My daughter's been home from college for Christmas break and we've been trying to make some of her favorite meals. A couple of nights ago my wife took my youngest daughter skiing for the day so when I asked my oldest what she wanted, she said, "Gnocchi and pink sauce from Carlinos!"
Carlinos is a fantastic Italian market near where I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia. They are famous around here for their home made pastas and sauces.
I knew I was playing tennis in the afternoon and wouldn't have time for much cooking so I needed a quick and easy meal to throw together for the family and Carlinos was the perfect solution. I jumped in my car and headed over to find some culinary delights.
Quick & Easy Meals
Quick & Easy meals are those that you can prepare very quickly with minimum fuss. Sometimes they are made from scratch but often they are made with already prepared foods and served with other ingredients you make yourself.
In this case, the pasta and pink sauce were from Carlinos but the veggetti zoodles sauteed in garlic and a little olive oil were made by me and my daughter. What was missing, I was told later, was garlic bread, either made from scratch or store bought.
If you haven't seen or tried veggetti zoodles, I encourage you to go out and purchase a Spiral Vegetable Slicer. They come in all shapes and sizes and are made by different manufacturers but we have been happy with the Veggetti models.
We started with a simple handheld model but for Christmas Santa brought us a super duper hand crank version. Santa has been warned not to gift any more plug-ins for the kitchen, thus the hand crank. At first I thought my wife was not thrilled with Santa for bringing another kitchen gadget that needed someplace to store but after her first experience cranking out zoodled yellow summer squash, I think she cheered up.
As you can see in the video above, the Veggetti Spiral Vegetable Slicer turns vegetables like zucchini and summer squash into pasta like strands that you use instead of regular pasta. You can "vegetti" carrots, squashes and other vegetables too. It's a great way to cut down on refined carbs and get kids to eat more vegetables.
To prepare, all I did was heat up a large saute pan, add a little oil and then 1 teaspoon of garlic. As soon as the garlic started to brown, I added the zoodles, seasoned with salt & pepper and cooked for 3 to 4 minutes until tender and cooked through.
The only mistake I made besides not serving garlic bread was not making enough vegetable noodles. I thought two large summer squash would be enough but four would have been better. They lose some of their moisture when sauteing and cook down.
The Difference Between Zucchini and Yellow Squash
Did you know that zucchini comes in yellow (golden) and can look similar to yellow squash but they are not the same. I usually think of zucchini as green but there is golden zucchini, not to be confused with the summer squash shown in my video.
The biggest difference is in shape. Zucchini, green or yellow, are straight from one end to the other. Yellow squash on the other hand have a flat bottom and taper towards the neck. You probably have seen some yellow squash with curved or crooked neck.
They both have soft white flesh and are mild-tasting but yellow summer squash can have more seeds than zucchini. Best of all both can be used interchangeably when making vegetable noodles.
Gnocchi and Pink Sauce
I purchased two types of gnocchi at Carlinos, their basic potato gnocchi and their sun-dried tomato, garlic & basil gnocchi. If I were to do this again, I would stick with one or the other and it most likely would be the plain potato gnocchi so it doesn't interfere with the wonderful flavor of the sauce.
If you want to make homemade gnocchi, be sure to check out How to Make Gnocchi Matarozzi Style. This is a fabulous recipe from our friend Angie's grandmother who taught it to her son, Angie's dad. It describes what gnocchi are, gives a little history and offers an easy to follow recipe.
Pink Tomato Sauce
If you want to make some of your own pink sauce to serve on store bought or homemade gnocchi, please check out my post below for making a basic tomato sauce. All you have to do is add a little pink of cream to turn it into a pink tomato sauce.
How Do Some of My Favorite Chefs Prepare Their Basic Tomato Sauces?