Begin browning your meat in a large saucepan while you dice your onion and carrot. Add to the meat and simmer slowly. Once it’s almost all brown, add your garlic and spices and let cook for about 15 minutes on low heat, stirring often. Chop your mushrooms up to bite sized pieces and add to the pan. Cook with the lid on for about 5 minutes then take the lid off and simmer for about 10 minutes or so. This cooks off a lot of the juices that are released from the mushroom. We’re not using oven ready noodles here folks so we want to eliminate as much water from the sauce as we can.
Open your crushed tomatoes and drain as much of the water as possible. Add it to the meat and simmer for a while, then add the sauce. It’s best to let this stuff simmer on low for a long while, occasionally taking the lid off the pan to release water.
You’re going to use zucchini for the ‘noodles’. If are able to, cut your zucchini noodles just as you begin browning the meat. If they are allowed to dry for a few hours, they release less water into the final dish. I cut mine about 1/8 inch thick. Too thin and they don’t hold the dish together, too thick and it doesn’t jive. Find your zucchini sweet spot and go with it.
Once the meat sauce is ready, ladle out about 1 cup or so into the bottom of your baking dish. Place a layer of zucchini on top of that, then take half of what’s left of the meat sauce and spoon over the ‘noodles’. Here is where you can add a light sprinkling of pastured cheese, as well as a few fresh basil leaves ripped into pieces. Add another layer of zucchini and the rest of the meat sauce.
Top with a layer of finely sliced whole tomato and a generous amount of ripped basil leaves. Sprinkle your pastured cheese on top. Bake in the oven at 375 for about an hour (gotta cook those zucchini’s). If your meat sauce is piping hot when you layer, it may take only 45 minutes. Either way, turn the oven to broil for the last 10-15 min of cooking and then let it set on the counter for about 20 minutes before serving.