Showing posts with label squash. Show all posts
Showing posts with label squash. Show all posts

Monday, June 8, 2015

Using your Noodle - Spaghetti Squash with Olives, Prunes and Smoked Beef

Spaghetti Squash with Olives, Prunes and Smoked Beef

Spaghetti Squash with Olives, Prunes and Smoked Beef
Something that is a bit of a pet peeve of mine is when you see something presenting as a ‘healthy version’ of a dish by replacing the main ingredient that makes it the original dish – but still calls it the original. Like a “burger”  or ‘taco’ which uses lettuce leaves instead of a bun or tortillas. Those are lettuce leaf wraps, or even a fusion version of san choy bau. I am happy to eat them, happy for them to be a dish but don’t try and trick me by calling it a burger or a taco. Or anything called a cheesecake that doesn’t contain cheese. I love cashew cream, and the various versions of nut cake that try to simulate the cheesecake texture…but they are an entirely different category of cake!

The other main one is spaghetti using zucchini. I love zucchini ‘noodles’ as a side dish. I’ve had a huge variety of dishes with the zucchini prepared this way that have been tasty ways of eating the vegetable…but no matter how hard you try convince me otherwise, they are not a replacement for flour and egg noodles. It is not spaghetti. Call it something else. Please!

Given my mini-rant, this dish might be confusing at first because it is buttered spaghetti squash. But I am not trying to trick you into thinking it is a low-carb or gluten-free version of buttered noodles. That’s just the variety of squash that I used. Spaghetti squash aren’t hugely common in Perth although the ones I buy are grown in the Southern Forests Region (I get mine from the Nanna Shop), and they are named for the flesh that when roasted, you can pull it into strands that look, well, spaghetti-like. But, make no mistake. This is a delicious vegetable dish, it is not pasta. Although, you could make this a pasta dish by subbing in noodles for the squash.

If you can’t find a spaghetti squash, you can use Kent or butternut pumpkin diced into 1-2cm cubes and roasted until tender but not falling apart. This dish uses half a spaghetti squash, but I tend to roast a whole one each time, then use the leftover shredded flesh in another dish. Bresaola is a smoked meat you can find in good delis amongst the other cold meats. If you can’t get hold of any, prosciutto or bacon diced up and fried would work well.

Spaghetti Squash with Olives, Prunes and Smoked Beef
Spaghetti Squash with Olives, Prunes and Smoked Beef
Spaghetti Squash with Olives, Prunes and Smoked Beef
Spaghetti Squash with Olives, Prunes and Smoked Beef

Spaghetti Squash with Olives, Prunes and Smoked Beef

1 spaghetti squash
6 slices bresaola, cut into strips (if you can’t find, sub prosciutto or bacon)
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp butter
1 brown onion, thinly sliced into half moons
3 cloves garlic, minced
9 olives stuffed with pimento, sliced into rounds
5 prunes, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
To serve
Toasted pistachios, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 175C. Cut the spaghetti squash down the middle and scoop out the seeds. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Drizzle a little olive oil on the cut flesh of the squash and rub it over to distribute and coat thinly. Place, cut side down onto the baking tray and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the flesh is tender. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool enough to handle.

Slice the bresaola into strips, and place into a frypan over medium heat. Cook, stirring here and there for around 2 minutes, or until some of the fat renders out, and it crisps and curls up in parts. Remove to a paper towel lined tray and set aside.

