Pasta is the ultimate comfort food. A steaming bowl of fettuccine coated in a flavoursome sauce can make you fall in love, forget your ex or make a wintry Friday evening at home that much more cosy.
Unfortunately for some, a big bowl of pasta also signals bloating, cramps or spasms for hours or days later. If you are a coeliac or are sensitive to gluten, the pleasure sought in that delicious bowl is paid for – and it’s not pleasant.
Some get on just fine with gluten-free varieties of pasta, however, I just can’t. Some are too slimy and others have long lists of very refined ingredients I am not partial to.
So, this dish uses courgette noodles. Inspired by the paleo ‘scene’, it takes a wholesome vegetable and turns it into an excellent vessel for your favourite pasta sauce. There’s no mucking about with ingredients and kneading – all you need is a sharp knife and pasta joy is a few minutes away.
How many have you had today?
I developed this recipe for a client who struggled to comprehend how he could eat 5-7 portions of fruit and vegetables daily, so the sauce is heavy on the veg. However, as the courgette is relatively neutral in flavour, you can substitute any of your favourite pasta sauces.
This recipe delivers a whopping seven (that’s 7) portions* of vegetables! That’s 3.5 portions per serving. If you add in any of the other optional ingredients, you can shoot up the nutrient content of this delicious meal even more.
This dish is also a brilliant vitamin C boost. The peppers, tomatoes and courgettes will take you to pretty much 100% of your RDA (although you typically need a little more than that for great health) and the courgettes alone will provide you with around 40% of your vitamin A RDA (per serving)
This recipe is remarkably simple and the noodles are a great way to get young children to try a green veg.
Courgette Noodles and Tomato Sauce
For the noodles:
- 400g courgettes (about 2 med-large. The longer the better)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
For the sauce:
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2 anchovy fillets (optional)
- 1 tsp crushed chilli flakes or fresh chilli to taste
- 1 red or yellow pepper, sliced
- 1 can cherry tomatoes
- 1 cup Kalamata olives
- 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped (for garnish)
- Prepare the courgette noodles. Cut the courgettes into long thin strips using a sharp knife, a mandolin, spiraliser or a peeler
- In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on a low heat. Add the chilli, garlic and the onion and cook until translucent. It is important that the oil doesn’t get too hot
- Add the anchovies if using. These cook away to nothing, but add a lovely flavour. Just two fillets also add about 160mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
- While the onions are cooking, pit the olives and roughly chop.
- Add the peppers and sauté for another few minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, olives and vinegar to the pan. Stir well, cover and simmer for at least 10 minutes.
- Now, cook the noodles. Heat the coconut oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the courgette noodles and sauté them for a few minutes until just cooked.
- Check the seasoning of the sauce – add salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide the noodles into two warmed bowls and top with the sauce. Add a sprinkle of parsley and a drizzle of olive oil on top of each serving.
Optional extras: Boost the nutrient value of the dish by adding any of the following:
- ½ cup sliced mushrooms at step 5 (=1 portion veg)
- 2 cups of sliced kale – add to the sauce 2 minutes before serving (=2 portions veg)
- 1 cup sugarsnap peas – add to the sauce 5 minutes before serving (=1 portion veg)
- ½ cup frozen peas – add to the sauce 5 minutes before serving (=1 portion veg)
*Portions estimated based on the NHS fruit and vegetable portion guide.
This recipe is part of my Cleanse and Reset programme – a healthy start to the year with tasty, nourishing food. Get in touch for more details.