Posts tagged ‘Squash’

Italian Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Spaghetti squash is a great option for people who want pasta without gluten or lots of carbohydrates. It readily absorbs flavors from sauce, herbs, and spices, so it blends very well with other ingredients. It is also easy to prepare; please see my Spaghetti Squash post for roasting directions. Spaghetti squash provides a lovely splash of color to any noodle dish, unlike bland beige wheat noodles.

Italian Sausage Spaghetti Squash Casserole 1A

This recipe is one of my favorite ways to prepare spaghetti squash. It is so colorful and flavorful, and it is easy to create various color and flavor combinations with different veggies. Additionally, you can use any protein you prefer, like veggie sausage, ground meat, cubed chicken, soy or hemp tofu, pine nuts, etc. You can also always dress your spaghetti squash with pasta sauces, too.

Keep in mind you are going to need a very large bowl to mix all of the components. It has been a while since, I used this recipe, so I quickly ran out of room as I added ingredients. I spit the recipe into two stages, mixing the squash, sausage, dried herbs, and cheese in one large Corning Ware dish and the fresh herbs and remaining vegetables in another. I used a third smaller bowl to help transfer half of the contents one bowl into the other, so I could incorporate all the ingredients together into each bowl and keep the right proportions. As a side note, even though I added the Daiya cheese to the sausage and squash while they were hot, it did not melt properly. Daiya’s shreds require higher temperatures to melt than dairy cheese, so I suggest reheating the casserole before it is served.

Italian Sausage Spaghetti Squash Casserole 2A

Italian Sausage & Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Yields 14 to 16 servings

Ingredients
1 Med Spaghetti Squash, roasted, skin removed
1 T Dried Ground Sage
1 T Dried Oregano
2-3 T Fresh Thyme
1 Bunch or 3 C Spinach or Kale, torn into bite-size pieces
1 Bunch or 1/2 C Fresh Sweet Basil, chopped
Olive or Grape Seed Oil for cooking
3/4 – 1 lbs Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage
3/4 – 1 lbs Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage
1 10-oz pkg Daiya Mozzarella-Style Shreds
1 Medium Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
3 T Fresh or Bottled Minced Garlic
1 lb String Beans, cut into 1″ lengths
3 Med Yellow or Orange Heirloom Tomatoes, chopped
4 oz Pea Spouts with long shoots, separated
Ground Peppercorns, to taste
Sea Salt, to taste

Directions
Be careful not to burn your fingers while handling the squash. In a large bowl, break up the squash into noodles with a fork. Mix the herbs and greens into the squash. Set aside to allow the dried herbs to absorb moisture from the noodles and the greens to wilt a bit.

Oil a large pan. If the sausage came in casings, remove them. Brown the sausage over medium heat. Mix the sausage and cheese-style shreds into the squash.

Saute the onion, garlic, and beans together in a large oiled pan. Add to the squash with the salt, pepper,  tomatoes, and sprouts. Serve and enjoy!

National Heirloom Exposition, Day 1

Oh food blog, how I have missed you so! I can’t believe it’s been about a year since my last post. Much has happened in that time. My husband, friends, family and I have worked very hard to make our house more homey. There are always more and more projects to work on. Currently, we are in the midst of tackling the backyard, installing drainage, watering and electrical lines, planter boxes and a retaining wall, which all includes moving a lot of dirt around. What a workout! I am so grateful that we have so many generous people to help out. Next year, we plan on install a patio deck, but until then I hope to get some more plants in the ground. I’ve been itching to start some semblance of a garden, but we need to fill in more dirt first. I’m also trying to figure out which type of fruit tree to plant along the back fence and found some recent inspiration after visiting nurseries with some of my girl friends last weekend. So many plans are in the works. I can’t wait!

In the meantime, I am volunteering for a second year in a row at the National Heirloom Exposition, which is organized by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, a great Missourian company that features only non-GMO seeds in numerous varieties of flowers, fruits and vegetables but also gardening workshops. I cannot recommend this expo enough. Oh my goodness, I am having so much fun! It absolutely amazes me that such a national event is held here in Sonoma County, let alone that it was featured on Martha Stewart’s television show.

From the looks of it, 2011 was the first of many more years to come for the expo, especially as people travel from all over to attend, even from other countries. Like last year, I made a point to not only attend but also volunteer, and this year I’m scheduled to work two of the three days (about 12 hours), which means I get free admission, parking and hot lunches on both days and leftover produce at the close of the fair. How cool is that?! I saw and learned so much last year but only experienced a small portion of all of the events. The expo provides great opportunities to meet up with like-minded people and see folks from some of my favorite local farms and gourmet restaurants. This year I hope to try out some new foods.

