Sauteed Spaghetti Squash

I will readily admit that Spaghetti Squash has never been a favorite. That’s probably an understatement – I couldn’t stand it. So, I wasn’t very excited to get two from our CSA – they hung out in my pantry for a few weeks as I pondered whether to try them or to give them away. Yes, yes, I know…shameful. In the end, I consulted with a few great cooks and decided to keep them and give them another try. I’m happy to report that this preparation changed my mind. This was a total hit with the family! I served it as a side dish alongside pork chops. You can change the herbs and the amounts for what you prefer but the sage was absolutely amazing.

Sautéed Spaghetti Squash

SAUTEED SPAGHETTI SQUASH
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2 sm-med. Spaghetti Squash
4 Tb. butter (you could sub olive oil if you are vegan)
1 large clove garlic, minced
2-3 Tb. Fresh Sage
1-2 Tb. Fresh Parsley
1-2 tsp. Fresh Oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste

Cut Spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. Place cut side down on a shallow baking sheet (like a bar pan or jelly roll pan). Add water to 1/2 inch. Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 45 minutes, uncover and bake for another 10-15 minutes (I actually turned mine over). Scrape out seeds. In a separate bowl, scrape out the squash.

In a skillet, melt butter. Add garlic and herbs. Cook for a few minutes until garlic is softened and the herbs are aromatic. Add the squash and sauté for 5 minutes until heated through and combined with butter and herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

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Sage Squash

Squash is such a fall speciality. It is featured in recipes and in decorations. It evokes feeling of fall, warmth, and comfort and there are SO many varieties. As Steph and I wandered through the farmer’s market, we admired many squash and finally settled on a buttercup squash. It was a new one for both of us. While I prefer delicata and perhaps butternut squast over the buttercup, I did really enjoy this recipe. You could successfully substitute your favorite squash in this recipe.

If you are looking for a new side dish or a different way of preparing squash, then you will surely enjoy this. It is simple but delicious and certainly fancy enough for your holiday feasting.

SAGE SQUASH
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1 Squash of your choice (about 3 -4 cups cubed)
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. butter, melted
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tb. butter
1/2 onion, diced
1 tsp. fresh sage
1/2 tsp. fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Peel and cube the squash. Toss with olive oil, 1 tsp. melted butter, salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper). Roast until tender about 15-20 minutes.

Melt 2 Tb. butter in a sauté pan. Add onion and cook until tender. Add sage and rosemary and a little more butter if needed and sauté until fragrant and onion is lightly browned. Add roasted squash and gently toss to coat with butter onion mixture. Garnish with more sage if desired.

 

Counter Culture

Just stepping in briefly to say hello and give you a glimpse into my kitchen in the past month. While I haven’t been able to participate in the November Magazine Review, I have been enjoying browsing through the food magazines and drooling at the amazing line-up of recipes. Midwest Living and Cooking Light were my favorites.

One Sunday this past month we enjoyed a pork roast with a dried fruit sauce that came from Southern Living. It was simple to make and not very time consuming. The results looked outstanding on the plate.

I have a cardboard box on the floor of the kitchen filled with my stash of fall squash: butternut, cheese pumpkin, acorn, and pie pumpkin. Some of the squash found their way to the mantel for my fall decoration. We’ll eat those in December and January. The recipe below was from Rachael Ray (October I think). Butter, brown sugar, and herbs formed a sweet/savory coating on these acorn squash wedges.

Mustard greens recently came in my CSA. They looked different from the ones in the grocery store. I was so surprised to find they were mild and delicious when sautéed with onion and olive oil.

The kids and I are working on US geography this year — studying one state a week. The highlight for me is finding food specific to each state. Rhode Island was our last state and we ate “pizza strips” with “coffee milk.” I can hardly believe they call cold, sauce-less pizza a delicacy. Ours was warm, and it was good.

Something I haven’t made in many years is Cornish Pasties. I used to make them regularly for picnics as they are delicious and filling. Needing a portable dinner for a trip I decided to pull them out of the file. I used whole wheat flour for the pastry and they tasted great!

