Yellow Squash and Pepper Pasta Sauce

 

This sauce has a lovely aroma and a smooth texture and pairs well with a cheese that isn’t too bold. I used a BellaVitano (balsamic), which is one of my favorite cheeses. I ate it over spaghetti, but I imagine any other pasta would do just as well.

You need:

  1. 1 small yellow squash
  2. 1 medium red onion
  3. 1 orange bell pepper (capsicum)
  4. 1 cup vegetable stock (low-sodium or unsalted)
  5. 2-3 sprigs thyme
  6. salt and crushed red pepper to taste
  7. olive oil for cooking

How to:

  1. De-seed the yellow squash. The easiest way for me is to cut them in half and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Discard the seeds and finely dice the squash.
  2. Remove the sides of the pepper. Cut away the white “ribs” and retain the rest of the sides. Discard the inside and top of the pepper. Dice finely (that means small :))
  3. Finely dice the onion.
  4. Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pan. When the oil is hot, add the onion.
  5. Sweat the onions. This means you cook them slowly over low to medium heat. You can read about sweating vegetables here. Add the other vegetables and stir.
  6. After about 5-7 minutes, turn the heat up and cook over high heat, stirring constantly. Do this for about 3 minutes. Do not let the vegetables brown. If they start to brown, turn the heat down.
  7. Add the vegetable stock, thyme, crushed red pepper, and salt. Stir and cover, turning the heat down to medium.
  8. Let it cook, covered, for about 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften.
  9. When the vegetables are soft, use a potato masher to gently mash some of the vegetables. Stir.
  10. Cook uncovered until the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally.
  11. Serve over spaghetti. Grate cheese over the sauce and garnish with thyme before serving.

Fresh Spaghetti Sauce!

Onions, peppers, and oregano from my CSA + fresh tomatoes from my garden = fresh spaghetti sauce!

I chopped up the onions and peppers, added much chopped fresh garlic, cooked it in olive oil, added fresh chopped oregano, chopped tomatoes, salt, and red chili flakes. Then I  gave it some thyme, love, and tenderness 😛

And ate it over whole wheat spaghetti. Mmmm.

Vegetable Riot Pasta Sauce

Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: about 40-45 minutes

I wanted to make a pasta sauce that had lots of vegetables (and thereby reduce the amount of pasta eaten as well). This turned out very, very well, and we were pleased with it.

You need: 1 yellow squash, diced; 1 bunch green onions, finely chopped; 2 cups tomatoes, diced; 1 bunch any greens you like, finely chopped; 1-2 bell peppers, diced; 1 cup loosely packed cilantro (or parsley, whichever you prefer); 2-3 bay leaves; 1/4 cup red wine vinegar; 2 tbsp minced garlic; and to taste: dill, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, black pepper, red chili flakes or dried red chilies, salt. Yes, I know I add too many herbs, but they taste so good.

How to: I used dried herbs, BTW, but you could use fresh if you have them.

Heat some olive oil in a pan large enough to hold everything. Add the dried red chilies if you are using them, and the bay leaves.

Add the squash, cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Add rosemary and thyme.

Add red peppers, cook 5 minutes, etc. etc.

Add onions, stir, cook for 5 minutes.

Add greens, stir, cover and let it cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add red wine vinegar, stir well, and let it cook uncovered until the vinegar has cooked away. Add garlic.

Stir again, add tomatoes. Stir, cover, let it cook for 5 minutes.

Add remaining herbs and salt. Cover and let it cook till done.

Uncover and let the water cook out, if you like. Add the cilantro just before you take it off the heat, stir, and ladle it over the pasta of your choice. (We had spinach fettuccine).

Baked Brie with Blueberry Chutney

I explored this avenue when I wanted to eat cheese and a sweet chutney, and all I had was Brie and blueberries.

The Brie: cut off the top rind, place it on foil. pull the foil up around the wedge so the cheese doesn’t have too much place to run when it melts. Brush some butter on the top, sprinkle some pecans, walnuts, almonds, set it in a pan and put it in the oven at 350 F for ten minutes.

The chutney: Place one packet of frozen blueberries or the equivalent fresh (no idea how much that is in weight, check the bag), 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1/4 cup finely chopped onion in a pan. Bring to a boil and let it simmer. Here’s the key: don’t add water. I did, and I had to wait for it to reduce. Very dull it was, too.

Plate the cheese and ladle some chutney on top.

In any case, here’s a link to a fancy recipe for blueberry chutney that looks promising.

Strawberry sauce

I saw some recipes online with cornstarch, and I said “no way”. So this was my simple experiment, and the OH and I went over to some friends’ place. We ate it with chocolate chip cookie bars and Greek yogurt, and it was astonishingly good.

1 box strawberries (take off the tops and chop)

1/8 cup sugar (or adjust to how sweet you want it, or substitute with an herbal sweetener)

1/8 cup water

In a pan, bring all the ingredients to boil. Reduce to a simmer. Give it a good stir now and again. Let it thicken.

If you like it chunky (I did) let it cool and bottle it. Or you could puree it and bottle it.

Spaghetti, braised garlic, and bread

Dinner tonight celebrates the end of spring cleaning, and an apartment that is clean, if not entirely neat. There’s two graduate students in the house. We have a lot of paper, and the OH’s filing system involves pile sorts on the floor.
But we’re clean and neat-ish now, so we spent a little time over dinner and didn’t give in to the Ramen demon (who is a good friend and visits frequently).

Spaghetti sauce for vegetarians (and vegans):
I’m not a big fan of thick gooey spaghetti sauces, or cheesy ones, so I like this sauce a lot. It’s light, spicy, and full of flavorful vegetables.

Ingredients: One large onion, a few cloves of garlic (as much as you like), tomatoes (at least one large one), crushed red pepper, one large bell pepper (use green or yellow for added color), salt to taste, lots of Italian seasoning, one bay leaf, two dried red chilies, oil, preferably olive.

How to: Chop the onions, tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic as small as you are willing to make the effort to go.
Heat some oil in a pan. Add the bay leaf and dried red chilies. Wait a couple minutes, give them a quick stir, and add the onions. Stir and cook till golden but not brown. Add the pepper. Cook, stir now and again, till you smell the peppers. Cook about four more minutes, then add the garlic and tomatoes. Add the crushed red peppers (as much as you can stand). Add the Italian seasoning. You could use fresh herbs, and if you can get them, I highly recommend it. Much better flavor.
(Put your pasta on to boil now, follow instructions on the packet).

Add salt, stir everything, add some water if needed, and let it all simmer at least ten minutes, half an hour if you can. Keep checking to make sure it’s not burning. If it’s getting too dry, add some water. I tend to have it slightly liquidy, but you can let it dry a bit, if you like.

Drain the pasta, add the sauce, and you’re good to go. I don’t like cheese on my pasta, but that’s your call.

Braised garlic
I got this recipe from the NYT; here’s the link. What I did was to reduce the amount of garlic, since there are only two of us eating.

My version is small-scale. Heat some olive oil (about 1/4 cup or less), add about 20 cloves of peeled garlic, keep the heat on medium-to-low, let the garlic sizzle, sprinkle salt over it, keep turning, take off the heat when browned and tender. Store in the fridge, oil and all. Be careful not to let it burn when you are cooking it. Looks good, doesn’t it? We like to mush it up a bit and eat it over bread. Speaking of which, the OH has baked another one of his marvelous loaves tonight, so dinner is quite a feast. Spaghetti, braised garlic, and fresh-baked sourdough bread.

Bread

What was it about a jug of wine, a loaf of bread,
and someone who can bake the best damn bread in the world?