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.

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Instructions:

  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.

Recipe: Garlicky Mushrooms on Toast

Garlicky Mushrooms on Toast | Freckled Italian

First of all, is there a better word than "garlicky?" I don't think there is--I love it so much.

Rob and I have been watching a few episodes of Chef's Table here and there and I really enjoyed learning about Dominique Crenn and her San Francisco restaurant Atelier Crenn. I also got excited about Petit Crenn, a less formal (and much less expensive) restaurant from the same chef--I'm hoping Rob and I might be able to get there for brunch one weekend soon. One of my favorite things to do is look at restaurant menus, and I was super inspired by her mushroom tartine. 

We don't really keep bread in the house much, but when we do it's always sourdough and I really love it. I had some mushrooms as well and decided to sauté them as usual (tons of butter, plenty of garlic), but instead of serving them as a side with dinner, I spooned them onto buttered toast and had them for lunch.

Garlicky Mushrooms on Toast | Freckled Italian

10/10, would make again.

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces of sliced mushrooms--whatever you like, I use baby bellas
  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 slices of sourdough bread, toasted
  • A sprinkle of crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped scallions

Instructions: 

  1. In a large skillet, melt about half of the butter over medium-high heat. 
  2. Add the mushrooms and stir well to get every side covered in butter. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until browned. 
  3. Add the minced garlic and continue to cook, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Cook another 4-5 minutes, until mushrooms are cooked and completely browned (I like them a little crispy). Stir in a little more butter, reserving some for the toast. Remove from heat.
  4. Toast your bread and allow to cool slightly. Spread remaining butter onto the bread and top with mushrooms. Garnish with scallions and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper, if desired.
Garlicky Mushrooms on Toast | Freckled Italian

I'm a pretty big fan of butter, especially for this recipe, but if you're vegan or dairy-free you could totally use olive oil instead and it would still be delicious.

Move over, avocado toast.

Recipe: Savory Oatmeal Breakfast Bowls

Savory Oatmeal Breakfast Bowl Recipe | Freckled Italian

When I was strict Paleo, I went through a phase where I didn't eat oatmeal for several years. After I got pregnant, my food values shifted a bit as I was open to eating anything that didn't make me feel even more nauseated. Now that I'm nursing, I try to eat oatmeal every day because it's easy, filling, and supposedly good for milk production. Usually I just throw it in the microwave and eat it plain with a little sprinkle of salt, but if I have a few extra minutes I like to make one of these savory oatmeal breakfast bowls. 

I've shared a few pictures on Instagram Stories and every time I get a handful of messages from people asking for the recipe or just expressing their surprise that you can put cheese and onions in oatmeal. I'm not a big sweet breakfast person, so I prefer this over more traditional cinnamon and brown sugar oatmeal. It's also a great way to clean out your fridge, and it makes a delicious lunch as well as a hearty breakfast.

You can customize your bowl however you like, but this is my go-to recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 of an onion, sliced or diced
  • 3-4 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 egg
  • A splash of olive oil or a little butter, for cooking
  • 1/4 cup of shredded cheese
  • A big handful of spinach (you could chop this to make it a little easier to eat but I usually just throw it in)
  • About 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder (or a fresh clove of garlic if you have it, chopped)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce (optional)

Instructions: 

  1. In a large pan, heat olive oil or melt butter. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned and a little crispy--another 4-5 minutes. Remove from pan or push to the side to make room for your egg.
  2. Crack egg into pan and cook over medium-high heat. Cook to your liking--I'm a big fan of over medium but you could totally scramble it instead. I've also used hard and soft-boiled eggs I had in the fridge.
  3. While your egg is cooking, combine oats and water in a bowl. Microwave according to instructions (usually 2 minutes) and carefully remove from microwave (the bowl is always hot as hell). Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Add the cheese and stir to combine.
  4. Add your spinach, mushrooms, and onion. Top with fried egg and a little hot sauce. 

I've made these with bacon and broccoli and every other meat or veggie that I have in the fridge. I love coming up with new combinations based on whatever leftovers I have. If you come up with a fun one, let me know! Enjoy!