Spaghetti Squash – a preview of fall

Squash is a favorite of mine, zucchini, yellow, and spaghetti routinely make their way into my kitchen.  Spaghetti squash is a fall favorite.  I usually serve the “noodles” from the squash with marinara or spaghetti sauce and, on occasion, I whip up a cream sauce and make an alfredo type of squash with cream, garlic, and Parmesan cheese.

Recently, I began looking for new recipes.  I wanted something different and new from my standard dinners.  I eat a lot of chicken, so I began to experiment with the concept of chicken and squash.  I ended up with this variation on chicken and spaghetti squash.

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Two chicken breasts diced in bite sized pieces

Half an onion diced

One carrot shredded

One medium tomato diced

One bell pepper diced

Fresh basil chopped

Parmesan cheese to taste

tomato pesto sauce, half a cup

Small spaghetti squash

Olive oil, salt and pepper, and Italian seasoning all to taste.

Cut the spaghetti squash in half, length wise.  Sprinkle olive oil, salt, and pepper over each half.  Place the halves open side down in a baking or oven proof dish and cook at 350 for thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, remove and permit to cool.  Once cool, remove seeds with a grapefruit spoon then, still using the grapefruit spoon, remove the squash in long noodle like strings to a bowl.

Next, in a skillet, add more olive oil, onion, chicken, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and shredded carrot.  Sauté until chicken is almost done.  Toss in the tomato and bell pepper and sauté another three minutes.  Next add in the Parmesan cheese and spaghetti squash.  Remove entire mixture to a baking dish and place in the oven on 350 for thirty minutes.

Enjoy!

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The Farmers Market and Stuffed Squash

 

 

I love a good farmers market and am fortunate to have several near me. My favorite is the Nelson County Farmers Market. Open from April through October and involving a short drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, it never disappoints. The trick is to get there early and score a delicious chocolate croissant or blueberry muffin. The pastries are mouthwatering and range from muffins to pies, cookies, and artisanal breads. Locally raised meats, cheeses, vinegars, and vegetables round out the offerings. Produce is seasonal. In the fall squash, apples and pumpkins are plentiful. In the summer, berries, melons, tomatoes, and greens stock the stalls. My greatest challenge is to exercise self control over selecting the delicacies I have time to cook over the upcoming week.  I often fall into the trap of my eyes being bigger than my appetite and time in a busy schedule.

On my most recent visit, I found blueberries for a snack, onions, kale, spring onions, and squash. Oh, and I scored my blueberry muffin! I was too late for the chocolate croissant.  The larger squash I decided to serve as stuffed squash for dinner that night.

There are so many good reasons to shop your local farmer’s market.  Fresh, locally grown produce and supporting the local business community are two, but my favorite reason is social. I always run into someone I’ve not seen for a time and get the opportunity catch up with a brief, or not so brief, visit.

Stuffed squash

 

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This recipe may serve as the main entree or a side dish. At cook’s choice, you may include, or not, genoa salami, applewood smoked bacon, or prosciutto ham.  When I add meat I use this as the main entree rather than a side dish.

Ingredients:

large zucchini or yellow squash sliced in half length wise;
tomatoes diced;
onion diced;
pecorino romano cheese;
salt, black pepper, basil, and oregano to taste;
panko breadcrumbs (Italian preferably); and
olive oil.

Scoop out the center of the squash and place in a bowl. I use a grapefruit spoon to do this. Make certain this is broken up.  For larger chunks you may want to dice with a knife.  In the bowl add the diced tomatoes, diced onion, cheese, breadcrumbs, salt pepper, basil, and oregano. Mix thoroughly and stuff back into the squash shell. Drizzle the now stuffed squash shells with olive oil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. If you wish to add salami, ham, or bacon, cook, drain, and crumble into the bowl to be mixed in with the rest of the ingredients.

For me, this receipe gets added points for being both tasty and healthy.