squash

Entrée, Fall, Gluten Free

LASAGNA STYLE SPAGHETTI SQUASH

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We've talked potatoes and pumpkin pie to death so let's move on to solving dinner problems for all other days of the year. I would take one of these lasagna squashes over a majorly brown thanksgiving plate any day. Sorry, bah humbug. Last year, I had dinner with some of my dearest college girlfriends at Malibu Farms (have you seen their cookbook? It's beautiful and casual and colorful) and I still think of this spaghetti squash dish we shared. It was creamy, but not overly so, could be ordered vegetarian or not, tasted like comfort food but didn't sit in your gut as such. I know in the season of cooking and romantically long prep time with your glass of wine and holiday tunes, this recipe may come off as old news, but a simple dinner is what I am more interested in in the long term. I made four, and my kids mostly poked at it. They saves well and can handle a reheat the following day or perhaps you have another couple over to share. I made a few notes in the headnote on meal suggestions. 
Grateful for this space - that my life and cooking may grow and change and these pages reflect the process of such. Happy belated Thanksgiving to you, lovelies.  

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LASAGNA STYLE SPAGHETTI SQUASH // Serves 4
I served this with a simple arugula salad on the side. If you have animal-protein-hungry people in your life, brown some ground turkey or beef and add it to the marinara layer. The squash can be roasted in advance to get ahead and everything else comes together pretty quickly.
No dairy? Kite Hill makes a fabulous almond based ricotta if you can find it (try Whole Foods) and maybe you can top it with some toasted breadcrumbs or pine nuts to give it the richness it will lack from the other cheeses. Trader Joes also started carrying a premade, vegan cashew pesto in the fridge section that I imagine would be lovely mixed in with the shredded squash layer. I trust you can make adjustments where needed. 

2 small spaghetti squash
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 a yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
8-10 oz baby spinach or kale
8 oz./ 1 cup ricotta
1 tsp. dried Italian herbs (or dried oregano or fennel seeds if that's what you have)
4 oz. / 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, plus more for topping
1/3 cup parmesan, divided
juice of half a lemon
2 cups homemade or your favorite store-bought marinara
fresh parsley, for garnish

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Preheat the oven to 400'. Halve your squash and scoop out the seeds. Rub all sides with a thin coat of oil and roast the squash, cut side down, for about 45 minutes, or until the squash shreds easily. Let them cool for 15 minutes and then carefully shred all the strands into a bowl, keeping the squash shell intact. Reserve squash shells. Squeeze them with a dishtowel to remove some of the moisture if the squash looks soggy. 
Warm a generous tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions along with a pinch of salt and saute for a few minutes until fragrant and softened. Add the garlic and saute another minute. Add the baby spinach and saute until just wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Add the spinach to the bowl of squash, along with the ricotta, dried herbs, mozzarella, half of the parmesan and the juice of half a lemon. Stir everything to mix. Taste for salt and pepper, it will likely need both. Line the bottoms of the squash shells with marinara and sort of push it up the sides. Add the cooked ground meat here, if using. Be generous on the sauce, it needs the acid to balance the creaminess. Distribute the squash mixture on top. Sprinkle the tops with a little extra mozzarella and parmesan. Line a baking tray with parchment and bake the squash for 20 minutes to warm through. Broil them for a couple minutes at the end to finish and brown the tops. 
Garnish the tops with fresh parsley and serve warm. 
 

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Entrée, Side, Gluten Free, Winter, Fall

ROASTED VEGETABLE + QUINOA BOWL

Roasted Vegitables & Quinoa Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen
Roasted Vegitables & Quinoa Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen

The past few months I have been working as a personal chef for a couple who work long days and want their fridge full of healthy meals to come home to. It's a pretty great situation seeing as I get to do what I enjoy, can stay in my gym clothes, and it's flexible hours with Curran. I don't necessarily come home wanting to cook for my own family, but such is life. The wife was asking for me to leave some of the recipes of the foods I've been making them and I still haven't responded because I don't, um, have recipes to leave. I'm not one for rules, with practice, cooking has become an intuition sort of deal, and I think that's only because I understand the basic principle and can go off on my own from there. Anyway, I've been making big batches of roasted vegetables for them and realize that while it's not always a recipe, understanding a few things about doing them well, is helpful. A few tips I've learned only by doing them wrong a lot of times:

* They need a generous coat of oil. Vegetables are mostly water, and a generous coat of oil creates a barrier between the heat and their water, allowing them to retain the natural moisture as opposed to it cooking off and the vegetables just getting dry. It also dresses them at the end, so while you don't want them sitting in a big pool of it, you should see the oil coating everything.

