Monthly Archives: April 2013

Spaghetti Squash “Spaghetti” with Spicy Sweet Potato Bean Balls

Step aside spaghetti - Spaghetti squash has come to town!

Step aside spaghetti – Spaghetti squash has come to town!

Spaghetti squash is the one type of winter squash I normally avoid. I always had issues with spaghetti growing up. Somehow, I always managed to get more sauce on my face and my immediate surroundings (the counter, wall, floor …) than in my belly. Pre-cutting, fork and spoon technique, or Lady and the Tramp style – it didn’t matter. And thus I avoided stringy foods, including spaghetti squash. But when you live on a budget and like to expand your culinary horizons, the spaghetti squash beacons. Always one to rise to a challenge and craving something spring-ier than my standard curry, I decided to give it a go. The result was less of a recipe and more of a stream of consciousness, coupled with copious amounts of time staring into my pantry.

The “Method”:

I first cut the squash in half lengthwise. Unlike other squashes, Spaghetti squash is directional, so this resulted in much shorter spaghetti ‘strands’. I was okay with this, but if you don’t have the same spaghetti eating issues that I do, cutting the squash in half width-wise may be advisable. I then stabbed poked the surface with a fork a couple of times, and placed face down on a cookie sheet to roast at 375dF for 45min. While that was going, I made Spicy Sweet Potato Bean Balls, based on my Burger recipe. Instead of a grain, I used the same amount in mashed sweet potato. Genius! With 10min to go on the squash, I quickly whipped up a spicy tomato sauce made of 2c. diced tomatoes, 2 jalapenos, 1/2t. ground cumin, and 1t. minced garlic. Let the squash rest when you take it out of the oven so you don’t burn your fingers. Flip it over, and scrape the inside with a fork to make your lovely spaghetti. Top the spaghetti with your tomato sauce and a bean ball or two, and volia! Dinner in 45min or so.

The result is absolutely delicious. Spaghetti squash “pasta” is my new favourite type of pasta. The burger recipe made stand out bean balls, and the sweet potato was a nice change from the rice/quinoa formula. The latin tomato sauce added some flavour, but leftovers were devoured without the sauce. Straight-up diced tomatoes were amazing too! For a complete vegetable feast, serve on top of a bed of greens. This is just one suggestion – clearly adapt to your cravings! A sauce of your favourite cheese sauce would be delicious. Or hummus inspired topped with sliced nuts. Or just straight up with some fresh herbs. Let your pantry speak to you!

Now who said that comfort food can’t be healthy?


Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry

Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry
This particular version highlights eggplant, asparagus, bell pepper, and spinach

Rarely a week goes by without a simmering pot of curry. This is my stand-by no-fail recipe, with infinite possibilities of vegetables, protein, and spicy level. The basic components are: tomato based curry sauce, meaty eggplant simmered in the sauce, greens for the eggplant to rest between, and a wide assortment of vegetables – whatever you have on hand that day and/or need to use before they go bad. The veggie selection is easily changed to reflect the season/mood. Sick and tired of cauliflower and squash in March? Then throw in some greenery, peppers, and cute cherry tomatoes. Super stoked that it’s squash season in September? Butternut squash, spinach, peppers, and eggplant is a combination that cannot be beat! If you like, you can throw in your choice of protein – lentils, chickpeas, tofu, or tempeh have all been winners in the past. Spice level can be adjusted to taste preference, and the recipe is easily scaled back or quadrupled depending on how many mouths you are feeding that day. This is my Indian “chili”. Always delicious, always a winner.

The recipe is more of a guideline, developed over the years by throwing things in the pot and trying to remember what tasted the best. Take these guidelines and make them your own – tweak as you like, and enjoy your efforts!

Never Fail Tomato Eggplant Curry

2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2” piece fresh ginger, minced
2 jalapeños, seeded and diced (if you like the spice, don’t seed the peppers!)
3 tsp. curry powder
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt, to taste
4 cups of your ‘meaty’ veggies: eggplant, squash, potato, etc.
4 cups diced tomatoes, or 1 (28oz.) canned tomatoes (Note: Whole canned tomatoes are also nice – rip them apart with your hands when you add them to the curry)
4 cups water
2 cup of your ‘crunch’ veggies: asparagus, bell pepper, snap peas, green beans, …
~10 cups fresh greens: spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, or kale
Cayenne pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) In large pot, heat olive oil and add mustard seeds. Sauté until seeds start to pop – cover pot with a lid to prevent seeds from escaping!
2) Add onion. Sauté until translucent and beginning to brown, ~7min. If pan looks dry, add a splash of water.
3) Add garlic, ginger, and jalapeño. Sauté ~1min.
4) Add the spices. Stir to coat and lightly toast.
5) Add the ‘meaty’ veggies. Stir to coat with spices and lightly sear.
6) Add the tomatoes, water, and ‘crunch’ veggies. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower heat and partially cover, simmering ~5min.
7) Add the greens in handfuls, stirring as you go. Cook until greens are bright green and wilted. (If you are adding cherry tomatoes, add them at this point).
8) Turn off heat, and add cayenne pepper. Adjust all other seasonings to taste.
9) Serve hot with rice, and/or your favourite Indian flat bread.


Burmese Tofu

Burmese tofu is traditionally soy-free, and uses besan (chickpea flour) instead of soy beans. Intrigued, I decided to try it out. With limited recipes to try out, all will different ratios of the same ingredients, I decided to add to the mix another recipe. With just three ingredients you can make your own tofu that is eons better than the purchased soft soy tofu. Once it has set in the fridge, you can use it just as you would any other tofu product. For the first batch, half went to a chocolate mousse recipe that turned out to be like chocolate halva, and the second half was sliced and baked in the oven along with the roasting squash de jour. Both uses were utterly fantastic, and since I have made three more batches of tofu. I don’t know how the same ingredients as for socca can turn out so different, but it’s magical what happens when you whisk the mixture! Impress yourself, impress your friends, and whip up your own tofu!

Burmese Tofu

1½ cup besan (chickpea flour) (Note: Other bean flours may work too!)
4 cups water
pinch of salt

Directions:
1) Grease a 9×13” pan. Set aside
2) In heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk together chickpea flour and salt.
3) Slowly add water, whisking continuously to ensure no lumps.
4) Turn burner onto medium-high heat. Whisk continuously until mixture thickens, approx. 7-8min. Mixture should be the consistency of thick pudding.
5) Pour into greased 9×13” pan. Smooth top, and let cool. (Note: Other size pans would be neat! You can shape your tofu to whatever you want!)
6) Chill in fridge for 30min-12h. The longer it chills, the firmer it gets.
7) Cut into slices and use!

Options: use as a soft tofu, in baked goods, in mousse, slice and bake for tofu strips … when used in mousse acts just like silken tofu. To make your own tofu strips, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place tofu strips on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with seasonings (optional), and bake at 375oF for 20-30min. Remove from oven and enjoy! The outer layer will be crisp and the inside is gloriously creamy. I freeze them for portable snack options.

Step-by-Step Pictures:

                     

1) Whisk together all ingredients

Burmese Tofu1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Continuously whisk on medium-high until reaches consistency of thick pudding (Note the whisk tracks!)

Burmese Tofu2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) Pour into 9″x13″ pan and smooth. Let set.

Burmese Tofu - Set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baked Burmese Tofu Sticks, with a sprinkle of black pepper. Yum!

Burmese Tofu Sticks


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