CORNISH PASTIES
(The Picnic Gourmet)
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Filling:
1 lb. raw beef cut into ¼” cubes
3 raw potatoes, diced
5 green onions minced (or one small reg. onion)
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
dash pepper
seasonings of your choice: garlic powder, steak seasoning, etc.

Crust:
1 c. butter
4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
ice water

Mix together the filling ingredients.

Mix together flour, salt and baking powder. Cut in butter and mix with hands until small crumbs form. Add ice water to make a workable dough. Knead a few times. Divide into small balls. Roll balls into circles. Place a spoon or two of meat filling to one side of the circle. Dip your finger in water and “paint” the edge of the circle.  Fold dough over to form half circles. Seal edges. Brush with milk. Bake at 425 for one hour.

Serves 8. Easily halved.

Another recipe I recently tried recently was Butternut Squash with Pecans and Vanilla. It was nice, but next time I’ll throw the vanilla extract in at the end so we can taste it more.

The apples leftover from my orchard trip were slowly turning nasty. The answer to that problem was pies. Lots of them. Yum, yum, yum! Pie for breakfast three days in a row is such a treat! (I used part whole-wheat crust and only a dab of honey to sweeten them.)

I can’t believe I’ve had zinnias blooming up to the first week of November! They brighten our table and mix well with the pumpkins.

I hope you all are eagerly anticipating Thanksgiving and thinking ahead to what you’re going to cook!

Favorite Fall Recipes

In my opinion, fall is one of the best seasons for cooking and eating. Harvest provides the bounty to cook with and hungry appetites, whetted by the cold weather, are eager to devour the fruits of the kitchen. Here are our favorites:

Rustic Apple Tart: I love to make these tarts because they are easier than a pie, and you can get two of them from one recipe of pie crust. Apple pie is a perennial favorite and a must for the autumn.

Spicy Butternut Curry: this was a random selection from a squash cookbook that turned out to be a winner. I served it to company as well as just to our family.

Spiced Cider Punch: We enjoyed this at a friend’s wedding and then used it for parties here at home. It is easy, seasonal, and very delicious.

Roman Apple Cake: This was most likely the first apple recipe I ever made growing up and it has stuck around as my go-to for a comfort cake.

Treacle Scones: these scones are filled with the scents of autumn and perfect for tea time on a windy wet day.

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SAUSAGE LENTIL SOUP: We love this soup – It’s filling and absolutely delicious!

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BEET, GOAT CHEESE, & AVOCADO SALAD: This was such an unexpected and fabulous combination of flavors.

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PUMPKIN DESSERTS: Pretty much anything pumpkin tends to be my favorite! The pumpkin cake, pumpkin bars, and pumpkin cheesecake are all wonderful.

cranberry pie
CRANBERRY CHESS PIE: I stumbled on this recipe a few years ago and it’s become a family favorite.

PUMPKIN PANCAKES & MAPLE BACON: While I didn’t love how the photo turned out, we have continued to return to this pancake recipe.  Very fallish!

Off The Shelf: Pumpkin Cookbooks

I have come across several lovely cookbooks devoted entirely to pumpkins and squash. Their covers, table of contents, and photos make me feel all warm and cozy and in the mood for this fall comfort food. (Not to mention I like their size — they are all just about 7 or 8 inches square.)

IMG_7404It’s hard to choose a favorite, but perhaps it would be A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash by Lou Seibert Pappas. The book begins with helpful information on buying, storing, and cooking squash, as well as different types of squash. Then, it delves into Breads and Breakfast, Soups, Salads and Sides, Entrees, and Desserts.

Have a look at some of the recipe titles: Pumpkin-Orange Waffles, Butternut Squash-Pear Bisque, Roasted Butternut Squash Polenta, Lemon-Roasted Chicken with Garlic, Winter Squash, Apples and Onions, Cranberry-Pecan Pumpkin Drop Cookies, Five-Spice Pumpkin-Ginger Cake, and Pumpkin Flan.

I found the recipes in this book so tempting that I made two for today’s post: Cranberry-Walnut Pumpkin Coffeecake, and Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Meat Sauce (see below).

