Whatever Floats Your Zucchini Boat
I had leftover chopped meat from a meaty mixture I made earlier in the week. I also had leftover sauce. Technically, this does not a real bolognese make ... but it's Wednesday, what the hell do you want from me? I'm just a single woman trying to survive in the big city ... on her savings ... while building a wellness business ...
Bootleg Bolognese: when you’ve made a pot of sauce and a chopped meat mixture separate of one another and then combine later because you’re single and think … well I don’t want a whole pot of meaty sauce and leftovers, but plain sauce would be good. And, oh, that meat might be useful to stuff another vegetable this week or can be thrown over a pasta, grain or salad while I try to tantalize my palate on a budget.
These really are my cooking thoughts most days. Welcome to my mind.
The base of this bolognese is quick and simple to prepare, using only a little butter, onions, whole nutmeg and chopped meat. And here’s where you can get saucy with yourself, as I like making a batch of this sauce once or twice a month so I’m always freezer stocked for late nights and budget dinners.
This here bootleg bolognese is so simple to make, you may actually stop bitchin' and get in your kitchen. No hours of cooking here, just minutes.
Please note you should have a lotta this shit in your house already if you plan on being a freestyle home cook
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes *I like Cento + Scalfani
- 5 T. of butter for pot of sauce + 2 T. for browning onions + meat
- 1 lb ground beef
- 3 large onions
- Half + Half
- Whole Nutmeg
Step #1: Get Saucy
- Prepare sauce
And if you would just listen to me and make the sauce every other week so you had some stock in your home, you wouldn't be starting from the beginning every time you had to make a damn meal!
Step #2: The Stuffing Base
The below will stuff 4 vegetable cavities, from zucchini to butternut squash, peppers or even cabbage leaves
- 2 T. Butter
- 1 16 oz. package ground beef
- 1 large onion, diced
- Whole Nutmeg
- Add butter and onions to a skillet and set over medium flame, cooking for 5-7 minutes or until translucent
- Add meat and saute until cooked and brown, about 7-10 minutes
- Finish by salting to taste and grating 1 whole nutmeg
At this point I like to reserve 1/2 of the mixture so I have it for stuffed sweet potatoes, veggies, pasta, bean, bowl and salad mix in's during the week - but if you're feeding a whole family, use the whole lot
Step #3: Making Your Bootleg Bolognese + Boats
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Add 2-2.5 cups of pre-made sauce to your meat mixture and cook until heated through, finish with 1 T. of half + half if you like a sauce with a slightly more pink tone
- Cut zucchini's lengthwise and remove flesh with a spoon by scraping until cavity forms and you can save the insides for muffins and other stuffings or discard
- Fill zucchini cavity with bolognese
- Top with a mountain of pecorino
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until saucy is bubbly, cheese is gooey and zucchini boats are slightly browned along the edges and bottom
Swaps + Notes
- Not big on beef? That's ok, this will work with turkey, chicken, pork, lamb, veal. You name your meat, you got it!
- Vegan or Veggie? Tempeh makes a killer substitute here. And butter can be replaced with Earth Balance or olive oil in the sauce recipe and sauting of the tempeh and onions.
- Want more veggies? Beef up that beef with spinach, swiss chard or any other quick cooking finely cut green - like collards or kale.
- Wanna split your meat? Of course you do! You get more bang for your buck that way. I always take 1/2 of this mixture and then go wild adding other greens and or some leftover grains to get more mileage from one meal, that way I can stuff another veggie and keep that variety strong!