How to cook spaghetti squash

There are quite a few cooking suggestions for spaghetti squash. Everyone has their way. I’ve heard microwave, pressure cooker, sliced in rings, skin side up, skin side down, in a pot of water. I’m sure these work, but, call me old-fashioned, I don’t have a pressure cooker and after living without a microwave for a decade I rarely use mine now.

I’ve had unparalleled success slicing the big squash down the middle and cooking it cut-side down. It’s minimal effort, easy clean up, and any extra moisture ends up on the pan instead of in the squash.

Eat your spaghetti strands right out of the built-in bowl or take a tip from my eating suggestions. I’m still finding ways to prepare it. What are your favorites?

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EATING SUGGESTIONS

  • Sprinkle with chili, cumin, and lime for a taco bowl

  • Drizzle toasted sesame oil and add scallions for an Asian-flavored side

  • Toss with olive oil, basil, parmesan cheese, and pine nuts


HOW TO

  1. Preheat oven to 400°

  2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment

  3. Cut off the top end with the stem and bottom end of the spaghetti squash to create a flat surface

  4. Stand the squash on one flat end upright and carefully slice from top to bottom the long way to get two flatter halves

  5. Remove the seeds with a large spoon; I recommend saving them in a bowl to roast

  6. Rub the inside flesh of the squash with a just bit of olive oil, you really only need a light coating

  7. Sprinkle salt and pepper on oiled interior

  8. Place face-down on the prepared baking sheet so the skin is facing up

  9. Bake for ~40-60 minutes until you can easily poke through the whole squash with a fork

  10. Once cool enough to handle you can comb through the skin with a fork to create spaghetti strands or save for later as is in a covered container stored in the fridge

The ultimate guide to roasting vegetables

Roasting season is here!

I’m convinced roasting is one of the best things you can do in the kitchen. It’s easy, clean up is minimal, food lasts forever (and it actually revives veggies that have seen better days), and it makes anything taste fancy and delicious.

I love batch cooking a ton to use throughout the week. Roasted veggies are special additions to salads and also make a special simple side. Cook a lot when you do! In my house the roasted veggies go quickly - I’m sure you’ll devour yours faster than you expect.

I'm sharing tips that will help you nail roasting every time, but first, let’s address two important questions:

How long do I roast?

Until the veggies feel, look, taste the way you like.

At what temperature?

The higher the temperature, the more browning you can expect. With a lower temperature, you’ll be looking at a more uniform end product in terms of color and texture.

That being said, I usually put the oven anywhere from 375°-450°. Cooking times vary with size and vegetable type.

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Now onto the goods. The only 5 things you need to know to nail roasting every time

5 roasting rules

Cut vegetables  in equal sizes

  • So the food cooks evenly and is ready at the same time

  • This applies even to cooking even different types of vegetables at the same time or on the same pan


Evenly coat vegetables in oil and seasonings

  • Oil encourages browning, plus, you want the taste to be well balanced across every bite

Arrange vegetables in a single layer

  • So every piece browns and cooks evenly

  • Food that isn’t touching the pan won’t brown


Give them room to breathe

  • Crowded vegetables end up steaming instead of roasting

  • Make sure your pan isn’t too small and spread pieces our in a single layer with room between


Don’t flip too soon

  • Let the side that’s down brown before you flip, that crisp side is what roasting is all about!

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Lunch ideas for work

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If you’re like me, packing lunch for the workday is an afterthought at best. The problem is, I’m not a fan of spending the time, calories, or money eating out. After countless sad desk lunches, wasted dollars, and unsatisfying meals, I finally have it down. I’ve created a list of food items and tools to keep at work to make even the transform even the most haphazard effort into a filling, nutritious, and tasty meal.

The list below won’t be quite as helpful as your home pantry, but it will provide a nice foundation to supplement any incomplete meal you pick up or bring from home. For me, these are most often: leftovers, undressed salad greens, raw veggies, yogurt, an apple, an avocado, hummus. The items below help transform these bases into something substantial.

Keep these foods by your desk

  • Oatmeal (such as Nature’s Path and Purely Elizabeth)

  • Nuts

  • Nut butter

  • Chia seeds

  • Individual tuna packed in olive oil

  • Mustard packets (for impromptu dressings)

  • Small bottle of olive oil

Keep these foods in the fridge if you have access to one

  • Individual cheese serving (cheese stick, babybel, mozzarella balls)

  • Yogurt of choice

  • Boiled egg

  • Salad dressing

Helpful tools to have handy

  • Bowl

  • Spoon, fork, knife

  • Good sharp knife

  • Plate

  • Napkins

With these office items always available, you can easily grab just one or two fresh items from home, a cafeteria, or a small grocery store to create some semblance of a meal. Ideally, a balanced meal includes up to 2 cups of veggies (or a serving of fruit for breakfast) and a source of protein and healthy fats.

