Prepared as a pasta substiute, vegetable “zoodles” never really satisfy. Sure, they look like colorful spaghetti, but they’re never going to hit those same texture, flavor and comfort notes as a properly prepared bowl of pasta. That doesn’t mean you should give zoodles the brush-off, especially when you’re trying to pull together a meal in minutes.
Zoodles made from heartier vegetables, like butternut squash, hold up remarkably well when roasted, and their diminutive size means they’ll cook faster than other winter squash preparations. And, given their current popularity, it’s easy to find them pre-zoodled, if you will, in the produce section of just about any Kroger, Publix or Whole Foods Market.
I like to use them as a base for a sheet-pan dinner with spicy Italian sausage. The slightly sweet heat from the sausages pairs well with the squash, and you can easily complement those flavors with an aromatic leek, sliced into thin strips and allowed to char a bit in the high heat of the oven, along with a squeeze of lemon juice, and plenty of good olive oil.
You’ll need to cook this dish in two stages, first in a 450-degree oven to get the sausage almost cooked, then under the broiler to add some color. Keep an eye on the leeks during this final stage; if you feel that they’re getting too dark, transfer the sausages to a second baking sheet and continue to broil the sausage on their own until you’re happy with the browning.
Finish the dish with a second generous squeeze of lemon juice and a big handful of chopped fresh parsley for bright, herbaceous balance.
This recipe works best when made for two servings. Adding additional vegetables to the pan causes them to steam instead of brown. However, if you’d prefer to serve four, add two more sausages and serve the dish with an additional side dish, such as a mixed green salad or steamed broccoli.
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