Tag Archives: marinara

Squashed Spaghetti

I’m down to the home stretch. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Only a few more days in this vegetable desert! But for now, I’m still here, and I’ve gotta eat. So I’m still trying to mix things up a bit. Though at this point, everything is starting to taste the same.

My mouth is watering as I think about what’s coming. My friend, whom I’m walking in this desert with, will be cooking cheesy chicken enchiladas to celebrate the end of our diet. You better believe I will thoroughly enjoy them! I can almost taste their melty gooey cheesy goodness right now! I will, for sure, include a recipe for my own cheesy enchiladas when I make some for myself. As absolutely delicious as they are, they are extremely simple to prepare. You can watch for that.

For now, seeing as how my culinary canon is still in effect, I’m going to attempt to recreate a staple of any family’s dinner menu – spaghetti. “But you can’t have pasta!” you might be screaming right now. And you’re absolutely right. This is why I’ll be utilizing the often overlooked spaghetti squash!

Spaghetti-SquashFor those of you who don’t know what this is, the spaghetti squash is an oddity of nature. When you slice this squash in half and bake it, the flesh of the spaghetti squash comes apart in strands, resembling spaghetti noodles, and it has a slight buttery flavor. It still has the texture of squash, but if you close your eyes and imagine real hard, it’s almost like eating real spaghetti. It’s a great spaghetti substitute for those who are vegans, alergic to gluten, folks on a low carb diet, or even for those looking for a healthy and light alternative to the high-calorie traditional spaghetti.

It’s good with a little butter and Parmesan or Romano cheese, and an Italian meat sauce. Since I can’t partake of any of that, I’ll have to settle for a tasty homemade marinara with mushrooms. And instead of meatballs, I’m cooking up some chopped zucchini and yellow squash. … O meat, how I miss you so!

SpaghettiSquashAs it turns out, this is one of the better meals I’ve prepared during this diet. I think it ranks up there with my quinoa lettuce wraps.

One of the guests at our Monday night group – the event for which I prepared this delicacy – told me that no one has ever convinced her to eat squash before (she’s not a fan apparently). She liked this dish though, which is surprising, seeing as how it’s made up almost entirely of squash. It just Goes to show you that with the right combination of flavors and textures, you can turn anything into a delicious meal! Though she did pick out all the mushrooms (apparently not a fan of those either)…

If you’d like to try your hand at this squashy spaghetti facsimile, you can find the recipe in the recipes section of the blog.

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The Art of Concocting

It’s one thing to be able to cook a great meal from a recipe on the side of a box, or even out of a cookbook, but it’s another thing entirely to whip up something delicious from the things you might have lying around your kitchen. In my opinion, if you desire to become a great cook, being good at the latter is a must. Becoming great in the kitchen requires a level competence in the fine art of concocting.

There are several different areas to pay attention to when learning how to concoct. The first, and most obvious aspect of concocting is paying attention to flavors – which flavors will play well or compliment others and which flavors won’t. But there’s more to it than that, as anyone who’s ever eaten a soggy pizza knows.

An often overlooked aspect of concocting is the issue of texture. Paying attention to the textures of different foods and what they’ll feel like together can sometimes separate a good dish from a great dish. If a concoction has great flavor, but has a boring texture, it loses something.  On the other hand, even a dish with a mediocre flavor  but a really interesting texture, can be a marvelous concoction!

And lastly there is the detail of visual presentation. Paying attention to color and shape – how your creation looks – can help your concoction be mouthwatering even before it meets any tastebuds. If something looks like mud, it’s less likely to be enjoyed to the fullness it may deserve. Even if something has dull flavor and a mediocre texture, if it’s presented well, the anticipation of the one to whom it’s served will play a part how the dished is ultimately perceived. Presentation is often viewed as an unnecessary detail, but it can greatly enhance the experience of any meal.

Nailing any one of these three parts of concoction-design can make for good food, but when all three are working well together, you have the makings of a fantastic meal!

That being said, when concocting, it’s important to realize going into it that what you create might not be your greatest creation ever. In fact, some of your first concoctions may likely be some of the worst things you’ve ever tasted. It’s ok. You’ve just learned what not to do.  Thomas Edison famously said that he never failed to make a working light bulb, he simply first had to figure out all the ways to not make a light bulb. Failing is how we learn.  Don’t get discouraged.  Believe me, I’ve definitely made some meals fit for the garbage can.

ConcoctionThis dish is my latest concoction. It has three distinct components and combines a total of 7 ingredients plus seasonings. I call it, … um … dinner! Ha!

What you’re looking at is sauteed yellow squash with black beans set on a base of coarsely mashed potatoes with sauteed onions, topped with a fresh marinara made from Roma tomatoes, mushrooms, and jalapeno. It’s not the most beautiful (I didn’t have anything to garnish it with), but it is very flavorful. The savory body of the potatoes & onions mixed with the slightly crisp texture of the yellow squash, flavored by the deliciously spicy goodness of the marinara will make your mouth dance for joy! If you’d like to know more about what it is, and even taste it for yourself, you can find the recipe over in the recipes section under Dinner Concoction #1.

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By the way, if you’re unsure of your concocting abilities, stick to recipes for a while. Using recipes is a great way to learn how different foods behave on the stove and in the oven, and how different flavors mix with each other. If you pay attention to details such as these, you’ll be concocting in no time at all!

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