Zucchini and Spinach Spaghetti Marinara

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Are you hanging in there, friends? This week hasn’t been an easy one. I feel like bursting out High School Musical style and singing, “We’re all in this together!” Because we are. I am here for you and I know you are there for me. At least I’m pretty sure a few of you are there ūüėČ

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With the help of some healthy whole grain carbs, you’re about to feel much, much better about this week. I mean, come on. How could you not feel better with some of this in your life. I’m about to eat my computer screen just looking at this again.¬†
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Look what happens when you twirl a bite of pasta out from the center of your plate. You get a spaghetti wreath! Cute, right? Now that will put a smile on your face. No? Just me? Okay.
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Bread, pasta and carbs in general have developed a bad reputation among many Americans these days. But like everything in life, moderation is key. There is nothing wrong with a bowl of pasta every once in awhile, so I don’t know why I feel the need to justify it right now. But I just want to say that by adding some veggies to the dish, it can be just as healthful a meal as any, especially if you use whole grain noodles.¬†
Today I give you permission, in fact I urge you, to make yourself a bowl of hot, steamy pasta and savor every last healthy bite. 
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Zucchini and Spinach Spaghetti Marinara 

Makes 3-4 servings
Ingredients:
1/2 box whole grain spaghetti
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 small zucchini, shredded
1/4 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 cup marinara sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoons extra spicy seasoning
2 cups baby spinach leaves 
Salt and pepper to taste, if desired 
Directions:
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, drain and set aside. 
2. Meanwhile, add olive oil to large skillet and place on stovetop over medium heat. When hot, add shredded zucchini and sliced onion. Saute until vegetables become tender and brown, about 4-5 minutes. Add marinara sauce and spices to the skillet and stir. Cook 2-3 minutes, then turn heat down to low. Add spinach and pasta to the skillet. Toss everything to evenly coat with the sauce. Let cook 2-3 more minutes, until spinach just begins to wilt. Remove from heat and serve immediately. 

Stacked Parmesan Eggplant Marinara

Why hello there! My company is hosting our annual conference downtown this weekend and I am excited to see all of our hard work and planning come together. I’ll be working late tonight and most of tomorrow afternoon, but it comes with its perks too. Like free food.

Except no meat for this girl. I’m hoping for some shrimp. Shrimp and grits maybe?

Or something reminiscent of this Stacked Parmesan Eggplant Marinara would be nice too.

Eggplant is such an interesting vegetable. When I hold a whole one, I feel like I should throw it like a football. Anyone else? No? Okay, moving right along…

I knew Greg might would definitely have to be convinced to go for a meatless meal, made with eggplant of all things. The eggplant medallions were lightly dipped in a parmesan cheese and bread crumb mixture to bring the dish more to his level.  

Maybe Greg was just extra hungry that night, maybe he was just eating quickly to get it over with, or mayyybeeee he really liked it ūüôā Because he was almost done by the time I sat down with my plate.¬†
I think sticking with spaghetti noodles is best for this particular dish, and a good tomato-base sauce is key too. Serve the stack with roasted or steamed vegetables and I’ll bet you don’t miss the meat!
Stacked Parmesan Eggplant Marinara
Makes about 4 servings
Ingredients:
1 whole medium eggplant, sliced into medallions
1/3 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 cups cooked spaghetti
2 cups marinara sauce, heated on stovetop
Directions:
1. Preheat indoor grill, such as a George Foreman
2. Combine parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Add flour to another small bowl and the egg to yet another small bowl. 
3. Prepare eggplant medallions by dipping each to coat in flour first, then egg, then parmesan/breadcrumb mixture. 
4. When grill is ready, add coated eggplant to the grill and cook until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from grill and keep warm in 200 degree oven if necessary. Continue to cook eggplant on grill in batches until all have been cooked.
5. Add one eggplant medallion to plate. Top with spaghetti and another slice of eggplant. Continue to alternate layers as desired and top with heated marinara sauce. Serve immediately.