Are you ready for a Zucchini Runner dish that only takes 10 minutes to prepare? I sure hope so! One of the things I hear most often is that people don’t have time to cook, and because I understand where people are coming from, I created this dish.
Last week we made a version of this recipe that was all from scratch. We used our leftover homemade marinara, cut our own veggies and boiled the noodles first. THEN we added it all to a casserole dish and baked it for 20 minutes. The finished product was delicious and only took both of us cooking/prepping together 55 minutes. But I wanted to see if I could create a version with less hands on time, and less dishes. (Sneak peek: if you like this recipe, be sure to catch the bonus video at the bottom of the post!)
In my household an hour prep time for dinner is totally normal and enjoyed by us… 90% of the time. We both work from home so no commute time or juggling schedules, therefore we both typcially work on dinner together and we don’t have any kids — it’s just us in the kitchen, jamming to music and cooking food. Mr. Zucchini Runner and I have talked about this A LOT; that other people don’t have some of the time luxuries, or freedom, that we do.
That’s why I was bound and determined to test a packaged version, to see if the finished product could still be healthy and taste great! In the taste arena – YES, it passed with flying colors. It tasted delicious; even passed the test of my 24 year old niece and her boyfriend. She watched me make it and exclaimed, “Hey! Even I can make this!” So, yes, it takes 10 minutes to throw together, but it still takes 50 minutes to cook. But that is 50 minutes where you could do a workout, help a kiddo with homework, enjoy some couch time, whatever! But I promise you, it’s only 10 minutes in the kitchen.
Now, the health arena… I give it a B-/C+. The main thing I will caution against… (because come on, my whole goal here on this blog is to be a resource for those who want to think outside the norm; to focus on eating whole, plant-based foods, that you make yourself from the freshest source possible) is the marinara in a jar. Check the ingredients! Read all the labels. Watch out for hidden sugars and boatloads of sodium. Look for something low sugar, low sodium/no salt added.
Sugar Situation: How much is too much, anyway?
The maximum daily sugar intake for an adult female is 25g; the max for a male is 38g. So if you are buying a marinara sauce that has 10g per serving, which is usually a 1/2 cup, then you are cutting it close to maxing out in just one sitting, especially depending on how much sauce you like. If you make the sauce at home, you get to control how much sugar (or lack thereof) that you add to the sauce.
This dish was delicious, and I loved the low maintenance aspect of it, but we both felt like we had hangovers the next day — and later realized it was from the sodium content. We do NOT use a lot of salt in this house, and if we do it’s Real salt or himalayan salt. In a 1/2 cup of sauce, there was 550 mg of sodium! To put this in perspective, the daily allowance is no more than 2,300 mg/day. HOWEVER, the ideal limit is 1,500 mg/day for most healthy adults. The body only needs 500 mg/day to function properly. So even if we just had a serving size of one half cup, we would still be over what our body actually needs. Furthermore, 550mg per 1/2 cup (serving size) of sauce is the equivalent of 1/4 tsp. of salt. And lastly, there is this little, fun fact:
“More than 75 percent of the sodium Americans eat comes from some processed, prepackaged and restaurant foods – not from the salt shaker.”
– American Heart Association
So now that I said my bit on added sugars and sodium, please feel free to enjoy this recipe with a heart-healthy marinara sauce of your choice.
3 cups GF macaroni noodles (or your favorite noodle)
2 – 25 oz. jars of marinara sauce (look for low sodium and low sugar)
2 – 16 oz. bags of mixed, organic vegetables (we did corn, pea, carrot, green bean)
6 TBSP. chopped dried onion (optional)
- Place uncooked noodles in a 9″ x 12″ baking dish.
- Pour one jar of marinara sauce over noodles and stir.
- Sprinkle 3 TBSP. chopped dried onion over sauce layer. (optional)
- Using a strainer, rinse mixed veggies with hot water to defrost a bit. Pour over sauce layer.
- Pour second jar of marinara sauce over veggie mixture.
- Sprinkle remaining 3 TBSP. chopped dried onion on top if desired.
- Finish with second bag (rinsed with hot water again), frozen veggies.
- Cover with foil and bake at 375°F for 50 minutes, or until the noodles are cooked through.
- Serve immediately. Great as leftovers or to take to lunch the next day or for the week even! Can be served alone or with a fresh, green salad.
Enjoy the step by step instructions in the slideshow below!
Looking for more quick recipes like this?
We don’t cook hour long meals for every meal, every day, somedays we are like normal humans and throw quick things together — while still being healthy and plant-based. A lot of these I post in my Instagram Stories, as I’m making them. They are only available for 24 hours on IG, so you need to catch them and follow along if you are interested in more like this! I clipped these videos/photos together from yesterday’s IG story, so you can get a preview of what I mean.
This lunch was simply a bunch of my favorite frozen veggies, thrown into a steamer and then topped with some boxed beans that had been rinsed and drained. I then topped it with a drizzle of salad dressing and a few splashes of liquid aminos.
The steamer I use is a little fancy, but you can get a simple basket like this one, or get a something a little more like mine and go this route. You just need to throw it all in the pot with the steamer insert, cover and then turn your heat on high until the water in the pot boils, producing steam. Once you have the steam going, you really only need to cook the veggies for about 2-5 minutes. (Which reminds me, be sure you have a good kitchen timer on hand too!) You want everything to be BRIGHTER than when you put them into the pot, not washed out or have muted colors.
Is this amount of time doable for your schedule? Which type of recipe do you prefer more? Casserole or a boatload of veggies?
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