IMG_7405Next up is Pumpkin Butternut & Squash: 30 Sweet and Savory Recipes by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern. This book is also filled with mouth-watering photos and tempting titles: Roasted Pumpkin Salad, Italian Pumpkin Bean Soup, Pumpkin and Pepper Kabobs, Pumpkin Risotto, Pumpkin Gnocchi (this is EVERYWHERE this Fall and I am just dying to make some. It just hasn’t happened yet), Pumpkin Biscuits, and Pumpkin Raisin Bread.

I made the Spicy Butternut Curry for Sunday lunch recently and it was incredible. I wanted the leftovers to go on and on. The recipe is included below.

IMG_7407Finally, we have Cooking with Pumpkins and Squash by Brian Glover. This is the newest book of the three, just out this past February. The photography is outstanding and the recipes look like they are too!

The book begins with a description of many types of squash and then launches into 75 pages of scrumptious recipes such as: Squash & Sage Frittata, Roasted Squash Wedges with Pumpkin Seed Pesto, Spicy Pumpkin & Coconut Soup with Ginger & Lime, Roasted Squash with Leek & Barley Pilaf, Pumpkin Fondue, Sweet Squash, Pecan & Maple Syrup Tart, and Pumpkin & Ginger Jam.

 

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SPAGHETTI SQUASH WITH SPICY MEAT SAUCE
(A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash)

1 large spaghetti squash (about 3 pounds)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 Tbsp. butter
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
12 cherry tomatoes, red or yellow, halved
1/2 c. fresh Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese shavings
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Greek Meat Sauce:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds ground beef or turkey
1 cup water
1 1/2 cans (9 ounces total) tomato paste
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp. whole mixed pickling spice
1/2 stick cinnamon

To make the Greek Meat Sauce, in a large saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp. of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onion to a plate, leaving the oil in the pan. Brown the meat in the reserved oil over medium-high heat, stirring to break it up into even crumbles. Return the onion to the pan. Add the water, tomato paste, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper. Tie the pickling spice and cinnamon in a small piece of cheesecloth and add to the stew. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally and adding additional water if it threatens to scorch. Discard the cheesecloth.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds (a grapefruit spoon works so well for this). Place the squash, cut side down, on the prepared pan. Bake until the flesh can be easily scraped into strands with a fork (about 50-70 minutes). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Using a fork, scoop out all the flesh into a bowl and fluff the spaghetti-like strands. Toss in the salt and pepper. Place on a large, warmed platter or the cleaned squash shell.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until it turns light brown. Pour over the squash strands. Toss with the fork to blend. Top the squash with the hot meat sauce. Scatter the avocado and tomatoes over and sprinkle with the cheese and parsley. Serve immediately (spaghetti squash looses its heat very fast).

Notes: If you don’t have pickling spice and cinnamon sticks, you could switch to Italian seasoning by adding some dried basil and oregano. To save money, omit the avocado and chopped tomato, as well as the Parmesan cheese. I omitted the browned butter and just put a large pat of butter into the bowl of spaghetti squash.

Serves 4-6.

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CRANBERRY-WALNUT PUMPKIN COFFEECAKE
(A Harvest of Pumpkins and Squash)

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white or yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 large eggs
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 c. canola oil
1/3 c. sour cream
1 cup pumpkin or winter squash puree, canned or homemade
1 cup fresh or dried cranberries
3 Tbsp. Demerara or raw sugar

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9-inch square baking pan.

Spread the walnuts in a small baking pan and bake until lightly toasted, about 8-10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, sour cream, and pumpkin and beat with a large whisk or an electric beater until smooth. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix just until incorporated. Stir in the cranberries and 2/3 cup of the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Scatter the remaining 1/3 cup nuts on top and sprinkle with Demerara sugar.

Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan to room temperature, then cut into 9 squares. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or wrap tightly and freeze for up to 1 month.

Serves 9.

Notes: I omitted the nuts and went with only half the amount of sugar called for (this was for my children and I just didn’t want them having all that sugar!). I used fresh cranberries, which tasted wonderful. However, since my cranberries were frozen, the baking time took about 20 minutes longer than listed. Also, I didn’t want to sprinkle nuts and sugar on top so went with a simple dusting of rolled oats, just to keep it from looking too plain. It would also be worth trying this with whole-wheat flour.

