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Archive for the category “squash”

Japanese Eggplant Tomato Salad

The summer heat has made itself at home in Maryland, for now. I was hopeful that the triple digit temperatures had moved on earlier this week, since the highs dropped into the 80s, but alas, it was not so. They shot right back up. I know it is August, but a girl can hope! I am very much an Autumn/Winter kind of girl – wearing sweaters and pretty scarves, taking brisk walks to get the blood flowing without sweat raining off my brow. Cooler weather will come eventually – it always does – so for now I will trudge on in the heat and make some summer salads. I found some Japanese eggplant at the store this week and grabbed a few. The are longer and more narrow than the typical eggplant, and in my opinion sweeter and more tender. Maybe I need to work with it more, but the short, fat eggplant tends to be tough and lacking flavor when I have prepared it in the past. The Japanese eggplant is more appealing, but also more elusive. I wanted a cold side dish to accompany some spicy tacos for dinner, and this is what I came up with, adapted from the recipe here.

Japanese Eggplant Salad

¼ cup white vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes, crushed
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/8 cup olive oil
2 Japanese eggplants
1 large tomato

Cut off ends of eggplants, cut each lengthwise into six pieces, then cross cut into cubes. Sprinkle cubes lightly with salt and let sit for about ten minutes. While waiting for the eggplant make the dressing. Combine the first five ingredients and whisk together until combined. Slowly add oil while you continue whisking until it is all added. Set aside the dressing. Heat dry skillet over medium high heat. Add eggplant and about one Tablespoon of dressing, then saute until tender, about five minutes. Transfer cubes to paper towel and let cool to room temperature, or chill until ready to serve. Cut tomatoes in half and scoop out seeds, leaving as much flesh as possible, then cube the tomatoes so they are about the same size as the cooked eggplant pieces. Combine the tomato and eggplant cubes. Drizzle with dressing and toss lightly to coat. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

Baked Zucchini Wedges

I did it! I finally did it! I made a zucchini dish that Big D declared as the best he has ever had. This is a BIG deal. I love zucchini, but Big D does not. As usual, if I cover something with garlic and cheese there is a high possibility of culinary success around here. Besides being absolutely delicious (hot or cold, we discovered) they were a great balance for the spicy meat Big D cooked up to go along with the zucchini – he has promised to guest blog about it soon (nudge nudge). I don’t know if this bread crumb-less version will work with anything other than the powdery Parmesan cheese typically found in shaker-type containers, but I do know the powdery stuff did a great job of sticking, with the help of some egg.

Baked Zucchini Wedges

2 large zucchini
2 cups finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 Tbsp water

Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Slice zucchini in half, then lengthwise into narrow wedges – at least 20 slices per squash. Make available a large non-stick cookie sheet to receive the prepared slices. Mix together eggs and water, making sure they are well combined. Pour into a shallow bowl or deep plate. In another bowl/plate combine cheese, garlic and salt. Dip each slice into the egg mixture, followed by dipping in the cheese mixture. If they will stand on their skin edge, then set them on the sheet skin side down. If they only stand on a wide, white edge, they will be fine, but will cook brown on the side touching the pan. Bake for about 30 minutes until coating on top starts browning. Serve immediately.

Roasted Squash Seeds

Every time we cook up a spaghetti squash we discard the sinew and seeds. The seeds remind me of pumpkins and fall and cooler weather. They are the same shape, size and color as pumpkin seeds, so why not treat them the same? Since it was about 100 degrees today and I would give anything for cooler weather, it made a bit of sense to roast up the squash seeds as a reminder of cooler times past and future. This recipe, although including cinnamon and stevia, is rather savory and did the trick as far as cooling me off. Little B and Big D loved them too. The seeds ended up being a healthy snack that I plan on repeating any time our menu involves seeds and a waiting cookie sheet.

Roasted Squash Seeds

1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp chili powder
2 packets Stevia in the Raw
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 – 2 cups spaghetti squash seeds

Preheat oven to 250 Fahrenheit. Separate seeds from sinew and set out to dry on a tray for at least half an hour. Don’t worry about rinsing them – any squash left on the seeds helps to enhance the flavor. In a small bowl combine spices and sweetener, then add the oil. Add seeds and toss until coated. Spread seeds on a cookie sheet, making sure they are spread out as much as possible. Toast for about 30 minutes, until dried out and crispy. Remove from oven and let cool. If not all eaten immediately store in airtight container until somebody decides it is wrong to let them alone and inhales what is left.

Squash Pizza

We love pizza and we love squash, especially spaghetti squash. It is not processed like store bought pasta or the flour used in most pizza crusts. Don’t get me wrong – I love pasta and pizza crust and pretty much any bread I encounter, but it never seems to leave after I eat it. I might as well just glue it on to my hips and butt instead of biting into it, because that seems to be where it goes. Not so with spaghetti squash. It is pretty darned good for you, as I have mentioned before, and is a great way to take care of those pizza cravings, because the wheaty crust of the traditional pizza is just not gonna work with our diet strategy. We have officially thrown up our hands and now make a casserole version of pizza. Yes you need a fork to eat it, but is it really a great loss? Not when it helps me keep my weight down. I am not saying this recipe will help you lose weight, but if you are watching your carbohydrate intake like me, there is nothing better for battling pizza advertisements. The squash does a wonderful job of helping the herbs mix and spread their joy, and thick sliced pepperoni is just heaven to me on a pizza. Omigosh is it good!

Squash Pizza

1 spaghetti squash
8-12 ounces pepperoni, sliced thick
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups Italian mix cheese (romano, mozzarella, parmesan…)
2 cups roughly chopped mushrooms (or 8 ounces canned mushrooms)
2 Tbsp dried parsley
2 Tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp garlic powder
2-3 tsp sea salt
2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp black pepper

Slice squash in half lengthwise and scrape out seeds and sinew. In a microwave safe dish place halves open side down and add about ½ cup water. Cook on high for 10-12 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. While the squash cools prepare the rest of the dish – start with slicing pepperoni and roughly chopping mushrooms. When squash is cooled scrape out the ‘spaghetti’ with a fork into a bowl. Add mushrooms to the squash along with half of the herbs, salt and pepper and mix well. In a medium to large rectangular baking dish (no larger than 9×13) sprinkle about ½ cup of the cheddar cheese. Add the squash mixture. Take a mix of the cheese, about a cup, and spread on top of the squash mixture, pushing it into the squash a bit. Add the rest of the herbs and spices. Make a layer of the pepperoni, then top with the remaining cheese. Place in preheated oven and cook for 30-35 minutes, until cheese is melted and there is some browning. Let stand outside the oven for about ten minutes before serving. Slice like a casserole and serve with a simple garden salad.

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