I’ve talked about it before but I’m not a huge fan of food mimics. I mean, I don’t need to be sold on a vegetarian “burger” or tofu “meatballs”. If they are good, it doesn’t matter what they are supposed to replace. I even remember reading about a competition formatted around the creation of a vegetarian “foie gras”. But it is silly to try and replace such well known and enjoyed dishes. It creates false expectations and nine times out of ten, the connection is missed. But that doesn’t mean simple, popular dishes can’t be the inspiration for something new.
An all time favorite of mine, is a big plate of pasta with bolognese. Heavy on garlic, thick and rich, this italian staple is delicious but a bit filling. I know many will replace the beef with turkey or even chicken but you just don’t get the same depth in flavor. So that got me thinking. Could I make an alternative that captures the essence of spaghetti and meat sauce but still succeeds in being it’s own dish?
I found some delicious yellow and red roma tomatoes at the farmers market and used those, blanched and peeled as the base for my sauce. Rather than using ground chicken I decided to used diced organic chicken thighs (ultimately there is much more flavor in the thighs) to add substance. Additionally I added diced eggplant which added a bit of creaminess and a bit of that earthiness that you often associate with the bolognese. I also added a bit of kale to help create a unique flavor. With just a bit of red wine and a good bit of reducing, this sauce was complete. But I couldn’t just through it over store bought pasta, could I?
Rather. I made this zucchini spaghetti, sauteeing it with garlic and olive oil. The pair, zucchini noodles and chicken thigh and fresh tomato sauce, was awesome, with just enough to remind you of the classic favorite, but with enough character to stand up as a complete dish.