Zucchini slices with marinara sauce

Zucchini Marinara

Zucchini Fettuccine - Zucchini Marinara


Marinara sauce is a classic.


Whether it’s as a basic pizza sauce with cheese or as a simple pasta sauce, marinara sauce is the results of combing simple, yet complementary flavours. Tomatoes, onion, garlic, and oregano combine to create a flavor for the senses.


Zucchini marinara is a simple way to bring more tomato flavour and nutrition into your life.

Zucchini noodles

Zucchini noodles became really popular in the mid-2oo0s when the now-dead diet fad of raw veganism hit the scene. Because food can’t be cooked on a raw vegan diet, zucchini noodles were easy to prepare by sweating them with salt as a way to get past the need to cook pasta.


For those who used a raw vegan diet to lose weight, which is what most people used it for, zucchini noodles were an easy way to cut calories by cutting carbs.

Zucchini nutrition

Despite being essentially tasteless, zucchini has a decent amount of nutrition, provided you eat enough of it. One large (232 g) zucchini has:

  • 54 calories
  • 10 g carbohydrate
    • 8 sugar
  • 3 fiber
  • 4 g protein
  • 843 mg potassium
  • 55 mg vitamin C
  • 94 mcg folate
  • 123 mg phosphorus
  • 50 mg calcium


There’s a reason people love tomatoes. They’re naturally sweet and good for you.


When cooked into a sauce, the sugars in tomatoes get concentrated so one cup of tomato sauce has 35 g of carbohydrate and 25 g of sugar. For anyone following a lower carb diet to manage insulin resistance or diabetes, or just because they want to, this needs to be considered.


When it comes to lycopene, a little goes a long way.  So if you plan to keep your intake of sugars on the lower end, a small serving of this marinara sauce with zucchini noodles as a side dish still provides a beneficial 18 to 27 mg of lycopene per 1/2 to 1/3 cup.


On top of that, one cup of this marinara sauce will provide 840 mg of high blood pressure smashing potassium to boot!

Zucchini Marinara

Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 2



  • 3 medium zucchini

Marinara sauce

  • 1 29 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive or avocado oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • salt to taste



  1. Wash and dry zucchini

  2. Slice the ends off of the zucchini. Carefully cut the zucchini lengthwise into thin strips. Alternatively, you could use a spiralizer and make traditional-looking noodles.

  3. If you want to have raw zucchini noodles, place them in a bowl and heavily salt them, allowing them to 'sweat' and soften. After about 10 to 15 minutes, rinse well under tap water to rinse the salt and transfer to a serving bowl.

  4. If you want cooked noodles, toss the zucchini strips/noodles into boiling water and blanch them; for about 1 minute. Immediately drain and transfer them to very cold or ice water to stop the cooking process. Rinse and transfer to a serving bowl.

Marinara sauce

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the tomatoes (with their juices), halved onion, garlic cloves, olive oil, oregano and red pepper flakes (if using).

  2. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, and use a sturdy wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes against the side of the pot after about 15 minutes has passed.

  3. Remove the pot from the heat and discard the onion. Smash any tiny onion pieces you might find.

  4. Use the wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes to your liking (you can blend this sauce smooth with an immersion blender or stand blender if desired).

  5. Add salt, to taste (unless you're buying no-salt-added tomatoes, they're already pretty salty, so you might just need a pinch).

  6. Serve warm over the zucchini noodbles. This sauce keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 4 days. Freeze it for up to 6 months.

Doug Cook RDN is a Toronto based integrative and functional nutritionist and dietitian with a focus on digestive, gut, and mental health.  Follow me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.