Chicken Sausage & Squash Rigatoni

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I don’t usually cook with sausage. In fact, I can only think of one other time I wrote about using this ingredient. But tonight, when I was racking my brain trying to come up with something to eat for dinner, I had a flash to a delicious meal I enjoyed recently at Flour + Water in San Francisco with Maris and Jessi, specifically my favorite dish of the evening: homemade penne pasta with rabbit sausage.

Tonight’s dinner wasn’t nearly as fancy (I did work today, after all), but it was good and very filling with the slightly kicky sausage and sweet Delicata squash. The dish consisted of rigatoni, Italian chicken sausage, winter squash, spinach, lots of garlic, and a little bit of saffron.

I know what you must be thinking: Saffron? What?

I actually bought a small bag of this pricey spice a while ago but completely forgot about it until I returned home from BlogHer Food with a tiny container of it in one of the gift bags.

Saffron is the most expensive spice by price and adds a yellowish/orangish hue to whatever dish it’s used. I can’t really describe the flavor other than call it a bit floral, but know that a little goes a long way. The most well-known uses are in Risotto Milanese and Paella Valenciana. In today’s pasta dish, the saffron flavor is subtle but nicely accents the other strong flavors. You can omit the saffron if you’d like, but it’s a nice way to use it if you happen to have it on hand.

Here’s the recipe for Chicken Sausage & Squash Rigatoni:

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Turning Over a New (Fall) Leaf: Quinoa with Squash & Chard

I have a horrible secret. Something almost too awful admit. Something I’m truly ashamed of.

Are you ready to hear this?

(Deep breath) Here goes: I’ve been letting good food go bad. And what’s worse, I’ve been doing it all summer long.

You see, as the weekends roll around and I relax, I have visions of beautiful fresh produce from the farmers’ market and all the mouthwatering dishes I’m going to make. So, with perfectly pure intentions, I grab my canvas tote bag and head over to the local farmers’ market.

While there I oooh and ahhh over the bountiful produce, savor perfectly sweet fruit samples, chat with farmers, drool over the baked goods I don’t dare to buy, purchase produce I can’t resist, and finally end at a catering tent where I convince the chef to make me the freshest and most delicious egg, veggie and ground lamb focaccia sandwich without cheese.

And then I go home, eat my sandwich, and put the fruits, vegetables and herbs away. I usually spend the rest of the weekend running errands, relaxing, and going to dinner with friends and family. Maybe I cook one dish, but it’s okay I think, I’m going to use the produce during the week.

I’m guessing you know what happens next. I make one dish Monday night when I’m still pretty energized, then Tuesday I have a meeting, and Wednesday I meet a friend for dinner, Thursday I eat Monday’s leftovers, and by Friday I’m so exhausted I order Thai food (a rough schedule, but you get the point). Next thing you know, it’s Saturday, I’m back at the market and I’ve let a whole week’s worth of produce go bad. It’s a vicious cycle, and one I’m ashamed of.

Last week was even worse because I was in San Francisco for BlogHer Food (which was SO great, more on that to come soon). When I got home I immediately noticed the week-old vegetables in the fridge starting to look a little sad, although definitely still edible.

This week, I promised myself, things were going to change. And they did.

I rescued the portobello mushrooms, Delicata squash (such a hearty vegetable it wasn’t any worse for the wear), leek and a bunch of on-the-verge rainbow chard, and used them to make a delicious and very nutritious quinoa dish. (And you know how I feel about quinoa, right? Love it!)

This quinoa dish was wonderful and it tasted like fall, really. Plus, it made so much I was able to eat it throughout the week. And the best part? No wasted-food guilt.

Friends, I think this is the start of a new era!

Here’s the recipe for This Feels Like Fall Quinoa:

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Spiced Shrimp & Spaghetti Squash

Spiced Shrimp & Spaghetti Squash

Spiced Shrimp & Spaghetti Squash

After a long weekend lounging in Florida and eating two desserts a day (hey – it was my birthday weekend, I was entitled!), I felt like I needed a break from the calorie-overload and made myself a healthy, flavorful, two-for-the-price-and-effort-of-one dinner: Spiced Shrimp and Spaghetti Squash.

This super-easy worknight meal that comes together in about 35 minutes was exactly what I needed to get my eating back on track without any feelings of deprivation. It was sweet, spicy, and incredibly flavorful. Plus, it contained a lot of healthy vegetables and protein-rich shrimp.

The most time-consuming part of the dish was caramelizing the onions, which were done using the technique I learned from this recipe for Caramelized Onion & Herb Dinner Rolls. But organization and planning save a lot of time, meaning you do most of the other work while the onions cook: prepare the spice rub for the shrimp, let it marinate, prepare and cook the spaghetti squash, and then finally saute the shrimp in the same pan the onions were cooked in.

Busy week? It’s the perfect opportunity to try this for yourself. Here’s the recipe:

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Brussels Sprouts & Squash Barley with Rosemary Turkey Meatballs

Brussels Sprouts and Squash Barley with Rosemary Turkey Meatballs

Brussels Sprouts and Squash Barley with Rosemary Turkey Meatballs

Food cravings can be unpredictable, but for me they’re a way of life. Often the cravings are for something understandable like chocolate, a salty snack, or even fruit. But for some odd reason this evening I craved barley. There was something about the nutty chewiness of this nutritious grain that I needed.

So, I decided to do a bit of experimenting to see if I could make a full meal based on barley. And… I did. And… it rocked!

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The result was sort of a pilaf of barley with oven-roasted Brussels sprouts and winter squash. And then, from the suggestion of @LDGourmet on Twitter, I topped the whole thing with rosemary turkey meatballs to make for a complete and filling meal.

Brussels Sprouts and Squash Barley with Rosemary Turkey Meatballs

Brussels Sprouts and Squash Barley with Rosemary Turkey Meatballs

Here’s the recipe:

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Kabocha Squash Stuffed with Caramelized Onions, Spinach & Mushrooms

Stuffed Kabocha

Stuffed Kabocha

I’m kicking myself. Yes, you read that right. I am sitting here on the couch kicking myself for being dumb.

Well, I would be if I hadn’t quit yoga a few months ago and could actually move my leg that way. But rest assured, mentally I’m kicking myself.

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Why you ask? It’s because more than a year ago¬† – precisely 1 years and 28 days – one of my favorite food writers posted a recipe on her blog that I’ve been unable to get out of my mind. This entire time I’ve thought about the recipe but never actually got around to making it until this weekend. And it was incredible!

Last fall Dorie Greenspan wrote what she called a “recipe in progress” for pumpkin packed with bread and cheese. It looked great, all gooey and oozy and warm and hearty. But she called it a recipe in progress because it was really about applying the concept of stuffing a hallowed pumpkin or gourd with countless combinations of ingredients.

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While Dorie’s recipe used cheese and cream, my lactose intolerant self decided to limit the dairy to just a small amount of cheese. In its place I added a bunch of sauteed vegetables to the filling for a well-rounded main course or all-in-one side dish.

Instead of a pumpkin I used kabocha, also known as Japanese pumpkin. It has a flavor similar to pumpkin but the flesh is a bit drier, which works well in this preparation, and has a green skin that is beautiful in contrast with the vivid orange interior.

Oh, and did I mention this stuffed squash is incredibly healthy? Kabocha is rich in beta carotene, iron, Vitamin C and potassium, and vegetables like spinach and mushrooms add calcium and other nutrients.

Kabocha

Here’s my take on a recipe in progress: Read more of this >>

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