Let’s face it, we’re all tired at the end of the day and cooking a gourmet meal for ravenous little people at nightmare hour doesn’t seem logical (or wise – you should see my 3 children at 5pm)!
So to kick off the new series we are starting with meals which can be prepared in a flash after a busy day. I’ve tried to make healthier versions of the typical family favourites (to ensure co-operation from younger members of your family) and tonight we are starting the series with a firm favourite … pasta carbonara.
I like to eat gluten free (mostly) due to my Grave’s Disease, so there is no wheat pasta in my version of this creamy dish. Speaking of cream, well you won’t find any of that here either. This dish is wheat, gluten, dairy and egg free.
I’ve measured this dish on a per person basis to ensure no wastage, therefore you will need to add as much or as little as recommended per person. If you want, prepare a little more than needed to have as leftover lunch to ensure you have a healthy meal the following day.
This dish should take no more than 15-20 minutes including prep and cooking time. It’s nutritious, full of vitamins and a healthier alternative to the traditional pasta carbonara.
Zucchini Fettuccine Carbonara
- Zucchini (I used 2 per adult and 1 per child)
- 3x cloves garlic
- 1 brown onion
- Ham (I use about 2 slices per person for a light meal or 4 for dinner)
- Peas (just toss ’em in, no need to measure – use as much or as little as you like)
- Parsley (a handful)
- Chard (or baby spinach) – a small handful per person
For the sauce
- Coconut Milk – (I used 1/2 cup for one serving – toss in the whole can (milk and cream) if making for more people). You can add water if too thick.
- 1 tbs Tahini
- 1 tbs Dijon Mustard
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
- 1/4 lemon per person
- Salt and Pepper
Peel skin off zucchini (you can use it in this dish if you like or pop it in a container and use it in a green smoothie for breakfast). Using a vegetable peeler, shave down the zucchini to create strips of ‘fettuccine’. Reserve for later.
Peel, crush and chop garlic cloves and add to olive oil in fry pan. Add brown onion and fry until transparent (about 2 minutes). Chop ham into bite sized pieces and add to onion mix. Fry for another 2 minutes or until ham starts to brown.
Add zucchini strips to ham mix and toss to combine. Fry for 3-4 minutes until zucchini starts to soften. Then add peas, parsley and chard (or baby spinach). Toss and turn heat down to medium.
Prepare sauce by adding all the ingredients into a jar and stirring with a fork until combined. Pour over the zucchini mix and toss to combine. If zucchini is soft you can remove from heat now, if not cook for a few more minutes or until zucchini has softened.
Serve in individual bowls and season with salt and pepper. Add one lemon wedge on the side to be squeezed over before eating. You could also add chilli on top if you like a bit of heat.
** Try this dish with left over chicken instead of ham or add mushrooms for extra protein and a rich, earthy flavour.
You can easily make this vegetarian or vegan by omitting the ham or replacing it with tempeh or tofu. It could even be enjoyed raw if you prefer – and that would make it even faster to prepare.
Don’t be afraid of the zucchini noodles if this is your first introduction. When cooked correctly they’re so delicious you won’t even realise you’re not eating pasta.
Another one not to be afraid of is coconut milk. There’s actually a lot of new evidence which states that eating fat doesn’t make you fat. Some even go so far as suggesting that people who eat full fat products actually eat less than those who eat low fat due to triggering brain receptors which make you feel satiated and full. I’m also not a fan of low fat coconut milks due to the added ingredients. If you have to have a low fat diet for medical reasons, perhaps replace the coconut milk with smooth ricotta cheese instead (I haven’t tried this so if you do be sure to leave a comment) or use low fat coconut milk if on strict orders from your doctor.
However, for the rest of us, I believe that when combined with nutrient dense, low calorie foods such as those in this recipe, you are getting a complete meal packed full of vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients. Green peas are are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients and are high in vitamin K, manganese and folate while zucchinis are an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin B6.
A delicious, healthy meal in under 20 minutes!
Go forth and enjoy! – You won’t know what to do with all that free time!