta sauces contain. This means that I can make recipes (such as the one in this post) that are almost completely starch free whenever I like. I’m not a coeliac, but at one stage thought I would have to cut starch from my diet, so I did spend a few weeks experimenting with starch free cooking. The recipe on this page was one of my saviours during those difficult weeks (I discovered almost everything contains some sort of starch!)
I’d suggest anyone grab a jar of this pasta sauce from the shelf and take a look at the ingredients — it’s all tomatoes, spices and vegetables, just as you would make it at home. There are absolutely no bizarre, unrecognisable ingredients or scary additive numbers. These days it’s a relief to see an ingredients list that reads just like a recipe! And you do not have to use pasta sauces only with pasta — you can use them to beef up soup, or in a baked vegetable slice or really anything you can think of.
One of my other pantry regulars are jars of Always Fresh olives. I prefer the Sicilian green olives for snack platters (with cheese and pickles!), but for cooking the Kalamata olives provide a richer flavour. I have tried a lot of olives in jars over the years, and these seem to be the best olives outside of the deli, which is great because deli olives aren’t always that practical. I have, from time to time, tried other brands of olives but none have measured up — and in fact the last brand I tried (an inhouse supermarket brand) went into the bin almost straight away they were so awful.
But that’s enough discussion of the ingredients — on to the recipe.
Recipe — Zucchini ‘pasta’ with olives and pasta sauce
The base of this ingredient is the zucchini ‘pasta’, which is simply zucchini cut into long thin strips slightly thicker than fettucine. These are then sautéed in a deep frypan or heavy based saucepan with whatever other ingredients you happen to have. Today just happened to be an olive and tomato sauce based version.
- Cut your zucchini into long thin slices (the longer they are the more like pasta it will appear). I also sliced up leek and halved baby roma tomatoes. For this recipe I used two — zucchini but I ended up with too much pasta sauce so you could use at least one more.
- Sautée the vegetables on a relatively high heat until the zucchini begins to soften a little. At this point I also added a clove of garlic I had squeezed in a garlic press. Don’t let the zucchini get too soft as it will continue to cook while you add the rest of the ingredients.
- Add the other ingredients to warm through — in my case a few dozen Always Fresh kalamata olives, a few sprigs of Italian parsley and some Don sliced ham.
- Lastly pour in the pasta sauce and stir through briefly so it heats through — but not too long or your vegetables will get soggy.
- Now it’s ready to put on the plate, topped with a small amount of thinly sliced cheese.
Not only is this recipe delicious — it’s also very healthy. I have tried versions without pasta sauce, and also with butter beans, mushrooms and asparagus and other vegetables. Leave out the ham and it’s also vegetarian, while still being hearty enough to stop you missing the meat or the carbs.
Have you tried cooking with zucchini this way or have any other feedback or uses for pasta sauce? Please leave a comment below.