Monday, August 15, 2011

Spaghetti Squash, Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Basil

Dinner tonight was...

Spaghetti Squash, Tomatoes, Mozzarella, and Basil

There are several ways to cook spaghetti squash: whole or cut in half, in the oven or in the microwave, with water or without... This recipe is how I do mine, but you're welcome to try something different for the squash.

1 spaghetti squash–not gigantic, but not tiny
2–3 roma tomatoes, diced (cherry or grape tomatoes, halved, would be yummy too!)
8ish oz. mozzarella (I found smoked mozzarella, which was soo good.)
8–12 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade
1/2 Tbsp butter or olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2–3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
8 oz. tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to-taste

• Preheat oven to 375°/400°. Use a large, sharp knife to stab several holes in the squash. Stick the whole thing in the oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cut in half length-wise. (Either wait a few minutes for it to cool down, or be sure to use an oven mitt. That sucker will be HOT!) Place in an oven-safe casserole dish, like a Pyrex, cut sides down. Fill dish with water, about 1/2 inch deep. Put back in the oven for another 30–45 minutes. When your timer goes off, test to see if it's finished by scraping the insides of the squash to remove the strands. I like mine pretty soft, so I'll often put it back in for another 5–15 minutes. It depends on the squash and your oven and your preference.

• Dice, slice, and mince your veggies and cheese (tomatoes, mozzarella, onion, and garlic) while the squash is cooking. To chiffonade your basil, stack all the leaves lengthwise and use either a knife to slice or kitchen shears to cut into small slices. See a how-to here.

• Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the onions and garlic. Sweat them a bit. Sometimes I like mine softer, sometimes more crunch. Again, your choice. Add the tomato sauce. Remove from heat once the sauce is hot.

• When the spaghetti squash is ready, scrapes all the "pasta" out into the casserole dish or a large bowl. Add the tomatoes and toss. The heat of the squash will lightly cook the tomatoes without making them too mushy. Toss in the sauce mixture, basil, and cheese. Add salt and pepper to-taste.


This is great as-is for a vegetarian, gluten-free meal all on it's own. Or it would be really great as a base for some grilled chicken or protein of your choice. I was looking for something fresh for a summer meal, and a basil/mozzarella combo had been calling my name for weeks!

I was afraid Rob wasn't going to like it—spaghetti squash isn't his favorite, and he's often hungry after a meal with no meat. He's a Kansas boy. But he said, and I quote, "It's actually not bad!" The fresh flavor combination did it for him. And two hours later, he's still not hungry. :)


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Words of encouragement

Peace is not just for the sake of peace; it also creates a bond between the parties seeking peace. Bring it on!


Friday, January 21, 2011

A Blurb and a List

Here's an excerpt from "Cutting for Stone," a book I'm reading by Abraham Verghese:

By midmorning, when we return from our first Bungalow-to-Casualty-to-Women's Ward-to-Front Gate excursion, with Koochooloo as our bodyguard, the kitchen is alive. Steam rises in plumes as Almaz clangs lids on and off the pots. The silver weight on the pressure cooker jiggles and whistles. Almaz's sure hands chop onions, tomatoes, and fresh coriander, making hillocks that dwarf the tiny mounds of ginger and garlic. She keeps a palette of spices nearby: curry leaves, turmeric, dry coriander, cloves, cinnamon, mustard seed, chili powder, all in tiny stainless-steel bowls within a large mother platter. A mad alchemist, she throws a pinch of this, a fistful of that, then wets her fingers and flings that moisture into the mortar. She pounds with the pestle, the wet, crunchy thunk, thunk soon changes to the sound of stone on stone.

Mustard seeds explode in the hot oil. She holds a lid over the pan to fend off the missiles. Rat-a-tat! like hail on a tin roof. She adds the cumin seeds, which sizzle, darken, and crackle. A dry, fragrant smoke chases out the mustard scent. Only then are the onions added, handfuls of them, and now the sound is that of life being spawned in a primordial fire.

This is probably one of the most well-written passages I've read in a long time. I feel like I'm right there in the kitchen, smelling the smells, and worrying about being splattered by hot oil. I had to re-read it several times last night, just to absorb the whole experience. It was a similar experience to the part in Ratatouille when Remy & Linguine are cruising around the kitchen, really in the groove. Except this is a book, not a movie—it's rare for a book to evoke that kind of response for me. Amazing.


I just read this post by Shaun Groves about an exercise they did while learning about adopting. Challenging, convicting, inspiring.

Here's what my list looks like:
Cultural Information

I'm not sure I can get to the second round of cuts. If I don't have a place to call home, or if I'm not able to create, I kind of become a crazy person. If pressed, though, I guess I'd cross off "creating" and "home" next. And if I'm honest, part of me wants to cross off "values" (which represents my faith on this list) before "home."

What things are left on your list? Could you get down to four?


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Work-in-progress Wednesday

It's Wednesday. And I can't think of anything to blog, so maybe a theme will help me out. So, here's what I'm working on:

In a word, it's my future.

Or a giraffe.

More later, after I overcome my fear of failure. ;-)

Happy Wednesday!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Words of encouragement

I needed to be reminded. He's provided in the past, and He will provide in the future. So for now, I wait.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

A great verse to get the year started off right:

Here's to the upward call!