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This zucchini pasta sauce with meat is such a hearty, flavorful meat sauce that includes zucchini and corn for extra flavor and nutrition.
At our house, we have had a ton of zucchini in our garden this year, so we’re finding lots of ways to use them up in our dinners.
This recipe is a great way to use a bit of zucchini from your garden (or some gifted zucchini from a friend).
Meaty, thick, and saucy – a hearty, flavorful spaghetti sauce that even your kids will love, and you get to sneak in those extra vegetables that they need.
I love how the zucchini and corn add nice flavor and color while still being very meaty.
I believe you’ll love this sauce as much as we do!
Savory, saucy, and full of veggies, this is a great pasta sauce you can add to your favorite pasta or top baked potatoes or use as a sauce over nachos.
Although I created it as a pasta sauce, the possibilities truly are endless for the uses of this delicious sauce!
I’m a paprika fan, so I add lots of it to many of my recipes, including this zucchini spaghetti sauce. You can use either sweet paprika or smoked.
Smoked paprika is spicier, so keep that in mind, but I wouldn’t consider that this is a particularly spicy dish. If in doubt, try the sweet if your family doesn’t like spicy.
Sweet paprika isn’t very spicy at all, and I can use it freely for dishes that my husband loves (he’s not a fan of spicy at all).
What You’ll Need
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 Tablespoons garlic (about 4 large), minced
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons dry oregano (or 2 Tablespoons fresh, chopped)
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or use sweet if you wish for less spice)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 6-ounce can of tomato paste
- 2 cups beef broth or stock
- 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn (no need to thaw)
- 1-1/2 cups zucchini, chopped in small pieces
How to Make
First you will cook the ground beef in a heavy skillet until browned, about 5-10 minutes, chopping and stirring often. I love my cast iron skillet.
When the ground beef is browned, drain off the excess fat.
With the pan on low-medium heat, add garlic, oregano, onion powder, and paprika and cook until garlic softens (about 2 minutes).
Add black pepper, tomato paste, beef broth and stir to mix together. I like to use my silicone spatula for this, but you could also use a whisk to get the tomato paste smooth.
Once mixed together, add corn and zucchini and stir in. Cover and simmer on low-medium for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the zucchini pasta sauce is simmering, cook your pasta according to package directions.
I used linguini, as it’s one of my favorites. But you can use spaghetti, angel hair, macaroni, rotini – any pasta you like! This sauce is enough for one pound of pasta.
After 20-30 minutes of simmering, uncover sauce, turn off heat, and let sit 5 minutes before serving over pasta (or mixed in if you prefer).
Get your ground beef nice and browned for the best flavor. You don’t want to scorch or burn it, but you want it nicely browned.
This will also leave browned bits in the pan to stir into the sauce, adding even more flavor.
Don’t overcook your garlic. Here again, you don’t want the garlic scorched, but you want it to begin to brown.
It’s easy to overcook minced garlic, so keep an eye on it. Scorched food adds not-so-great flavor to any dish.
If using frozen corn, no need to thaw it. Corn cooks quickly and heats up quickly, so you don’t have to worry about it affecting your recipe.
I expect that you’ll use fresh zucchini in this zucchini pasta sauce, but if you have some dehydrated or frozen (like me), it’s perfectly okay to use that too.
If using dehydrated zucchini , be aware that more liquid may be needed during cook time. Also, you will need much less (I’m thinking one-third of the amount called for here – so about 1/2 cup zucchini should do if using dehydrated).
If using frozen zucchini, you should be able to add it straight to the pan without thawing. If you end up with a soupy sauce, you can simply let it simmer a bit longer uncovered so some of the liquid can evaporate off (thus, thickening the sauce).
Can this sauce be frozen?
Absolutely! This sauce freezes well. You can keep this frozen in a freezer container for up to 6 months.
When ready to eat the leftovers, simply thaw slightly under running cold water (in a closed container) and heat up slowly (covered) on low until fully thawed.
You can also keep any leftovers refrigerated up to 5 days. Reheat on low, keeping in mind that you may need to add a bit of liquid if it’s too thick.
Zucchini Pasta Sauce with Meat
- 1 pound ground beef , lean
- 2 Tbsp garlic (about 4 large cloves), minced
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp oregano dry (or 2 Tablespoons fresh, chopped)
- 2 tsp paprika smoked (or sweet if you want less spice)
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 6 ounces tomato paste (one small can)
- 2 cups beef broth or stock
- ½ cup corn , frozen or fresh (if using canned, drain well)
- 1-½ cups zucchini chopped small
- Cook the ground beef in a heavy skillet until browned, about 5-10 minutes, chopping and stirring often. (I love my cast iron skillet!)
- When the ground beef is browned, drain off the excess fat.
- With the pan on low-medium heat, add garlic, oregano, onion powder, and paprika and cook until garlic softens (about 2 minutes).
- Add black pepper, tomato paste, beef broth and stir to mix together. I like to use my silicone spatula for this, but you could also use a whisk to get the tomato paste smooth.
- Once mixed together, add corn and zucchini and stir in. Cover and simmer on low-medium for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While sauce is simmering, cook your pasta according to package directions. This sauce is enough for one pound of pasta.
- After 20-30 minutes of simmering, uncover sauce, turn off heat, and let sit 5 minutes before serving over pasta (or mixed in if you prefer).
- Enjoy with my yummy Cheese Toast and side salad for a complete, wholesome, satisfying meal!
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