Thursday, September 30, 2010

Osh Squash B'Gosh

I had my first fight with a squash yesterday.  After visiting the Mississippi Farmer's Market on my way home from work, this bright yellow Cucurbita pepo, also called vegetable spaghetti and noodle squash, was carted home. I went for a run on the Ridgeland Trace and thought about how I'd cook my pretty squash.   
929 High Street, Jackson, MS
I remembered making spaghetti squash awhile back, but I did not remember the process of cutting one.  I placed the squash in front of me and pressed my knife into its outer core.  I was stuffed like a QB on a failed quarterback sneak. My tiny puncture was laughable.  So I got out my Viking knife (Santoku 5").  This knife has never let me down; it may not have been created for a squash, but it's always been my favorite kitchen weapon. 
I googled, "How to cut a squash" (always have the computer handy in the kitchen) and watched a YouTube video, which didn't help.  Basically, you have to be strong, and careful.  I'm not careful, so I said a quick prayer - God, please let me eat squash without losing a finger.  After placing my entire weight on the knife I finally cut into the squash.  Only to then discover my knife was stuck.  I grabbed the knife handle, squash attached, and made a thrusting motion towards the floor.  The Mississippi State vs Georgia game was on in the living room.  I had inspiration!  Concerned for my precious knife and safety, I decided to continue wiggling the knife.  After several pushes and pulls, the squash released my knife and I'd made a large enough incision to pry the squash apart with my hands.  Ahhhh...here we go.  Victory.

RECIPE
Lay both squash halves downward (skins up) on a baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes at 375 degrees.


I planned to use leftovers in my pantry and frig for the recipe, so I began searching for my ingredients.  I found fresh basil, pimento stuffed olives, feta cheese, onion, and tomatoes. 

After removing the squash from the oven, I used a fork to rake the insides of the squash halves, which creates the spaghetti. I sauteed my diced onion in butter and added to the spaghetti.  I then tossed my diced olives and tomatoes, feta cheese, and fresh basil with the spaghetti.  Add a little salt and pepper, and scrumptious!  There are a multitude of recipes for spaghetti squash that will suit your buds at
http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,spaghetti_squash,FF.html.



Easy Prep and Cook for Spaghetti Squash: 

Zap squash in the microwave for several minutes to create tender skin for easier cutting.
Cook squash in the microwave for 6-8 minutes (easiest method).
Boil a whole squash for 30 minutes.  
You do not have to cut the squash in half before baking, but it will take twice as long to cook.
Step by step instructions on cooking squash at http://startcooking.com/blog/523/Spaghetti-Squash  


Replace noodles with spaghetti squash and enjoy these health benefits:
One cup of cooked spaghetti squash, has 40 calories, 2 grams of dietary fiber, very low fat content and no cholesterol.
Spaghetti squash contains omega-3 essential fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids; good for preventing heart disease, cancer and inflammation caused by arthritis, and promotes brain function.
Recent researches suggest that spaghetti squash is good for prostate health and it can also be used in the treatment of benign prostrate enlargement.
Spaghetti squash is very rich in beta carotene, which can prevent atherosclerosis and is also beneficial for people with insulin resistance. 
Spaghetti squash is a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C and both are antioxidants, which can prevent cell damage. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Delish Pasta, and Healthy Too

I made this pasta last night and substituted/added a few ingredients.  The most fun part of cooking is walking into the grocery store with a basic meal in mind, until you see all the colorful ingredients that can be added!  I begin grabbing and rearranging my menu every time.  P.S.  I don't use measurements very well, I'm an eye'er. 

Ingredients
whole wheat pasta (any kind)
extra virgin olive oil
boneless chicken breasts
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 can of diced tomatoes with italian seasonings
baby spinach
1 red bell pepper
1 white onion
artichoke hearts, diced (and some juice too)
fresh mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste

*The recipe called for mushrooms and ricotta cheese, but I used bell pepper, artichoke and fresh mozzarella

Directions
Boil noodles.  Season chicken with salt and pepper, then brown in olive oil. In a separate pan saute onion, bell pepper and fresh garlic in olive oil. 

Drain noodles.  Pour sauteed mix into large boiling pot (where noodles were).  Then add can of tomatoes, artichokes (a little of the juice), mozzarella and spinach.  Heat with lid closed for about 5 minutes (until spinach is wilted and cheese melted). 

Finally, add chicken and noodles to pot and stir.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Bet some red pepper flakes would be great too!

Happy Cooking!
 
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