* You want to use vegetables with a similar cooking time, and cut their size appropriately. For example, here, I know delicata will get soft before the fennel, so I cut the delicata on the large side and the fennel on the thin side so their cooking times balance. Make sense? Autumn vegetables usually need a little more time than summer so if you are cooking seasonal things, your timing should work out. Summer items like zucchini, peppers, eggplant have more water and less natural sugar in them so I find they roast in about half the time. 

* A large, rimmed baking tray is key. Oil and season on the tray and just toss with your hands there for one less dirty dish. A thin lip lets the moisture escape so you get a good crust. 

* Out of the oven, let them sit for a few minutes. Don't smoosh them all in a bowl so fast as they will steam each other and get moosh (technical term). Give them space to breathe before putting them on a serving platter. When I cook for work or make roasted vegetables in advance, I let them cool completely before packing them up for the fridge. 

* Salt enough. Not too much. I can't tell you how much, that's a personal taste deal. But don't get stingy, I'll say that much. 

* The other spices are up to you. I generally throw in something spicy, dried herbs and fresh herbs after baking. But you can be generous with these as well. I love za'atar on carrots, cayenne and maple on sweet potatoes, cumin and cinnamon on squashes, and lemon pepper and Italian herbs on zucchini. I like a little soy sauce or maple syrup on occasion but this adds moisture to the pan so only use a teensy bit to avoid steaming. 

Anyway. I am no master, but a trial-and-error, learn by doing sort of thing has left me with the above constants in my vegetable roasting experience. Feel free to share your tips or favorite spices in the comments, I love to have new ideas. 

Roasted Vegitables & Quinoa Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen
Roasted Vegitables & Quinoa Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen

ROASTED VEGETABLE + QUINOA BOWL // Serves 6

  • 1 medium fennel bulb
  • 1 small onion, red or yellow
  • 4 carrots, cleaned
  • 2 small delicata squash
  • 1/2 lb. brussels sprouts
  • 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (I used a chile infused one for a bit of spice)
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. everyday seasoning or Italian herb blend
  • pinch of cayenne 
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • few big handfuls of baby kale
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese, to taste
  • microgreens, for garnish
Roasted Vegitables & Quinoa Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen
Roasted Vegitables & Quinoa Bowl . Sprouted Kitchen

Preheat the oven to 400'. Prepare all your vegetables and collect them on a large baking tray. Halve the fennel and slice it into wedges. Peel the onion, cut off the ends, and slice it into thin wedges, cut the end off the carrots and slice 1" pieces on a diagonal. Scoop the seeds from the squash and slice it into thick half moons. Halve large brussels and leave the small ones whole. Drizzle the olive oil, salt, a few pinches of pepper, everyday seasoning and cayenne. Toss to coat well and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Dividing into two sheets if it looks over crowded. Bake in the upper third of the oven for twenty minutes. Turn the heat up to 425' and cook another 20 minutes or until the edges of the vegetables are browned and crisp. 