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SPICY BUTTERNUT CURRY
(Pumpkin Butternut & Squash)

2 Tbsp. sunflower oil
1 Tbsp. mustard seeds
1 lb. butternut or pumpkin, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 onions, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
a pinch of ground tumeric
4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 cup heavy cream
1 large package of spinach, about 1 lb.
a pinch of ground cumin or garam masala
salt & pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the mustard seeds, stir-frying until they pop. Add the butternut squash and the onions and stir-fry gently until the onions are softened and translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, salt, and pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the tumeric and stir-fry for 1 minute more.

Add the chicken, stir-fry until sealed on all sides, then add the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer, covered for about 20 minutes, or until tender.

Add the cream, bring to a boil, and simmer, stirring until thickened — the cream will first boil with large bubbles, then small. Stop at this point or the cream will curdle. Add the spinach and cumin or garam masala, cover with a lid, and steam for 2 minutes until the leaves collapse, then stir in the rest of the ingredients. Serve with steamed rice or naan bread.

Serves 4-6+.

Notes: I keep my fresh ginger in the freezer and grate from frozen when needed. You could use frozen spinach, just thaw and drain before using.

Fall Seasonal Recipes

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This is the perfect punch to serve in the Fall or around Thanksgiving.

SPICED CIDER PUNCH

1 gallon fresh apple cider, divided
2 c. orange juice
2 liters sparkling water

At least 8 hours before serving, mull half the cider by placing it in a saucepan and adding mulling spices. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1-3 hours. Strain out the mulling spices and chill.

When ready to serve, combine mulled cider, plain cider, orange juice and sparkling water.

I made an ice ring using apple juice and fresh cranberries.

Serves 24.

ROMAN APPLE CAKE
(from More With Less)

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1 c. sugar
2 ¼ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
3/8 tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. soda
½ tsp. cloves
1 tsp. cinnamon
2/3 c. oil
2 eggs
2/3 c. milk
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
3 c. raw apples, peeled and chopped

 Crumb topping:
1 Tbsp. melted butter
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. flour
½ c. chopped nuts (optional)
¼ c. rolled oats

 Combine dry ingredients. Mix together oil, eggs, milk, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until combined. Add chopped apples. Pour into greased and floured bundt pan or 9×13 pan or muffin tins. Cover with crumb topping. Bake 35-40 minutes (or until done) at 350.

ROASTED SQUASH AND SAUSAGE PASTA
Heather

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1 butternut squash
1 lb. fresh sausage (sweet Italian or Polish)
1 red onion
1 box whole wheat pasta
1 tsp. thyme
salt & pepper
oil
1 cup grated cheese
Peel and dice squash. Cut sausages into pieces (about 1.5 inches long). Chop onion. Combine onion, squash and sausage on a baking tray. Coat with oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Roast at 375F until squash is tender (about 1 hour.).
Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to box directions. Keep warm. When squash is cooked, add to pasta and throw in a few handfuls of grated cheese.
Serves 4-6.
 
PEAR-ALMOND CAKE with CHOCOLATE CHUNKS
(from Everyday with Rachael Ray, September 2009)
Alaina
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1 c. flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. granulated sugar, divided
2 lg. eggs plus 1 egg white, divided
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 lg. pears, peeled, cored, & thinly sliced*
1/2 c. chocolate chunks (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1/2 c. blanched almonds, sliced (I used whole, raw and chopped them myself)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9-inch springform pan, line with parchment paper, grease the paper, then flour the pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together 3/4 c. granulated sugar and the 2 eggs until pale yellow, 1 t0 2 minutes, whisk in the butter. Stir into the flour mixture until just combine. Pour half of the batter into the prepare pan and top with half of the pear slices and half of the chocolate; repeat with the remaining batter, pears, and chocolate.

Using the food processor (or a blender), finely grind 1/4 almonds with the remaining 1/4 c. sugar. Add the egg white and process until smooth. Drizzle over the cake and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 c. almonds. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Let cool slightly, then dust with confectioners’ sugar.
Serves 8 – Enjoy! It’s delicious!

*Bananas were suggested as a substitute.