Spaghetti Squash

If it’s wintertime, it must be another squash recipe.

This is another one to bake the squash ahead for.  It’s so much easier to do that.  Then you don’t have to manhandle a searing steamy squash and inevitably burn yourself.  So bake that thing ahead of time and pop it in the fridge.

Michael has never been hot on plain spaghetti squash, though I love it, but I think this started to change his mind a little.  The addition of cheese to just about anything is helpful.  We had this with a quick tomato sauce made by Michael with Muir Glen tomatoes and onion, garlic, oregano, hot pepper, and parsley, and white beans with olive oil, lemon juice, and parsley.

A smallish spaghetti squash will make about three servings; a big one four to six.

1 spaghetti squash
olive oil
1 1/2 c. grated Dry Jack cheese
1/2 c. minced parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Bake that squash whole in a baking pan or on a baking sheet for about an hour at 375 degrees, or until tender, turning once.  This might take up to an hour and a half.  Place in the fridge and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Cut the baked squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with your hands.  Trust me, it works better than a spoon on a spaghetti squash.  Set them aside.  Hold a squash half over a large oven-safe bowl and, using a fork, gently scrape the strands out of the squash and into the bowl.  Repeat with the other half. 

Drizzle the squash generously with olive oil (a few tablespoons), sprinkle with the cheese and parsley, and season with salt and pepper.  Using two forks, gently toss the added ingredients with the squash until combined.  Place in the oven and bake about 40 minutes, until browned around the edges and hot through.

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Squash & Tomato Soup

This is hardly a recipe, it’s so easy. I feel like I’m half cheating by putting this up.  I made this myself, though Michael baked the squash for me, which mostly consists of putting it in the oven. If you can remember to do that the day before and then just pop the squash in the fridge, you’ll have most of the recipe ready to go in minutes.

This will knock out your beta-carotene needs for the day for sure. Somehow the combination of squash and tomato is slightly more than plain squash or plain tomato soup alone.  You could throw a little cream or milk in this when it’s done if you have it.  A dollop of yogurt or sour cream would make a nice addition too.

We had this with quesadillas made with corn tortillas, and Grafton Village Classic Reserve Cheddar, arugula, and a little Frontera salsa tucked inside.  It was a nice simple dinner.

Here’s the cheese:

http://www.graftonvillagecheese.com/store/index.html?action=browse&CategoryNum=301239320933905

And here’s the salsa:

http://www.fronterakitchens.com/shopping/food/frontera/salsas/13020

And here’s my little soup recipe:

1 medium butternut squash

Olive oil for the pan

1 medium onion, chopped

2 T. minced fresh ginger

1 chipotle chili en adobo, minced

1 28 oz. can Muir Glen diced tomatoes

zest of one lemon (organic, please)

½ c. parsley, minced

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375.  Poke the squash a few times with a fork and place it on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until tender. Remove and allow to cool.  Cut the bottom of the cooled squash off and remove its seedy innards, then cut it in half lengthwise.

Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Sauté the onion in the oil until nearly tender, then add the ginger and chipotle chili and sauté briefly, just to remove the ginger’s raw smell.  Add the tomatoes and their juice, then scoop the flesh of the squash from its skin and add it to the pan. Add a small amount of water if necessary to make the mixture stirrable, but do not add enough to bring it to a soup-like consistency. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the onions have become tender. 

Puree the soup in batches in a blender or food processor and return it to the pan.  Add to it the lemon zest, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste (taste before adding salt – the tomatoes already contain a significant amount).  Serves 4.

Cilantro-Jalapeno Swirl

This came from Crescent Dragonwagon’s enormous Passionate Vegetarian.  Michael produced this to go with its friend Roasted Red Pepper Soup (with a Cilantro-Jalepeno Swirl.)  That was only okay.  This is worth holding on to, and it’s only a matter of buzzing it in the food processor.  I used the leftovers of this in red beans and polenta.  In both cases it was a fine addition.  It would also be good mixed with yogurt to make a simple raita.

(Michael actually made this with parsley instead of cilantro because there was no organic cilantro available at WFM this week.  Either way, it’s a fine condiment.)

1 c. loosely packed cilantro leaves
1/2 t. salt
3 fresh jalapeno chilies, stems, seeds, and ribs removed (leave some if you’re a hot fiend)
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 T. vegetable stock

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Buzz away.

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower with Sweet Peppers and Cumin

Michael made this for dinner last night.  He also made brown rice and chickpeas with fresh spinach.  This was quite good, and Michael said, “It couldn’t be easier – you cut it up, mix the dressing, dump it in a pan, place it in the oven and stir it every 15 minutes.”  This comes from a book I received as a Christmas gift – The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley.  It says 4 servings on the recipe, but we polished it all off by the end of dinner.  The roasting causes the cauliflower to lose a lot of its volume; I could hardly believe I was looking at a whole head of cauliflower when the dish was finished.

3 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 t. coarse sea salt
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. cumin seeds
1/2 t. hot red pepper flakes
1 cauliflower (about 2 lbs.), cored and separated into flowerets
1 large red bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced into 1-in squares
1 large yellow bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced into 1-in squares (there were no organic yellow peppers, so he used two red ones)
1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, ground cumin, coriander, cumin seeds, and red pepper flakes.  Whisk to combine.  Add the cauliflower and bell peppers and stir well.  Spread the vegetables in a baking dish (Michael used a Pyrex 13 x 9, which gave plenty of space for the cauliflower to roast without steaming) and roast for 45 minutes.  Stir every 15 minutes for even browning.  Transfer the vegetables to a serving dish, garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, and serve.