While the vegetables roast, cook the quinoa. Put the quinoa and broth in a pot. Bring it up to a gentle boil, down to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, add a few handfuls of baby kale and leave the lid ajar so it cools. This will barely wilt the kale so its not quite so raw. Once it is room temperature, drizzle in the olive oil, red wine vinegar and a hearty pinch of salt and pepper and toss to coat. Transfer to your serving bowl. Top with the roasted vegetables, pine nuts, feta cheese and microgreens.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Appetizer, Entrée, Fall, Gluten Free

MAPLE SPICE DELICATA, FENNEL + KALE BOWL

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My oven was down for a few days. Actually closer to a week... even longer if you consider it was only heating up to 300' - max. Something about the gas valve. I cook often, but it'd be dramatic and exaggerated to say I use my oven every day. I go on cooking binges but I can certainly get by without it for a week, no huge deal. From the moment the maintenance guy said he needed to order a part and to not use it in the meantime, all I could think about was what I NEEDED my oven for. We need another lemon loaf. I was out of granola. I've seen all these wonderful photos of homemade bread and while I've tried and failed before, I must try again, immediately. But since he said not to use it and I didn't want to risk the kitchen filling up with gas and blowing up, we kept meals simple and stovetop. I was dreaming up recipes yesterday and Hugh mentioned a theory about creativity actually thriving in confined parameters. Infinite freedom is too chaotic, there needs to be parameters whether it be money, time, space, a theme, lyrics etc. - constraint based creativity. With a bit of googling, turns out a number of people have written on creativity blooming within restriction versus a vast blank canvas. Twitter for example, the 140 character confinement that revolutionized social media.

Fast forward to today, and it seems that the oven hiatus pushed me to try new things. I didn't need to make granola or another lemon loaf. I actually needed to not make those things to get out of a rut. I finally bought a waffle iron after talking about it for two years and made my new favorite chocolate treat that I'll post next week. This all sounds like a complete "first world problem" but you catch my drift. I needed my oven to break down is what I'm trying to say. 

I've had a few delicata squash appetizers in the past few months that I can't get out of my head. One was back in Portland at Clyde Common, an understated pile of roasted delicata with a handful of greens, shaved parmesan and hazelnuts and another was generously bathed in brown butter and topped with crumbled amareti at Mozza. The squash pairs so perfectly with warm and sweet spices and the fact that you can eat the skin makes them that much more attractive. It's honestly past delicata squash time around here, they were gone in a blink. Just as I'd given up, promising to pay closer attention when fall rolls around again, I found a few lonesome ones at a market I don't often frequent. I hope you can find some near you, but some chunks of butternut or kabocha can work here just fine. A warm salad, a side dish, a whole meal if you'd like with the addition of some lentils or a poached egg. I will add some toasted hazelnuts next time, or maybe a sharp, dry cheese. Let me know if you add anything you like. Call it what you wish, but I've been dreaming of this warm, spiced bowl of my favorite squash. 

Speaking of bowls, I wrote a recipe for Wisconsin Cheese showcasing their gorgonzola and they created a video of our process. Have a look if you're interested. 

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MAPLE SPICE DELICATA, FENNEL + KALE BOWL // Serves 4

A note on texture. As written, the kale ends up somewhere between a kale chip and sauteed kale - crisp edges and a tender center. If you want it more crisp, make sure your kale is completely dry and add 5 minutes to the baking time. If you prefer it less crisp, take 5 minutes off the baking time, giving it just enough time to wilt. The squash and fennel have some kick, if you don't like too much spice, eliminate the red pepper flakes. 

  • 3 small delicata squash (about 1 - 1.5 lb. total) skin on, halved and seeded
  • 1 large fennel bulb, reserving fronds for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. Grade B Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp. whole grain mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg
  • salt (smoked or sea salt) + pepper
  • 1 bunch purple kale, stems removed
  • 3 Tbsp. minced red onion
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Preheat the oven to 400'. Arrange one oven rack in the upper third and one on the bottom third. 

Slice the squash into 1'' half moons. Slice the fennel down the center, cut out the tough core, slice into 1/2'' wedges. Spread everything on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil, maple, mustard, cayenne, red pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and a few generous pinches of smoked salt and pepper. Toss gently to coat everything, adding another drizzle of oil or maple if it seems too dry. Roast in the upper third of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the squash is tender and caramelized, tossing the vegetables half way through. 

Rip the kale into large chunks, drizzle it with remaining olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread it on another baking sheet. At the 30 minute mark, move the squash tray to the lower rack and put the kale on the top rack. Bake for 10 minutes until the edges are crisp. Add your minced onion and gently toss everything together. Enjoy warm. 

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