Spaghetti Squash

In a Hurry?
  • Baste squash halves with oil
  • Add pepper and salt
  • Roast in an oven
  • Scrape out the flesh and add spaghetti sauce

There I was, feeling a bit peckish, thinking about that honey melon in the fridge. I grabbed it, took my kitchen knife and started cutting, wondering about that big stem and how hard it was to cut it in half. Well, it turns out that I have no clue when it comes to fruit or vegetables. I was cutting into spaghetti squash, not into some honey melon. Of course, I didn’t want to let it go to waste and had to look up how to deal with it and found a plethora of recipes. Most of them tell you to treat the squash as spaghetti and add something you would add to spaghetti as well. Impatient, as I usually am, I picked up ideas for ingredients on the handful of websites that I had visited in the process. I had a plan for the sauce: Onions, garlic, tomatoes and the green onions I had left from that orange chicken experiment.

Preparing the squash is simple. Most of the websites suggested roasting it in the oven. That’s what I did. Cut the spaghetti squash in half, scrape out the seeds and soft bits with a spoon. Baste the cut side and the scraped out core with some olive oil and add salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place both halves on it, cut side down. Roast it for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees.Spaghetti Squash on aluminum foil

For my sauce, I diced a small onion, chopped some garlic into pieces, opened a can of diced tomatoes and sliced my green onions. I did have fresh tomatoes, but I somehow hate to cook them. They usually go into a salad or get sliced for a burger or a sandwich. 30 minutes into the roasting of the squash, I started to sautee the onions in oil, added the garlic and a bit later, I added the diced tomatoes. I waited for this to cook through and added the green onions at the end, not giving them any chance to get soft or even burn.

I took out the baking sheet and turned the squash around. There was steam coming out from underneath the squash, but I could avoid it. The fork went into the squash without resistance and I started scraping the flesh out and transferred it onto the plates. I added my sauce and topped it with some grated cheese. Good stuff. The squash had a slightly sweet and nutty flavor and was a bit crunchy, call it al-dente. It’s quite nice as a summer dish, certainly not as heavy as the typical winter squash.Spaghetti Squash and a tomato sauce

Spaghetti Squash
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 Onion
  • 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bundle of green onions
Instructions
  1. Cut the squash in half and remove seeds with a spoon
  2. Baste the cut and core with oil and add pepper and salt
  3. Place face down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil
  4. Roast for 40 minutes at 400F
  5. Dice the onion and chop the garlic
  6. Sautee onion and garlic 2-3 minutes
  7. Add diced tomatoes and let it cook for 5 minutes
  8. Add sliced green onions and warm it up 2 minutes max
  9. Take the sauce off the heat
  10. Test the squash with a fork
  11. If there is no resistance, scrape out the flesh with a fork and transfer it onto plates
  12. Add the sauce
  13. Top it with grated cheese

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Broccoli Stuff

A recipe that came out of my broke early 20’s. I was living with roommates who were also usually broke, and we all lived paycheck to paycheck. I was usually the one to cook, and tried to make meals of cheap ingredients taste delicious. The most requested meal that came out of that time was a combination of broccoli, pasta, and parmesan cheese that eventually became known simply as Broccoli Stuff.

Broccoli Stuff
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2-3 heads of broccoli
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 pound bite-sized pasta
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ to ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese (powdered won't taste as good here)
Instructions
  1. Get a few heads of Broccoli, and break them into bite sized pieces.
  2. Fill a large pan ¾ full of water, and bring to a boil. Add a few splashes of salt, then toss in the broccoli florets. Cook for just a few minutes, long enough for the florets to green up, and the water to turn a light chartreuse.
  3. Scoop out the florets, and add the pasta - I like penne, but anything bite-sized will work. Cook the pasta until it's al dente.
  4. In a large skillet, drizzle in the olive oil, and some minced garlic - I usually go for about 3-4 cloves - and let it start to get golden, then add in the cooked broccoli florets.
  5. Grind some pepper over the broccoli, and then add in the cooked pasta.
  6. Next, add a few pats of butter to the sides of the mixture, letting it melt down into it... mmm, butter...
  7. Toss the mixture around to get everything well-mixed.
  8. Turn off the heat, and sprinkle a good ¼ to ½ cup of parmesan over the pan, let it melt a bit, then stir it in.

