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When people decide to switch to the Paleo diet they often assume that they have to say good-bye to many dinner staples such as risottos, lasagna, spaghetti Bolognese and Shepherd’s Pie. But the truth is that all these dishes are perfectly suited to Paleo as long as you replace any grain-based ingredients with healthy vegetable alternatives.
Zucchetini Bologense is a Paleo take on the traditional fettuccine or spaghetti pasta with Italian beef and tomato ragu sauce. Thyme and star anise bring a little twist to the sauce and fresh lemon zest tossed through zucchini ribbons freshens up the dish.
This recipe makes enough sauce for at least four people plus leftovers. You can use the leftovers for a Mexican meal the next evening. Add extra cumin, chili and paprika spices to the sauce, make a salsa salad with fresh cherry tomatoes and mix a bowl of guacamole. Alternatively, you can use the sauce as a base for baked eggs or lasagna.
Zucchetini BologneseFor the sauce:
1kg grass-fed beef mince (use grass-fed meat if possible as it contains a healthier ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids)
3 tbsp macadamia oil
1 large brown onion, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 cup dry red wine
800gm tomato passata or diced canned tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 1/2 tsp celtic sea salt (it contains more minerals and trace elements than a more refined, common table salt; sea salt is a good alternative)
2/3 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 star anise
½ tsp red chili flakes
1 packed tbsp fresh thyme leavesFor zucchetini:
4 medium green zucchinis
1 lemon, zest only
A good pinch of sea or celtic salt
1 tbsp ghee
1. Heat macadamia oil in a large saucepan. Sauté onion on medium heat until golden and translucent. Break beef mince into small pieces and add to the onions. Fry on high heat until the colour changes from red to desaturated brown. I use a potato masher to break the meat down as it tends to clump together during cooking. Stir frequently to make sure all meat bits are fried evenly. This should take about 8-10 minutes.
2. Keeping the heat high, add red wine, chopped garlic, carrot, black pepper, paprika, star anise, thyme and salt. Stir through and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding tomato passata and tomato paste. Bring to boil then turn the heat down to simmering temperature. Cook covered for 1 hour. Stir through every 15 minutes or so.
3. In the meantime prepare zucchetini. Cut zucchinis into thin slices going lengthways first and then cut those into fettuccine thick strips.4. After an hour, take the lid off and cook the sauce on high heat for a further 5-10 minutes. This will reduce the ragu a little.
5. Heat a frying pan with 1 tablespoon of ghee to sizzling hot. Toss zucchini strips with lemon zest and sea salt and sauté on high heat for a minute. You want to warm and soften the zucchini strips slightly so they keep a slightly crunchy, ‘al dente’ texture. If you cook them for too long you'll end up with soggy vegetables.
6. Serve zucchini strips with beef ragu sauce, and some fresh thyme and lemon zest scattered on top.Other Paleo dinner staples:
Vegetarian no-rice risotto
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