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Zucchini Sausage Skillet over brown rice, accompanied by cucumber slices tossed with lemon-tarragon dressing

A delicious twist on basic spaghetti:  Baking it with spinach, sausage and cheese melds the flavors deliciously and creates a one-dish meal that’s almost as good as lasagna—without all the work.  Use a smaller or larger amount of meat, as desired, or omit completely for a vegetarian version.

Serves:  4

Vegetarian Option

For the sausage, substitute a vegetarian Italian sausage (e.g., Morningstar Farms).  If you have difficulty crumbling it, chop with a chefs knife instead.  

Ingredient Notes

1.  Tomatoes  Tomatoes begin to come in season soon after zucchini, which is handy for this recipe.  However, should you make the dish before good, flavorful tomatoes appear in the markets, canned tomatoes can be substituted.  Use a 28-oz. can of diced tomatoes, mostly drained, or a 15-oz. can diced tomatoes and half of a 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes.  Muir Glen’s Fire-Roasted Tomatoes work particularly well in this recipe.  

2.  Pasta Option  Brown rice pasta (spirals, spaghetti, fettucini, etc.) can be substituted for the brown rice.

3.  Cheese Options  A wide range of cheeses would work with this dish:  mozzarella, cheddar, provolone, Parmesan, chevre, feta.

4.  Optional Herbs:  If the sausage doesn’t provide enough flavor, add ½ to 1 tsp. dried leaf oregano and basil.    

Zucchini Sausage Skillet

Sausage is a miracle ingredient.  Add a good-quality sausage to a dish and get instant flavor, without having to add a lot of spices or other flavoring ingredients.  Obviously, this makes it perfect for busy week night meals like this one–just remember to cook the rice the night before.  



1 ½ lbs. zucchini (3 med., 6-8” squash), sliced in half lengthwise, then cut into ¼” half moons  

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided in half

Saute Zucchini  Pour first half of oil into large saute pan and heat over medium high heat until fairly hot but not smoking.  Add half the zucchini and spread out evenly over saute pan.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Keep heat on medium high and allow zucchini to brown nicely (about 2-3 minutes) before turning with a spatula.  Cook and turn like this until slices are mostly browned on both sides.  Remove to soup bowl.  Repeat process with other half of zucchini then remove to soup bowl.

½  Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, cut in slices ¼” thick and 1” long

½ to ¾ lb. bulk Italian sausage, mild or hot, to taste

3-4 med. tomatoes, cut in ½” dice  

Saute Onion, Sausage and Tomatoes  In same sauté pan, heat ½ Tbsp. oil over medium heat until fairly hot but not smoking (i.e., a piece of onion will sizzle nicely when dropped in.)  Add onion and cook just 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

Crumble sausage into pan and continue cooking and stirring another 3-4 minutes to brown sausage.  Add tomatoes and cook 5-7 more minutes on medium-high heat, just long enough to slightly soften tomatoes and evaporate most of their juices.  Return zucchini to pan and continue cooking another 5 minutes to warm everything thoroughly.   If possible, turn off heat and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes.   

2 cups cooked brown rice

Freshly grated cheese (optional)

Serve  Serve immediately over warmed rice, topped by cheese, if desired.  

Zucchini Sausage Skillet over brown rice noodles, topped with low-fat sour cream and accompanied by sherried green beans

When Is Rice Done? Use a fork to “dig” down into rice.  If all the cooking water is gone (absorbed or evaporated), the rice should be done.  To double check, taste!  If rice is a little too chewy for your tastes, add      another ¼ cup of water, cook 5-10 more minutes then test again.

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