It is absolutely amazing to see the astounding abundance of varieties of awesome organically grown heirloom fruits, vegetables and flowers. There were cultivars from all over the world that were brought in from all across the country, let alone from all over California, that I didn’t even know existed. Who knew there are red eggplants, prickly cucumbers and olive-shaped squash? Well, I do now. There are many many kinds of watermelon, for instance, with skins in various shades of green, golden, yellow and white that were solid colored, striped, splotched or spotted but had inner flesh in solid colors of pink, red, white, yellow, orange or bi-color combinations. Even the seeds varied in color and pattern. here must have been hundreds of watermelons alone, no to mention eggplants, tomatoes, garlic, peppers, pumpkins, gourds, squash, cucumbers, poultry and other exciting heirlooms. I know there are even more heirloom fruits and vegetables available, which makes me wish that there was an expo for every harvest season, since we only get to see produce that’s available at this time of year. I’d love to see different types of berries and stone fruits, but their peak seasons are over during this time of year. It would also be fantastic to see more species of heirloom flowers, too.

There is so much going on, it’s impossible to see everything. The California Rare Fruit Growers also sponsor an exhibit with tastings in the main hall (I keep forgetting to preregister), which is interesting, since some of the inner flesh colors and patters are so different from normal store-bought fruit. There are tons of free samples to try from several other farmers and vendors all over the expo, too, but there’s also a little farmers market for people to actually buy heirloom produce and seeds to take home. Some farmers also enter their finest produce in competitions based on appearance, flavor, size and weight. The pumpkin size contest is incredible with some of the entries weighing in at over 1000 pounds. They’re humongous! Not only are there displays of tables after tables of vegetables and fruits but a whole section of the fairgrounds is dedicated to heirloom animals. I hope they have more mammals this year, like rabbits. Wednesday is kids’ day with elementary classes coming from all over Sonoma County to learn sustainable gardening and farming; in addition, many of the schools are represented in a special exhibit by their gardening projects, displaying photos, schematics and diagrams.

During all three days, there are several educational agriculture lectures given by speakers from near and far. There are topics concerning sustainable agriculture, growing certain species of fruit, interactions of edible plants and weeds, hydration systems, soil, etc.  In addition, I think there are two screens showing back-to-back food-related documentary films all day, likewise on a variety of subjects. I hope I can fit some interesting lectures and movies into my schedule this year, as last year I wanted to hear the blueberry and agroecology lectures but was working at those times. There is also a small art exhibit in the main hall with agriculture-themed paintings, sculptures, embroidery, pressed flowers, and the like. The expo is like visiting a gourmet food fest, health food fair, sustainable gardening and farming fair, art and garden show, county fair, workshop series, movie marathon, agricultural fair, interactive science museum, farmers market and concert series all in one!

The fair always seems better than I anticipate, and it gets larger and gains greater attendance by visitors and vendors each year. I imagine it would probably attract an even more people if it wasn’t held in the middle of the week.  Last year, I went a little photo crazy; I must have taken pictures of most everything, which made me feel a bit like a tourist. I know this year I’m going to take pictures, too, but hopefully even better ones. I also hope I’m not doubling up on subjects that I took pictures of already. There’s so much to see. There are a bunch of pictures in the gallery below from last year, but these aren’t even a third of the collection so far. I do hope to post more after my second day. I’m having such a great time, I know I want to volunteer again next year.

Marinated Spaghetti Squash and Vegetable Noodles

I had four spaghetti squash I received for volunteering at the National Heirloom Exposition that, as well as and two bunches of enoki mushrooms I bought from Sam Kim of Bohemian Well-Being Farm. They were just waiting for me in my kitchen, but I was having trouble figuring out what dishes to make with them. In the end, I decided to a mild Asian fusion vegan noodle dish that was versatile and could be served as a side or as an entree with a wide variety of mix-ins blended in to compliment the flavors, especially since I knew I would be eating the spaghetti  squash alone. My husband had no interest at all in eating it with me, as he is not a fan of eating squash in any form, except in pumpkin pie.

Marinated Spaghetti Squash & Vegetable Noodles
Adapted from Kelp Noodles with Marinated Carrots & Daikon Radish

Ingredients
3 Medium Carrots, trimmed
3 Stalks Celery, trimmed
1 Daikon Radish, trimmed
1 Medium to Large Spaghetti Squash, flesh of, cooked
5 Scallions, trimmed, sliced perpendicular or parallel
1 Bunch Enoki, trimmed, separated
2 Sweet Yellow Onion, skinned, trimmed, grated
2 T Garlic, peeled, trimmed, minced or finely grated
1 Inch Fresh Ginger, finely minced or finely grated
1 – 2 Lemons, zest and juice of
1/4 – 1/2 C Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, optional
1/4 C Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

Directions
Grate the carrots, celery and radish with a vegetable peeler into thin noodle-like strips. Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients thoroughly from bottom to top so the shredded vegetables become fully distributed and do not clump together. Marinate for at least 30 minutes or overnight, mixing half way through. Give the ingredients one final stir. Serve with your protein of choice.