In the same pan, add the olive oil and butter, allow the butter to melt. Add the onion moons and ½ teaspoon salt and cook until translucent, 3 minutes, then add the garlic. Continue cooking until the onions become a nice golden colour, around 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, pull the spaghetti squash flesh into strands with a fork. Put half away in a container in the fridge for another use. The other half, stir through the buttery onions, ensuring it is all well coated. Then add the olives, prunes and bresaola and stir to evenly distribute. Check for seasoning, then serve with chopped pistachios.
Spaghetti Squash with Olives, Prunes and Smoked Beef
Spaghetti Squash with Olives, Prunes and Smoked Beef
Spaghetti Squash with Olives, Prunes and Smoked Beef

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sparkling Meals - Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce

Sparkling Meals - Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce
Sparkling Meals - Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce

Sometimes, you have multiple things to celebrate in a short space of time. Like having an award winning Chocolate Beer Jam. Or having it confirm that your recipe will be included in a cookbook. Or having a birthday. And all of those things individually might require a toast…but together, they definitely do. And sometimes, you somehow are left with a half bottle of bubbles when such an occasion arises. I am a little funny about drinking bubbles after the day I open them. Even though we have an incredible re-corking stopper, it’s just something I don’t enjoy as much after the fact. And so I was left with a little champagne (in reality, sparkling wine, but I’m gonna be fancy and call it champagne) that I couldn’t bear to waste. Well, cooking with it seems like the best use!

I’d seen (and eaten) quite a few champagne cupcakes in the last few months. Seems like quite the trend in Perth at the moment! But I wanted dinner, not cupcakes!

My next thought went to my gin and crab pasta, and then to the good deal of seafood pastas with vodka sauces over the years and thought that a seafood pasta sauce was definitely the go. But, I wanted the flavour of the champagne to shine through. It’s not as strong a flavour as the gin, so I didn’t want a thick creamy sauce, so I went with a buttery base. I added some delicious Shark Bay Prawns, and some finely sliced yellow squash for a mellow, summery addition. All complimentary, but subtle flavours. And here’s the kicker. Vanilla. Adding a vanilla bean to the reducing champagne takes this from tasty to next level delicious. It adds a sweetness that you can’t quite put your finger on, but you’d immediately notice it’s absence. Trust me on this. Then you’ll probably want to open another bottle of bubbles to drink with the dish. And you might end up with a little leftover…

This is a very simple dish with very few ingredients, so it pays for them to be good quality. I recommend using fresh spaghetti if you can, and although my champagne was day old, it was still good champagne. You can use anything you would ordinarily drink. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but given the scope of sweetness and dryness you get in sparklings, make it something you enjoy drinking.

Oh, and the last note I will add is that this dish comes together really quickly once you start cooking. I’d say it’s maybe a 15 minute meal. So prep all your ingredients first, get your pasta water boiling (especially if you have dried pasta) and then begin cooking. I used salted butter as that’s what I had, so I needed less salt than you will if you use unsalted.

Sparkling Meals - Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce
Sparkling Meals - Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce
Sparkling Meals - Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce
Sparkling Meals - Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce

Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce 

1 ½ cups champagne (sparkling wine)
2 shallots, finely diced
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1 vanilla bean
125g butter, cubed.
Salt and pepper
500g fresh pasta
250g peeled prawns
4 yellow squash, very finely sliced
Chopped parsley to serve
Red chilli flakes (optional)
More champagne to drink with it!

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

In a large sautee pan, pour in the champagne, shallots and garlic and a little pepper. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pan, then throw the pod in too. Bring to the boil over a medium heat and keep it simmering until it’s reduced by half. Add the butter, a few cubes at a time, and whisk well after each addition to blend into the sauce. Stir well for a further 1-2 minutes to thicken the sauce, then discard the vanilla pod and add the squash slices and prawns. Check for seasoning.

Put the fresh pasta into the boiling water.

Stir the prawns and squash into the sauce well, coating in the sauce and allowing to cook through. 2-3 minutes. At this point, your pasta should also be cooked, using tongs, pull the spaghetti into the sauce, allowing some (not too much) cooking water to come with it. Stir well to coat all the noodles in the sauce and blend the cooking liquid in.

