I swore up and down that I wasn't going to buy one of those stupid vegetable spiralizer things, and the next thing I know, I was typing in my VISA number over at Inspiralized. What pushed me over the edge was a recipe that looked so yummy I had to try it. And I did, and it was ... meh. I think it was the first time I've ever not loved something from Simply Recipes. Sigh. Anyhow, I'll post it here anyhow, in case anyone wants to try it (everyone else on that site seemed to like it)—or maybe you can figure out what went wrong with mine.
3 pounds zucchini
1½ tablespoons kosher salt, divided use
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used a little more because I used garlic-herb chicken sausage.)
8 ounces Italian sausage
1½ cups diced onion
1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
¾ cup ricotta cheese (We are not ricotta fans.)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350° and lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
2. Using a spiralizer, make zucchini noodles ("zoodles"—gah!) with the device. You should have a generous 8 cups of zucchini noodles. Place in a colander in the sink. Snip the zoodles with scissors here and there to keep them from tangling too much. Toss them with 1 tablespoon of the salt. Let the zoodles drain of excess moisture while you make the sauce.
3. Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with the olive oil and heat over medium heat. Remove the sausage meat from the casings and add it to the pan. Gently cook the sausage, breaking it up into clumps, until it is just cooked through and lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl. Discard all but 1 tablespoons of oil/rendered fat. (I actually had to add a little more.)
4. Add the onion to the pan and cook until softened and lightly colored, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
5. Return the sausage to the pan and add the crushed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer. Cook for 5 to 6 additional minutes. Stir in the basil and the remaining ½ tablespoon salt.
6. While the sauce is simmering, use a clean dish towel to squeeze more moisture out of the zucchini noodles. (You will be surprised at how much liquid comes out!)
7. Add the zucchini noodles to the pan with the tomato-sausage sauce. Gently stir to combine so that all of the noodles are coated with sauce. Transfer to the greased baking dish and spread into an even layer.
8. Arrange the ricotta in clumps on the casserole. Press the ricotta into the zucchini noodles to penetrate the casserole a bit. Mix the mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese together and sprinkle over the top in an even layer. Bake until the top is lightly browned and bubbly, about 35 minutes. (Mine was deeply browned after 10 minutes—what the??) Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
So, this was fine, and we all ate it. The flavor was good enough. The main complaints was that it didn't really hold together like a casserole; it was kind of soupy under the melted cheese. Maybe I needed even more zucchini? And more sausage? Also, why was it done so quickly in my oven? Anyhow, it certainly wasn't as good as the Zucchini Pizza Casserole I've made a few times; that one uses 2 eggs as a binder.
Who out there has a spiralizer, and what do you use it for? Please don't tell me I just bought an expensive paperweight with very sharp edges.