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Jessica’s Garden: Oodles of Zoodles

Grayson Checking on the Garden
Grayson Checking on the Garden

What a beautiful week! It’s been sunny and warm during the day and crisp and cool at night. We’ve had all the windows open for a couple weeks now just airing out the house and soaking in all the fresh night air. This weather has been a perfect start for the Fall seedlings. The transplants that were added to the garden over the past couple weeks are looking great.

They seem to be enjoying the bright sun during the day and the relief of the coolness at night. The little beet seedlings have made their appearance too. I planted a mix of heirloom beets about ten days ago and they have already germinated nicely. Grayson crouches down low to the ground and lovingly calls them beet babies– and makes sure to add that he himself is not a baby.

We had a few friends over this weekend for supper and while I tend not to try out new recipes on company, I took a risk this weekend, and luckily it panned out. I had roasted another sugar pumpkin (see last week’s entry for recipe) earlier in the week and needed to use it up. Lots of magazines and food shows say that pumpkin in such a versatile fruit. I’ve seen lots of recipes using it as a pasta sauce. Now I love carbs, a lot, but I try to stay away as much as possible from empty carbohydrates to make a valid attempt at eating healthy and wholesome. Sometimes I cheat with wholegrain pasta. At this point, my husband Chris can hardly tell the difference between regular pasta and wholegrain.

Zoodles with Sausage and Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
Zoodles with Sausage and Pumpkin Pasta Sauce

But this week, we had sausage and pumpkin sauce over ’zoodles’ (julienned zucchini) and carrots picked fresh from my Dad’s raised garden. They are a delicious, vegetarian and healthy alternative to traditional pasta. It was colorful and delicious and healthy and wholesome; a satisfying and guilt-free meal. I had searched the internet for a of couple recipes and adapted my own based on what I like and what I had already in the pantry. And then I went to Wegman’s. As someone who enjoys cooking and food, this was an overwhelming and awesome shopping and culinary experience. I put my blinders on and went straight for the few things I needed.

I like to include protein in my meals so that they are tasty and filling. Who knew that you could find so many kinds of sausage?! I was under-prepared for the selection that awaited me. After several moments of deliberation at the meat case, I settled on a ‘Wine and Cheese’ pork sausage that paired wonderfully with the sauce. I served my creation with a side of roasted heirloom rainbow carrots, onions, cauliflower and parsnips and a slice of fresh rosemary bread.

Zucchini (Zoodles) and Carrot Noodles:
Serves: 4

4-5 Firm and Fresh Zucchini or Yellow Squash
5 Medium Sized Carrots

Peel carrots. Julienne both carrots and squash into long and thin strands. Set aside. Bring large pot of water to boil, add a generous amount of salt to water (about 1 Tbsp). Once water boils, add vegetables and boil for about 2-3 minutes. Drain and serve topped with sauce.

Tips: Avoid the seeded centers of the squash; they are a less pleasant texture than the meat of the vegetable, especially if the squash aren’t small and tender. I like to cook them only for a couple of minutes because I like a little bite and crispness to the veggie noodles; it adds texture to the meal so it’s not all mushy and soft. I’ve made zoodles with red sauce and that is also fantastic.

Pumpkin Pasta Sauce
Serves 4-6

1 Lb. Savory Flavored Sausage (Italian, Sage, etc…)
15 Oz (About 2 C) Pureed Pumpkin (See last week’s entry for easy homemade recipe)
Coarse Sea or Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary
1 Garlic Clove, finely chopped
¼ C Fat Free half & half
¼ C Reduced Fat Sour Cream
1/3 Cup Fresh Shaved Parmesan
½ C – 1 C Dry White Wine (Depending on how much you like wine; I used a full cup)

Cut sausage into 1” sections. In a large skillet, brown sausage and cook all the way through. Remove from pan and set aside. Drain off rendered fat. Add olive oil and rosemary. Gently fry rosemary until it is crispy but not burnt. Remove rosemary with slotted spoon and set aside until the end. Add pumpkin, salt, pepper, garlic, half and half, sour cream and white wine. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook lightly; about 3 minutes. Do not boil; boiling and over-cooking will cause the dairy to curdle. Add rosemary again. Serve over zucchini and carrot noodles garnished with shaved parmesan. I did not try it this time, but will the next round; a pinch of nutmeg for good measure.

Flea Market Haul
Flea Market Haul
Flea Market Coffee Bean Sacks
Flea Market Coffee Bean Sacks

I cannot wait to share my newest upcycling adventures with you all. I am currently under the process of transforming a $2 vintage coffee table/yard sale find into a funky and functional ottoman. I also woke the little monster up early Saturday morning, gave him a few coins to jingle in his pocket and dragged him to the most amazing flea market I’ve scoured yet.

I walked away with $36.50 worth of fantastic finds including the 6’ shipping crate that is begging to be transformed into a linen closet for the farmhouse. I’m working on convincing my husband to let me whip up some coffee bean sack curtains for our back pantry. It’s a farmhouse; it’s meant to have burlap. But that’s a battle for another day.

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford, Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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