Serve with some chopped parsley and some chilli flakes, if you’d like

Sparkling Meals - Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce
Sparkling Meals - Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce
Sparkling Meals - Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce
Sparkling Meals - Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce
Sparkling Meals - Prawn and Squash Spaghetti with Champagne Sauce

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Birthday Meals - Fig and Apple BBQ Pasta Sauce

My husband and I both tend to have birthday week, at least. Sometimes birthday month. We generally don't buy each other presents unless there’s something specific we find (this is true for all gift-giving occasions). Instead it becomes a week or so full of birthday-related activities. This year, his parents threw their annual party. The day of his birthday I met his boat after work and we had tapas and beers at Monk Brewery with a few friends and the next day I cooked him this for dinner for his Birthday + 1. I had told him I wanted to cook him something special for his birthday and he told me he doubted I could. Everything I cook was special. Bless him.

We are both big fans of ribs. Sticky, BBQ sauce smothered ribs. Preferably smokey. Along with my collection of hot sauces, I have a handful of different BBQ sauces in my pantry, too. I was thinking about how they all have a similar base flavour, and started contemplating what it was that makes a BBQ sauce taste like a BBQ sauce. Basically it’s a combination of sweet, salt and vinegar. The ‘sweet’ is usually fruity. And then it’s got some spice in there. Pretty simple, really. I knew I didn’t have enough time to come home from work and cook ribs (they are so much better slow-cooked), but I still wanted that sticky sweet sauce. I got it in my head to make a pasta, but didn’t want to just use a BBQ sauce from the bottle because they tend to be a bit ‘much’ in large quantities. The vinegar and sugar can take over.

I had been given a few sundowner apples from my parents’ after an orchard trip. I’m not the hugest fan of them to just eat, I find they can be a bit ‘floury’. I like my apples tart and crisp – like pink ladies, or fujis. But, I thought they’d make the perfect sweet base for a BBQ sauce. I added some figs, because I had some. You can always substitute another apple, or maybe a few nectarines or peaches seeing as they’re in season. To me, the sauce turned out perfectly and Lance swears up and down that it wasn’t BBQ sauce but was delicious. I asked him what it tasted like and what BBQ sauce tasted like. He repeated back all of the same flavours for both. What was ‘missing’ was it being further reduced to concentrate the flavours like the traditional condiment – but this was the reason I didn’t want to just use a bottled sauce in the first place. So, I am going to make this again, but cook it in my slow cooker for a few hours to reduce it further, then puree it to make a condiment BBQ sauce. And as a compromise, I am calling this a BBQ Pasta Sauce instead of just a BBQ sauce.

To make the pasta, I had some beautiful little yellow squash and zucchini, then some leftover roast beef that I shredded. Some pork or chicken would go well, too. Then I added a tonne of basil and flat leaf parsley at the end. I wanted it to be more of a vegetable than a herb.
This recipe has a lot of ingredients, but most of them are spices, so don’t get too overwhelmed by that. For me, they are all pantry staples. The mustard seeds and cumin seeds I measured before I toasted and ground them. If you have pre-ground spices, then you’d probably need a little less.

Fig and Apple BBQ Pasta Sauce
(serves 4-6)
2 shallots
4 cloves garlic
2 apples
6 figs
1 shot bourbon
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp smokey paprika
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp pepper
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup water
½ cup apple cider vinegar

Assembling the Pasta
6 yellow squash, diced
1/2 zucchini, diced
1 cup shredded cooked beef
Bunch basil leaves, roughly torn
Bunch flatleaf parsley leaves, roughly torn
500g egg noodles

In a large, tall sided pan (I used my tagine pan) on a low heat, add the olive oil and when it’s warmed up, add the shallots and garlic and sautee for about 5 minutes until translucent. You don’t want to colour them, you want it sweet and soft. Then add the apples, figs, salt and bourbon. Stir well, then cover and leave to simmer around 10 minutes while you prep the rest.

In a dry pan, toast the cumin and mustard seeds for 15-30 seconds until the mustard seeds ‘pop’. Add to a spice grinder or mortar & pestle with the peppercorns and grind until fine. Add the two paprikas and chili powder to the spice mix. Mix together the water, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar and honey. Pour into the apple mixture. Add the spice mixture into the pan as well and mix everything really well. Cover again and simmer away for at least 20 minutes. The fruit should break down and go mushy turning into a delicious sticky sauce. Check for seasoning.

