Photo: Brian Woodcock; Styling: Claire Spollen
Hands-on Time
34 Mins
Total Time
34 Mins
Serves 4 (serving size: about 3/4 cup pasta, 1 cup sauce, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese)

If you're trying to go from a refined-carb spaghetti dinner to a balanced-carb version, try whole-grain pasta instead of whole-wheat pasta. It's an easier sell to your family, tasting milder than the latter.

How to Make It

Step 1

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta, and keep warm.

Step 2

While pasta cooks, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, beef, and garlic; cook 4 minutes, stirring to crumble beef. Add zucchini and mushrooms; cook 10 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Place tomatoes in a mini food processor; pulse 4 times or until almost smooth. Add tomato paste, oregano, and red pepper to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes; reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in salt and black pepper. Serve sauce over pasta; top with cheese.

Ratings & Reviews

LauraD318's Review

March 07, 2015
This is a great weekday dinner. Fast, healthy and really tasty. I made one modification by adding a squirt of anchovy paste to the sauce in the last few minutes. The sauce just needed a little more complexity and depth. I know that might sound weird but I read that trick for tomatoe sauce a long time ago and it really adds great flavor without any fishiness. Leftovers were great for lunch the next day and I will make this again for sure.

Very good, with modifications

June 26, 2018
I gave it 4 stars because it was good, but I modified it.  I did the whole (small) can of tomato paste, because the tablespoon did not seem to do much.  To make this recipe easier I used garlic and onion powder to season (I used turkey), grated the zucchini with a cheese grater instead of chopping and skipped the food processor step for the diced tomatoes.  The whole family enjoyed, but my son complained about the tomato chunks, so I guess I will use the processor next time to make more "kid friendly".

Diana19's Review

January 27, 2015
I used chicken instead of beef, fresh diced roma tomatoes instead of canned. I used three cloves of garlic instead of six. It is a new family favorite!,,

jwmassey's Review

January 27, 2015
This was a great recipe. I doubled it so I would have leftovers. The only thing I did different was I did not process the diced tomatoes. I bought Petite diced tomatoes and it turned out fine. I probably used more tomato paste than the recipe calls for, too. What was I going to do with the rest in the little can??

Somewhat underwhelming

March 21, 2015
The sauce wasn't as flavorful as I had hoped, and I wasn't a fan of the chunky texture. It also took forever to finely chop all those veggies, so if I make this again I might just slice them normally and then puree the sauce at the end for a smoother consistency. I'd also double the garlic, spices, etc. - intrigued by the previous reviewer's addition of anchovy paste - might try that, too!

I Love All the Veggies

March 23, 2015
Yes, this recipe does require a lot of chopping, hence it won't be something I make often.  And, yes, the sauce isn't saucy.  It's chunky, which my husband didn't like.  The idea's a good one, but next time I think I'd add more diced tomatoes or something.  If you're wondering what to do with the extra tomato paste, freeze it in 1 or 2 TBSP portions using Tupperware Minis.

Thick and satisfying

April 19, 2015
This was really good.  The mushrooms gave it a meaty feel, and like another reviewer, I added a little depth and smoothness with a tsp. of anchovy paste.  Speed up prep by putting chunks of onion, mushroom, garlic, and zucchini all in the food processor at once to finely chop.  Then use the machine to puree finethe tomato.  Saves time, dishes, and gets those vegetables really fine.  Added 1/3 cup red wine to the sauce.

Good Weeknight Meal

August 19, 2015
I did add an extra can diced tomatoes (unprocessed; left them diced).  Also, took the advise of a couple of other reviewers and added anchovy paste.  Good flavor.

3 1/2 stars

October 09, 2016
Using our food processor really helped with the chopping all the way through - the onion and garlic, the mushrooms and zucchini, and finally the tomatoes.  We really prefer more "sauce" and this came out very thick and "meaty" so next time I'd add more tomato sauce.  I enjoyed the recommendations of the anchovy paste and red wine - really added some nice depth of flavors.  Hubby didn't care for the whole wheat pasta, so next time I'll probably just use regular pasta - egg noodles would work well too.