My New Friend, Spaghetti Squash

Make new friends, but keep the old…

I made friends with butternut squash this past winter, early into my “try new foods” experiment. This week, I made friends with a dear relative of the butternut squash – the spaghetti squash. And what a perfect name! This squash makes spaghetti! For real!

It makes a great substitute for traditional pasta noodles, and I plan to try it in every noodle dish I’ve ever had! Last night, though, I did a double-dip into the new foods arena: I roasted a spaghetti squash, and topped it with a sauteed mushroom sauce. Pretty brave, methinks. I’ve been terrified of mushrooms pretty much my entire life. Ironically, I think that they taste good – but I still have to avoid thinking about what I’m eating in order to tolerate them.

I got this recipe from Emily at The Front Burner – Spaghetti Squash and Vegan Mushroom Cream Sauce

Now, I’m certain this recipe would work just as well as a traditional non-vegan cream sauce. (In fact, I had to make mine an almost-vegan cream sauce, because the local grocery store didn’t have non-dairy creamer and I didn’t feel like making the 30 minute trek out to Whole Foods, so I had to get the dairy kind – but I did use soy milk as my sauce base).

Here’s what my dinner looked like (you can find many more photos of the process at the original link):

http://www.thefrontburnerblog.com/2010/09/spaghetti-squash-with-vegan-mushroom-cream-sauce.htmlIt was delish!

I think what “made” the dish was the garlic and olive oil rub that I did on the spaghetti squash before roasting it. I’ve heard that butter and cinnamon works well too, for a more dessert-style side dish (thanks, Athir!) There really isn’t much to it other than, cut the squash in half, scoop out the guts, rub with seasonings, and roast for an hour or so at 375F. When it’s nearly done, prep your sauce, and voila.

The spaghetti squash is a little crunchier than pasta, but not much. It’s also a little bit sweet (so I can see where it would make a great dessert side). It tasted great with garlic!

I plan to try a marinara/cream sauce mix this evening with the leftovers 🙂

Kale and Roasted Root Vegetable Soup

If you would have asked me to eat a “root vegetable” last year, I’d have gagged and said no way, even though I had no idea what root vegetables were. Roots? Just sounds bad. It turns out, though, that I really like the root veggies that I’ve tried since going organic! (For the record, the root veggies in question for this recipe are onions, carrots, garlic, and sweet potatoes). Yum!

The “firsts” for me in this vegan-friendly recipe include:

  • First time I’ve cooked with or eaten kale
  • First time I’ve made beans from dried and not from a can
  • First time I’ve made soup from scratch
  • First time I’ve worn my new Asics GT 2150 running shoes

OK, so the shoes are probably irrelevant to the recipe, but they sure are comfy! And hopefully, they’ll not cause blisters the way my old gym shoes did.

The recipe below comes from Emily’s blog – The Front Burner. Check out her recap – she takes much better food photos than I do, and explains every step in detail. This soup covers a slew of nutritional bases – it’s a good source of Vitamin B6, Folate and Potassium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese. It’s low fat, with no saturated fat and no cholesterol.

On with the cooking!

First, I should explain that I did not use canned beans for this recipe. As part of this week’s homework in the GNOWFGLINS e-course on traditional food preparation, we were to make beans from scratch. I bought some dried navy beans at Whole Foods yesterday, so to prepare for this recipe, I soaked 2/3 cup of dry beans in water with a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar. I soaked the beans overnight, then this morning, rinsed them and put them in the crock pot to cook on high for an hour then on low for 6 more hours. I added a thumb-sized chunk of kombu (a sea vegetable) to the crock pot during cooking to tenderize the beans and break down some of the sugars in them that tend to make them… gassy. Kombu also imparts some mineral goodness. By the time I was ready to cook dinner, the beans were ready to go.

The next step was to chop up carrots and a sweet potato and stick ’em in the oven to roast. They didn’t look very exciting so I didn’t take a picture.

Up next: the stranger in my fridge, Kale. (No, not Kato). Here’s what it looked like, fresh from the bunch:

kaleThe recipe instructed me to pull the leaves from the stems. I wondered all the while if I was doing it right….

Peeling kale leaves from stemsI sure had a lot of kale…. the leaves reminded me of a cross between broccoli and seaweed. (Maybe I just had seaweed on the brain from my recent trip to Whole Foods).

Next I chopped up an onion and minced some garlic and sauteed them for a few minutes before throwing in the roasted carrots and sweet potato.

Roasted veggies awaiting kaleThen, in went the vegetable broth, and then the kale. The kale was huge and fluffy in the pot! I feared I was messing the whole thing up, but I took Emily’s word for it that the kale would wilt. I covered the pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes. At the 5 minute mark, I was still pretty nervous – the kale was huge! I think I might have had a little too much kale to begin with, so I added 1 cup of water. That helped, because by the end of 10 minutes, I could stir the kale into the mix and it was starting to look like soup.

I added the seasonings and simmered for 5 more minutes (ready to jump out of my new shoes because it smelled SO GOOD!)

When the soup was done, I ladled it into a bowl and topped it with a dollop of homemade guacamole that I had in the fridge. (Emily recommends topping with chunks of avocado). I slathered some Earth Balance spread onto a slice of my homemade sourdough bread, and…

Dinner!

Kale soupAll I can say is… this soup was AWESOME!! So tasty! My first impression of kale: thumbs up! Kale is a form of cabbage, a relative of cauliflower and broccoli. It’s a highly nutritious, dark leafy green, and has good anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to have potent anti-cancer properties as well. In this soup, it tasted mild – almost sweet. It’s a hearty green – good for chewing!

For all of its nutrition, a big ol’ bowl of this soup clocks in around 235 calories. I can’t wait for the leftovers! 100% delish.

[recipe-show recipe=kale-soup]

EpicOrganic.net

Stealth Ninja Vegetable Experiment: Prep

*queue Mission Impossible music*

Actually, I think this mission is quite possible! I am embarking upon what I call the Stealth Ninja Vegetable Experiment. You are about to bear witness to Phase 1: Prep.

It all started when my sister in law Amanda suggested that I check out this book: Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld (yes, Jerry’s wife). Since I was already sold on the possibility of hiding veggies in my smoothies, I thought this book might hold some promise (though I’d be attempting to deceive myself, not kids). I picked it up at my local library (Homer Township Library ftw!) and decided to give it a test-drive.Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld

The basic premise of the book is that you puree a variety of vegetables and store them in 1/2 cup portions in little ziplock baggies, then sneak them into recipes as needed. Sounds good to me!