Spaghetti Squash “Pasta” Bake

It’s 61 degrees today in Brooklyn. In January. Ummm, oookaaaay. My apartment is a tad bit warm from roasting the spaghetti squash and then baking the “pasta” dish. But, hey, my dinner is done and I just need to reheat it later on this evening. I love it when a plan comes together. Also, I realized that there is a better way to cook spaghetti squash. My friend, Molly and I were just talking yesterday about struggling to cut the squash in half and how comical it was. Newsflash: pierce squash all over with a fork and cook in the microwave for 12-15 minutes, or, in a baking dish in the oven at 400 degrees for 60 minutes. SO. Much. Easier this way! Also, I used my favorite jarred Muir Glen pasta sauce because it’s Sunday and I’m feeling a little lazy.

  • 1 cooked spaghetti squash
  • 1/2 the jar of pasta sauce
  • 1/2C panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2C (or more) of grated pecorino
  • Italian herb blend
  • Crushed red pepper

Let the cooked squash cool (or be a doofus and burn your hand like I did earlier), then use a spoon to scoop out the innards and seeds, discard those. Then, use a fork to scrape out the squash, add it to a large mixing bowl. Add the sauce and stir until combined. Add mixture to an 8×8 baking dish. Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese and herbs, sprinkle on top of the spaghetti squash mixture. I added a bit more pecorino romanao cheese too Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or, until the topping is browned and bit crispy.

Tomato Pesto with Campanelle

Well, I think I’ve done it this year. I’ve eaten my weight in summer tomatoes. I can’t get enough of them because to me, the flavor of a good, ripe, juicy tomato epitomizes summer fruit and vegetables. Tomato and bean salad? Yes! Fire-roasted salsa? Please! Gazpacho? You bet. Sliced tomatoes and avocados on toast? Bring it. I get excited at the first site of tomatoes and buy them at least three times a week, and get wistful and sad at the last of them come Fall. Oh, and I’m pretty sure that this recipe will win over even those who aren’t fond of tomatoes. You know who you are. Ahem.

  • 1 container of cherry tomatoes, or heirloom cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 C. toasted almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 C of basil
  • 1/2 clove of garlic
  • 2 cups pasta, cooked al dente
  • Grated pecorino romano (optional)

Add tomatoes, oil, almonds, basil and garlic to a food processor and pulse until combined, but not soupy. Add pesto to warm, cooked pasta and cheese. Don’t add too many tomatoes (oops, like I did the first time) because you’ll have a soup or salsa instead of a pesto. You can adjust the garlic too. I didn’t want to overpower the flavor of the tomatoes….because I’m trying to enjoy the last of the best taste of summer. Insert sigh here: _______

Asparagus, Basil, Almond Pesto

I just threw this together and I have to pat myself on the back for this one, it’s deliciously spring-like. The toasted almonds give it a nice, light crunch. It’s very fresh tasting with the addition of a squeeze of lemon juice too. I’m thinking it would also be good as a dip or on pizza and in calzones. I didn’t add any cheese because I like to keep it vegan and let people add their own cheese if they wish.

  • 1/2 C. toasted almonds
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, blanched
  • 1 small to medium size bunch of basil, washed
  • 1/4 – 1/2 small clove garlic
  • Up to 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • juice from half a lemon

Toast the almonds over medium heat but don’t let them get too brown. (You don’t want burnt almonds, you want to toast them until the oils are released from the nuts. You can tell by the smell). Blanch the asparagus (place trimmed asparagus in boiling water for 2.5 minutes, then remove and submerge asparagus in ice cold water in a bowl). Add the asparagus, basil, toasted almonds, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic to a food processor and puree until smooth. You may have to add more olive oil to make pesto smoother. Also, the amount of garlic is up to you. I barely used 1/4 of a clove because I think it overpowers the other flavors. If you’re putting the pesto on pasta, set aside a 1/2 cup of the past water and add it to the pasta/pesto to thin out the dish. The addition of hot pasta water makes for a creamier consistency.

asparaguspesto

Broccoli Pesto

Want to try a different kind of pesto? Cool, so did I. What follows is my adaptation of a conglomeration of recipes I found online. I don’t use cheese in my pesto, but would rather add to my pasta when I eat it. But, as always, you can adapt this to your taste and add some grated Pecorino Romano if you wish. I had my pesto with mini rigatoni pasta, and long fusilli. This recipe also works well as a dip with pita chips (or so I’m told by a ginger from Nebraska [he seems trustworthy enough ;)]). Enjoy!

  • Trimmed, washed broccoli florets from one head of broccoli
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup roasted almonds (optional)
  • Handful of rinsed basil leaves
  • Crushed red pepper to taste
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup of Pecorino Romano cheese (if using)

Trim and wash broccoli florets. You can either steam them in the microwave or in a steamer on the stove. I chose the lazy route (hello, less dishes to wash) and steamed them in a bowl in a bit of water in the microwave. Steam until they’re bright green (not mushy!). Add florets, basil leaves, almonds (if using), olive oil, crushed red pepper, garlic to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until ground and just combined. You may find that you’ll need to add more olive oil at this point. Season to your liking. Consume!

(Somewhat lazy) Lactino Kale Pesto and Lumachine

I was going to make some butternut squash risotto for dinner later, then I realized that I only had one carton of vegetable stock. Well, that wouldn’t do because I need 6-8 cups of stock. I didn’t feel like going outside and interrupting my work flow, so, the risotto will have to wait another day. And here I was all jazzed about risotto. Oh well. I searched in my fridge (which makes it sound like I have a bottomless vegetable crisper) and decided to use the lactino kale and make some pesto. So, I made it, tasted and adjusted and I’m still not sure about it. I added toasted walnuts, a clove of garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper…BUT, it was still too bitter. Hm. So I added dash of white balsamic vinegar, some lemon zest and half a lemons worth of juice. Still not too sure. I will try it later. If it’s a fail, well, that’s okay. We should embrace our failures as much as our successes. I froze more than half the huge portion and will eat the remainder this week. After all, it’s just me here. No one to impress, really..

I wanted to use tiny shell pasta or even orzo for this. Of course you can use penne, rigatoni, or a tube pasta. Or, you can use a grain like couscous, farro, or barley too.

Kale Pesto

  • One bunch of lactino kale, washed trimmed
  • 1/3 -1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
  • Handful of toasted walnuts
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon (optional)
  • Dash of white balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar (optional)
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Dash of red pepper flakes

Concerning the kale, I cut off the very end of the stalks but used most of the stems in addition to the leaves. (Hm, maybe that’s where some of the bitterness comes from?). Put all ingredients in a food processor until well combined. You may only need 1/3 cup of oil. If you have walnut oil, you could use that instead too. If you don’t have walnuts, use almonds. Those are good too. I don’t like pine nuts, hence they’re not in the recipe. Serve with warm pasta. Also, don’t drain out all the pasta water. While adding the pesto to the pasta in the bowl, add a few ladles (1/2 cup) of the pasta water. The starchy water makes the sauce creamier/thicker and helps with the consistency.