Beef and Kale Ragu with Zucchini Noodles

Beef and Kale Ragu with Zucchini Noodles is a healthy and delicious alternative to spaghetti and meat sauce. 

Eliminating the pasta for zucchini noodles is a wonderful concept…first, you get to use the spiralizer that may be sitting in the back of your cabinet and second, you eliminate all those unhealthy carbs.

And, the beef sauce, which is flavored similarly to sausage with toasted fennel seeds, gets a boost of healthy from the addition of lots of veggies, including kale.  You will love this filling, cold-weather “pasta” dish without any guilt!

Prep this dish by spiralizing zucchini.  Place it into a colander with some kosher salt, and let it sit to draw out any extra moisture that’s in the zucchini.  Take the time to do this as it will go a long way toward not having mushy noodles and no one likes mushy noodles!!  

Make sure all of your vegetables are chopped before starting to brown the beef.  This is called “mise en place” and basically means everything in it’s place, ready to go!

Begin the cooking process by first toasting the fennel seeds.  Once toasted, I highly recommend crushing the seeds in a mortar with a pestle.  This releases the oils in the seeds and gives the sauce a deeper flavor.  If you don’t own a mortar and pestle, don’t worry about it…just toss the seeds into the stockpot with the ground beef.  Saute the beef and fennel seeds until the beef is cooked through, about 10 minutes.  Be sure to drain out as much fat as possible from the bottom of the stockpot.

Now add in the chopped vegetables, garlic and tomato paste. Cook over low heat and stir it occasionally.

Squeeze the whole tomatoes into the stock pot, making sure that all of the juices and seeds go into the pot.  Add the kale and simmer the sauce on low for about 10 minutes.

While the sauce is finishing, drain the noodles and pat dry to get any excess moisture out.  Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil, garlic, chili flakes and the zucchini noodles.  These are the same ingredients you’d use for Aglio e Olio noodles (garlic and oil).  With a quick stir fry, the noodles will stay al dente, and hopefully not soggy!

Top the noodles with the ragu and enjoy this healthy, delicious dish!

This dish is dairy-free, but if you have no objection, sprinkling a little parmesan cheese to finish it off is a wonderful addition!

Beef and Kale Ragu with Zucchini Noodles

Makes: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

5 medium zucchini

Kosher salt

1 tbsp fennel seed

1 pound ground beef, preferably grass-fed beef

1 onion, finely chopped

1 large carrot, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 tsp finely minced garlic

2 tbsp tomato paste

28 ounces San Marzano whole tomatoes

1 pound kale, stems and ribs removed, leaves chopped

Extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp red pepper chili flakes

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Flaky sea salt

Freshly cracked pepper

Trim one end of each zucchini and insert flat end into a spiralizer and turn to create noodles. Noodles will be extremely long, so I suggest to cut the noodles approximately to 7-inch lengths. Place noodles in a colander and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon salt. Gently mix to ensure salt is coated all over noodles, which will help draw out and remove excess moisture from the zucchini. Set aside and let noodles drain over a dish.

In a medium dry skillet over medium low heat, toast fennel seeds for a few minutes. Keep shaking the pan to prevent the seeds from burning. Remove from heat and set aside. (Optional: If you want even more flavor, crush seeds in a mortar and pestle to release the oils.)

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté beef and fennel seeds, breaking meat apart using a wooden spoon for 5 minutes. Meat with begin to brown and fat will render out, about 5 minutes. Skim excess fat and discard.  Add onion, carrots, celery, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and tomato paste. Season with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir occasionally over 20 minutes over low heat. Squeeze whole tomatoes by hand into pot and with juice and chopped kale. Simmer on low for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain zucchini noodles and pat dry with paper towels to remove as much water as possible. In the same medium skillet heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon minced garlic, chili flakes and noodles. Stir fry for 3 to 5 minutes until garlic is softened and noodles are al dente.

Spoon ragu over noodles and garnish with parsley, sprinkle of flaky sea salt, black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

Recipe from Judy Kim

Ingredients

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    Recipe Reviews

    Avarage Rating:
    • 5 / 5
    Total Reviews:( 1 )
    • Harry

      This Beef/Ragu/Zucchini dish looks amazing. It may look a little daunting to make for a guy, but I know that when I’m finished making it, it will taste phenomenal. The good part about this as you say Fran is, that I’ll feel guilt free swallowing down when I’m done. This carb free dish, will go a long way with my diet as well, especially over the holidays when sweets run rampant. Cheers

    • harry

      This Beef/Ragu/Zucchini dish looks amazing. It may look a little daunting to make for a guy, but I know that when I’m finished making it, it will taste phenomenal. The good part about this as you say Fran is, that I’ll feel guilt free swallowing down when I’m done. This carb free dish, will go a long way with my diet as well, especially over the holidays when sweets run rampant. Cheers

      • Francine

        Great points, Harry…it’s always a tough time to stay healthy, so every healthy recipe is important!!

        Happy Holidays!

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