Recipe: 20-Minute Meat Sauce and Zoodles

20-Minute Meat Sauce and Zoodles | Freckled Italian

I personally think the best kinds of recipes are the ones you throw together without a plan and then realize it’s so good that you have to write it down so you remember how to make it again, and that’s what this is! I’m a huge fan of a delicious, slow-simmered meat sauce on spaghetti or zucchini noodles (or over rice, or with a fried egg, or some greens…really I’ll put meat sauce on or under anything), but sometimes I don’t have the time, energy, or ingredients to make it happen.

This “sauce” has like 6 ingredients and took me 20 minutes to whip up. I spiralized a couple big zucchini and tossed the noodles in a skillet, threw them in a couple bowls, and topped it with my quick meat sauce and some fresh herbs from my patio. It was a quick, easy, and delicious Monday night dinner when I otherwise might have ordered takeout.


  • 2 large zucchini, spiralized

  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

  • 3/4 of a white onion, diced

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 pound of ground beef

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of tomato paste

  • About 1/2 cup of water or broth (chicken, beef, or veggie would work)

  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, if you’ve got ‘em

  • A couple tablespoons of chopped green onion and fresh basil (optional but recommended)

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

  • Parmesan cheese for topping (optional but also recommended)


  1. In a large pan, heat olive oil and sauté onion over medium heat. Cook for 4-5 minutes and add the garlic. Season with salt and pepper. (While that’s going on you can salt your zoodles—I recommend putting them in a colander and letting them sit with a generous amount of salt on them for at least 10 minutes.)

  2. Add the beef and cook until browned, using a wooden spoon to break beef apart into smaller chunks. Raise heat slightly and cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour the water in and add tomato paste, stirring well to combine until smooth.

  3. Add about half of the green onion and basil. Toss in the cherry tomatoes and allow them to cook until some of them start to wilt or burst. Season everything with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.

  4. Rinse the zucchini noodles and add to the pan. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or until cooked to your liking (I prefer mine a bit on the underdone side so they’re still nice and crunchy).

  5. Transfer zoodles to bowls, top with sauce, and finish with some Parmesan cheese and the remaining green onion and basil. Serve immediately.

Like I mentioned earlier, you could serve this with regular pasta, stir it into rice, or even eat it plain (which is what I did for breakfast yesterday)—it’s pretty chunky so it’s not soupy or super saucy to eat on its own.