Meanwhile, place a pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta. Cook according to packet instructions. Add the squash, beef and zucchini to the sauce and cook until warmed through and the vegetables have softened – 10 minutes. Add the pasta when al dente, and the herbs, and stir through. Serve!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

One Pot Meals - Yummy Chicken with Squash, Quinoa and Popcorn

During the week, as much as I love a quick meal, I also love an easy to clean meal. Especially since our dishwasher died the other day. I used to hate the idea of dishwashers. I thought they were a pointless waste of time and money. When we bought our house, it had a dishwasher already and in the first year or so of living there, we only ever used it about 4 times. They were when we had a big dinner party that used pretty much our whole cupboard at once. I'm not sure why, but sometime after that first year, something changed and we started using it all the time. There's only the two of us, so generally it takes 4 days or so to fill - but it's awesome. A revelation. So much of my life was being wasted at the sink! And now it's broken, and folks, you can't go back. It's impossible. So I'll be spending the next few weekends shopping for a replacement. My husband scratched up his hands cleaning the gutters, so he currently can't help with the dishes - but he does massage my shoulders while I do. A fair compromise, I think!

Until the dishwasher is replaced, I'm leaning towards cooking everything outside on the BBQ, or making one pot/pan dishes. Like this one. The flavours for this were inspired by a dish my aunt makes that she calls something technical like yummy chicken sauce. It's basically a mixture of whole-seed mustard and peanut butter, that she puts in the pan as she cooks her chicken breasts. It is yummy, so it's well named. I've changed it up a bit to allow for the extra liquid required to cook the quinoa. And added the veges so it all cooks together in the one pan. I swapped peanut butter for cashews, used a different mustard and added maple syrup. So, it's not exactly 'yummy chicken', but it is yummy chicken. I only tell you all of these substitutions, because I remember her once offering me a slice of carrot and walnut cake. Only she didn't have carrot, so she used zucchini. And she didn't have walnuts, so she used pecans. But it was still a 'carrot and walnut cake'. So I think she'd be ok with my substitutions.

And, in a fit of pure craving-based inspiration, I topped it off with fresh plain popcorn. Did you know you can cook plain kernels in a plain paper bag in the microwave? Chuck 1/4 cup or so in, fold the top down a few times so it 'seals' then put it in the microwave for 2 minutes. Done. No oil, no nothing else required. Which is perfect for this dish, because you get all your flavours from the sauce, and it remains a one pot meal. The popcorn is not necessary, but totally worth it.

One Pot Meals - Yummy Chicken with Squash, Quinoa and Popcorn

Yummy Chicken with Squash, Quinoa and Popcorn

2 tbsp rice bran oil
1 brown onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp dried thyme
4 chicken thigh fillets, cut into medium-ish strips
6 yellow squash, large diced (I cut each into 8 bits)
Half a zucchini, large diced
quarter of a cabbage, thinly sliced
2/3 cup cashews, roughly chopped
4 heaped teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup quinoa (I used black, but whatever you've got)
1 1/2 cups more water
parsley, finely chopped for garnish
1 cup popped plain popcorn

Heat the oil in a tagine or deep frypan with a lid. Add the onion and garlic, cook for a few minutes until translucent. Add the thyme and mix through the onion.

Add the chicken to the pan and brown on all sides, a few minutes per side. Add the vegetables and mix through.

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, add mustard, maple syrup, 1/2 cup of water and apple cider vinegar. Shake well to mix completely. Pour into pan. Rinse out with the extra 1 1/2 cups of water, pour into pan.

Add the quinoa and cashews, then mix it all through really well. Put the lid on and allow to cook for 15 minutes or so, until the quinoa is done. Check for seasoning. If it's still a bit liquidy, leave the lid off and reduce it down for a few minutes.

Serve with a sprinkling of parsley and a handful of the plain popcorn.

One Pot Meals - Yummy Chicken with Squash, Quinoa and Popcorn