Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pasta Alternatives: Bacon Bolognese-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes & Zucchini Spaghetti

I recently came across two ideas for traditional pasta-based dishes that have omitted the pasta for other ingredients. If pasta doesn't sit well with you, these alternatives may help you enjoy some old Italian favourites. If you're just looking for something a little different, these recipes are also a little different.

Bacon Bolognese-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Adapted from: http://cafedelites.com/
Serves 8


  • 4 medium or 2 large yams/sweet potatoes
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 500 g bacon 
  • 1 kg ground beef
  • 398 ml of tomato sauce
  • 1 T vegetable stock powder
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh basil, chopped


Cook the bacon in a frying pan or oven at 375F until crispy. Remove from the heat and chop finely when cooled. Set the oven to 450F.

In order to bake the sweet potatoes with the prettiest results, bake them whole after cleaning them with warm water and poking a few holes in them. I sliced my very large potatoes in half in order to reduce the amount of baking time. With this method, the exposed flesh develops a skin that needs to be removed and discarded before serving.

While the potatoes are baking, sauté the onions, garlic and other vegetables in oil on medium heat until translucent. Add the ground beef and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the beef has cooked through. Add the tomato sauce, stock powder and bacon, mixing well.  Once the potatoes are baked, cut each of them in half, vertically and scoop out the potato until only half an inch lines the skin. Combine the potato in with the bolognese mixture.

Scoop the bolognese into the potato skins until filled and top with parmesan cheese. Broil on high for 5 minutes. Remove and top with chopped basil.

As tasty as they look.

Zucchini Pasta Primavera

A friend of mine recently purchased the Paderno spiral slicer (https://paderno.com) and has been raving about her re-inspired pasta dish that replaces spaghetti with zucchini noodles. Yep, the spiral slicer will give you long, spaghetti-like noodles from a zucchini. I had to give it a try. I wasn't interested in buying another appliance, but I had alternatives.

In the adjacent picture, I used the julienne slicing disc attachment on my KitchenAid food processor. I also experimented with a simple vegetable peeler and while neither tool gets the same results as the spiral slicer, it provides a viable substitute. This version is vegetarian, but my friend usually adds a few Italian sausages to her recipe. You need a good shot of protein in this dish to fill you up. I would add toasted pine nuts, or roasted chick peas if sausage doesn't work for you.

Adapted: From my head!

Serves 1


  • 2 small zucchinis
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • handful basil, chopped
  • handful cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated parmesan to taste


Slice/grate the zucchinis using the tool of your choice. For the vegetable peeler, I left the skins on and kept the end on the zucchinis to give me something to grip while I peeled. For the julienne slicer, I also left the skin on, but cut the ends off each of the zucchinis.

Warm the olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Sauté the garlic for a minute and then add the zucchini, tossing it thoroughly to coat it with the oil.  Let the zucchini heat up for about 2 minutes. I opted not to cook it further in order to keep the texture of the zucchini somewhat al dente. Too much heat time in the pan will also extract the water from the zucchini, causing the dish to get soggy. Add the tomato and basil, tossing well and remove from heat. Season with salt, pepper and parmesan cheese.