Previously published in part here: http://cookingwithevil.blogspot.com/2010/03/broccoli-stuff.html

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Pasta Pomodoro

In a Hurry?
  • Cook pasta
  • Dice tomatoes, mozarella, onions
  • Cut basil
  • Mix, add olive oil, balsamico, pepper, salt
  • Pour over pasta

Many years back, I spent a month in summer in Sicily, invited by an Italian family. Among the greatest things I remember where the meals on the big table on the front porch. Of course, there were plenty of dishes I had never seen and the potential to learn a lot. But who knew that I needed those 30 years later or that I would even talk about them. One of the surprising dishes was pasta with fresh tomatoes. The tomatoes, balsamico and the basil gave the dish a light and refreshing flavor. A great meal for a summer day.

There are many variations of pasta pomodoro on the internet. Some of them are asking to heat up the tomatoes together with the onions, but using the fresh tomatoes is exactly what makes this dish a great dish to eat on a summer night on your porch. If you are feeling adventurous, don’t even saute the onions and the garlic, just add them raw. That makes it taste sharper, which might take the romance out of the meal, but it’s certainly tasty as well.

Recipe: Pasta Pomodoro
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound of pasta, spaghetti, penne, farfalle, your pick
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 medium sized onion, diced
  • 2 gloves of garlic
  • 1 cup of fresh basil, cut into strips
  • 5-8 oz mozarella (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons balsamico
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
Instructions
  1. Boil the pasta
  2. Dice the onion
  3. Peel the garlic
  4. Saute the onions lightly and add the garlic using a garlic press
  5. Dice the tomatoes
  6. Cut the basil leaves into strips
  7. Pull the mozarella into chunks
  8. Put tomatoes, onions, basil and mozarella together in a mixing bowl
  9. Add the balsamico, olive oil
  10. Salt and pepper to taste
  11. Mix well
  12. Drain the pasta and let it sit for a moment.
  13. Serve the pasta in a bowl and top it with the pomodoro mix
Notes
If you don't have mozarella at hand, leave it out of the base mix and just add grated parmesan when the dish is served.

 

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Spaetzle and Leek Casserole

I found this recipe by accident while looking for a Cheese Spaetzle recipe. By that time I had already some experience with casseroles and there wasn’t anything scary about baking something in the oven. We are also perfectly fine with vegetarian dishes and this one seemed perfect. What I didn’t know, was what an intense flavor leek adds to a meal. It is not as sharp as raw onions, but it gives the dish a distinctive flavor.

Note to self: Article/Rant about ethnic food pricing. $5 for one pound of noodles if your standard super market even carries it. Don’t despair. I’ve found Aldi is selling it for $2.29 or so.

Recipe: Spaetzle and Leek Casserole
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound spaetzle noodles
  • 1 large zucchini
  • 2 stalks of leek
  • 5 oz of spinach
  • 12 oz shredded swiss cheese
  • 1 table spoon butter
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F
  2. Butter a casserole dish (at least 2" deep and needs a lid)
  3. Slice the zucchini and leeks in ¼" slices
  4. Boil the spaetzle in salt water, typically for 12-13 minutes.
  5. Drain the spaetzle and layer ⅓ of them on the bottom of the casserole dish.
  6. Next layer is half your spinach, half the zucchini.
  7. Push the half the leek slices apart into rings and add them on top.
  8. Salt and pepper this layer.
  9. Add ⅓rd of your cheese.
  10. Repeat this with another layer of spaetzle, spinach, zucchini, leeks and again cheese.
  11. You may have to push it down a bit, since your casserole dish is most likely full by now.
  12. Add the remaining spaetzle and top them with the remaining cheese.
  13. Bake it in the oven for 20 minutes, with lid on top
  14. Bake it for 5-10 more minutes without a lid
  15. Serve

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