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With Italian food being my go-to comfort food, Chef Billy (Cooking Light Executive Chef, Billy Strynkowski) suggested I trade in the pasta for a mandoline slicer.  I was skeptical until he informed me that a mandoline carves up fresh zucchini into strands so I can trick my brain into thinking I’m eating spaghetti.  Still not entirely sold, Chef Billy gave me a mandoline to take home for a test drive, and boy am I happy he was so forceful!  It took me 20 minutes to prepare and cook the meal.   

Ingredients for a family of 3 or 4

1 clove garlic

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 sliced fennel bulb or carrots, if you like it sweet

2 medium zucchini

1 package sliced mushrooms

2 tomatoes (seeds removed and diced)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

 fistful of fresh basil, cut into pieces

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat; add the fennel or carrots until soft (about 3 to 5 minutes). While fennel cooks, slice up the zucchini (skin on) into strands using the mandoline. Slice zucchini down until you get to the seeds. (Chef Billy says to avoid seeds because it makes the dish too watery.)

Add zucchini and mushrooms to the sauté pan.  While cooking, seed and dice the tomatoes; add to the pan.  Tomatoes should soften up quickly.  Finish with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and balsamic vinegar; let simmer for a couple minutes. 

When the veggies are soft (not mushy) remove from heat, toss in fresh basil, salt, and pepper to taste and serve. 

This step-by-step approach took me 20 minutes to make.