Spaghetti Squash

A bit ago, I volunteered for two days at the second annual National Heirloom Exposition in Santa Rosa (of all places). I had a blast and saw so many fantastically amazing animals, fruits and vegetables. One of the great things about the event, was the decorations, which consisted of mostly hard skinned melons, gourds and squash. Since I worked until closing I got to take a bunch home, including three spaghetti squash! Who doesn’t love free organic heirloom produce? For that matter, who doesn’t like free food? I was in absolute awe of the huge piles and towers of melons and squash at the expo, which I hope to post more about another blog entry soon. Now on to the squash!

Spaghetti Squash is an oblong pale to bright yellow skinned variety of winter squash with bright yellow flesh inside that separates into noodle-like fibers. It is a wonderful alternative to wheat-based pasta. A one-cup serving has only 43 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates and a lot of nutritional value. It has over two grams of fiber, lots of water, three percent of your daily value of calcium and iron, five percent vitamin A, eight percent vitamin B6 and nine percent vitamin C. Check out this site to find out more information.

Small & Large Spaghetti Squash

Here are some ways to prepare spaghetti squash. I prefer to steam it in the oven; see the instructions below. There are lots of recipes on the internet for spaghetti squash that look awfully yummy, especially since you can use it to replace grain-based pasta noodles. How about making an herbed or spiced pasta, like this one over at Smitten Kitchen or the roasted squash recipe from Martha Stewart Living? Just like with regular spaghetti noodles, you can also dress the squash with sauce of many varieties, like this recipe that uses tomato sauce. You can always check out my post on pesto recipes, where I listed a bunch to choose from. This website has even more recipes.

Oven-Steamed Spaghetti Squash

Start with a spaghetti squash of any size. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Be careful when cutting the squash, since it is round. Don’t let the knife slip and cut you. Trim off the ends, occasionally turning the squash order to slice all the way through.

Now cut the squash in half. Use a mallet to get the knife all of the way through if you must to get cut through tough skin. If you do have to use a mallet, firstly, only use a metal knife. Secondly, protect your cutlery by placing a padded layer between the mallet and the knife to prevent denting and warping. I used a silicone gripper for opening tight jars, but you can also use a really thick towel or potholder.

Scoop out the squash strings that run parallel to the long cut edges along with the seeds. You can save the seeds for roasting later; they roast up just like pumpkin seeds.

Put the two halves side by side in a large glass 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish. If your squash is really big, you can use two baking dishes, a basting pan or a broiling pan without the grill. Fill the pan of your choice with half an inch of filtered water.

Cover the pan tightly with foil. Bake the squash for 50 minutes to an hour. Remove the pan from the oven and uncover the squash. Let it cool on a trivet on the counter for 30 minutes or until it is not to hot to handle comfortably.

With a large spoon, separate the skin from the flesh. You may have to peel and break it off a bit at a time with your fingers. Transfer the flesh to a large mixing bowl. Separate the fibers with your hands until they look like noodles. At this time, you can mix in other vegetables, nuts, seeds, meat or vegan sausage and sauce.

Another Super Tasty, Healthy Recipe for Dinner

This recipe is also from the American Heart Association Cookbook.

Cumin Chicken with Onions and Squash

Serves 4, 1 cup per serving

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, all visible fat removed, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

Vegetable Oil Spray

1 large onion, cut in eighths, layers separated

2 medium yellow summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1 inch cubes

1/2 tsp. salt

Put the chicken in a large, shallow bowl or baking dish.  Sprinkle with the chili powder and cumin; stir well.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat.  Remove theskillet from teh heat; lightly spray with vegetable oil spray.  Cook the chicken for 2 minutes, or until browned, stirring occasionally.  Transfer to a medium bowl.

Reduce the heat to medium.  Lightly spray the skillet again with vegetable oil spray.  Cook the onion and squash for 10 minutes, or until they are tender-crisp and the edges of the onion are richly browned, stirring frequently.  Stire in the salt an dthe chicken with any accumulated juices.  Cook for 1 minute, or until the mixture is heated thoroughly and the chicken is no longer pink in the center, stirring occasionally.

Nutritional Info:

Calories 167

Total Fat 1.5 g

Saturated 0.5 g

Polyunsaturated 0.5 g

Monounsaturated 0.5 g

Cholesterol 66 mg

Sodium 373 mg

Carbohydrate 9 g

Fiber 3 g

Protein 28 g