zucchini marinara close

I’ve like to think of recipes as templates, not prescriptions. My favorite recipes are the ones that require minimal time, minimal ingredients, and can be adapted in a maximum number of ways. For me, versatility matters more than shock and awe.

Remember my zucchini alfredo? Well, zucchini pasta is every bit as quick and versatile as regular pasta. Here’s a variation that I guarantee you’ll all love: zucchini pasta with sweet pepper marinara. I was shocked at the authenticity of this dish: it tastes like the best marinara sauce you’ve ever had, only without the hours bubbling on the stove! I got the basic recipe from Wendi’s lovely site, Pure Jeevan, and I made a few modifications. Here’s it is:

Zucchini Pasta with Sweet Pepper Marinara (adapted from Pure Jeevan)

(Serves two)

1 very large red or yellow bell pepper, deseeded
¾ cup cherry or roma tomatoes
¼ cup sundried tomatoes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Generous sprinkle dried thyme
Generous sprinkle dried oregano
¼ cup basil
2 pitted dates

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender till thick and smooth. Serve over spiralized or thinly sliced zucchini, and enjoy!

Another great thing about this sauce? It’s neutral, so it can combine with any food. You can serve the pasta with raw nut-meatballs (like these), chunks of avocado (which is how I prepared my bowl), or any other mix-ins. Here’s a close up of the thick sauce:

zucchini marinara close

And a bird’s eye view of dinner:

dinner-shot zucchini marinara

I hope I’ve managed to inspire you all to try out vegetable pasta. Use zucchini, carrots, or beets as your base, and any sauce you love. And let me know what you create!

In other news, my very dear friend Nelly sent me a link to this article today. I don’t always love Tara Parker-Pope’s column, but I did love this piece, which discusses the tremendous significance of friendships in maintaining good health. (I also thought it was apropos, given my quitiversary post, that this research ranks friendship on par with smoking as a determiner of heart attacks.)

I’m blessed to have many deep and enduring friendships in my life. Some, like Nelly, are women I’ve known since Kindergarten, who have watched me grow up; some are professional acquaintances who have become dear friends; some are people I’ve met through my interest in health. They all enrich my life more than I can say. This article serves as a very good reminder that health isn’t simply a reflection of what we do and don’t put in our bodies. Social bonds, psychological states, and emotional stability have a direct impact on our bodily well-being. So it isn’t a platitude to say that health is spiritual, as well as physical.

The food and health blogging community is all about nutrition, of course–and that’s great. But let’s all remember to celebrate the components of “health” that go beyond the purview of our kitchens and workout regimens. Next time you feel tempted to skip a lunchtime workout in order to catch up with a good friend, or tempted to celebrate a social occasion with an uncharacteristically rich meal, don’t berate yourself: your instincts may be every bit as “healthy” as your typically conscientious habits. Friends make us healthier in mind, heart, and body.

Have a great night, everyone! xo

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