Lunch ideas

  • Salad greens and tuna with some nuts

  • Crudite with a hummus pack, crackers, a boiled egg, and piece of cheese

  • Leftovers with a hardboiled egg

  • Yogurt with fresh fruit, chia seeds, and nuts

Breakfast ideas

  • Oatmeal with peanut butter and chia seeds

  • Yogurt with nuts, chia, seeds, and fruit

  • Apple with peanut butter and a cheese stick

  • Egg and avocado

Easy sheetpan dinner with eggplant, shrimp, and harissa

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Nothing beats the ease of a sheetpan dinner. They’re quick, easy, require very little hands-on time, and usually only few dishes.

This one from Melissa Clark’s cookbook Dinner has become a favorite in my house. All of the above are true, but it checks two other significant boxes: it is also remarkably flavorful and, once we have an eggplant, calls for ingredients that live in our freezer and pantry.

The flavor comes from harissa, a North African pepper sauce. If you haven’t had harissa, you’re in for a treat. It’s really special, a one-stop step to deliciousness. Now I know you’re thinking “eh, I’m not too excited about adding one more kind of expensive thing that I will use once to my pantry. Harissa isn’t one of those things. It’s an instant upgrade and I use it ALL the time. Add it to shakshuka, chickpeas and chicken in this one-pot wonder, or to flavor 20-minute lettuce cups. These are some of my weeknight staples because they’re easy, ready in no time, and don’t compromise on flavor.

A few notes on other ingredients:

  • If you don’t have cumin, buy it. I promise this won’t be another un-used spice vying for precious kitchen space.

  • If you don’t have cumin seeds, don’t sweat it. They’re tasty, but a total bonus. The dish won’t miss them.

  • Yep, this recipe calls for shrimp. No, I didn’t go out and buy it. Frozen shrimp (uncooked, shell off) is a steal and a weeknight wonder. It defrosts in under 10 minutes, so it’s a dream for last minute meals.

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Roasted eggplant and Shrimp with Harissa

from Melissa Clark’s Dinner: Changing the Game

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large eggplant, cut into 1-inch chunks


  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil


  • 2 tablespoons harissa


  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin


  • 2 teaspoons salt


  • 12 ounces shrimp, shelled


  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds


  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest


  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
 (store bought or from 1 lemon)

  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint


TooLs

  • 2 sheet pans/baking sheets, 1 large, 1 smaller

  • mixing bowl

  • knife

  • measuring spoons

  • citrus zester and juicer (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the 1/3 cup olive oil, harissa, cumin, and 1 teaspoon salt.

  3. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the eggplant to the baking sheet, drizzle with the harissa mixture, and toss to coat. Spread the eggplant in a single layer.

    *note: when I’m extra lazy I skip the small bowl and mix the oil, harissa, cumin, and salt directly on the baking sheet with the eggplant

  4. Roast eggplant for 20 minutes.

  5. While the eggplant is roasting, in a large bowl, combine the shrimp, 1 1/2 tablespoons oil, cumin seeds, lemon zest, remaining salt, and pepper.

    *note: If you don’t have lemon or cumin seeds, don’t worry. This will still be delicious. You can also sub a few squirts of lemon juice for the zest.

  6. Spread the shrimp on a smaller baking sheet lined with parchment.

  7. After the eggplant has been in for 20 minutes, raise the oven temperature to 425 degrees F and add the shrimp to the oven.

  8. Leave both trays in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes. The shrimp are done when they are a little white in color and they've formed a C shape. The eggplant is done when it is browned and soft. It may need a few extra minutes.

  9. Combine the shrimp and eggplant and top with lemon juice and mint.





5-ingredient cherry tomato and garlic pasta recipe

I’m making a case for pasta. It just might be the best thing a busy home cook could ask for.
As a refined carb, it definitely has a bad reputation. But it actually has a lot going for it.

Pasta is:

  • Satisfying

  • Versatile

  • Cheap

  • Always in your pantry staple

  • Quick and easy to prepare

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My husband came home the other night with a dozen lobsters. For two of us. That’s six lobsters each! Even after we recruited my brother to help us eat them, we still had a load of leftovers. It was an entire village of lobster after all! My cooking juju has been off, so when he suggested pasta, I was game, happy to not have to plan something more complicated.

And that, my friends, is when the magic happened: I cemented the 5-ingredient formula that dreams are made of.

It looked fancy, it tasted fancy, and it was one of the easier things I’ve done in a while. My husband was so impressed that he took a picture to send his family. Give it a try and please let me know if you love it as much as I do.

One of the reasons I’m in love with this recipe is that it is beyond delicious on its own – totally fresh and satisfying. But it’s also endlessly adaptable: eat as is or add fancy lobster, frozen shrimp, leftover chicken, sausage, or some extra veggies with the tomatoes. I made it weeks ago with summer corn off the cob and we loved it just as much.

Ingredients for two

  • ~1/2 lb pasta of choice

  • Olive oil

  • 3 cloves of garlic minced

  • Red pepper flakes to taste

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes halved

  • Salt, pepper

  • Basil

How to:
- Set a large pot of water to boil
- In a large pan heat a glug of olive oil over medium low; add 3 cloves of minced garlic and red pepper flakes
- After a few minutes once the garlic is almost browning turn heat to medium and add sliced grape tomatoes

** If you have any additions like lobster, corn, or other veggie or protein add it to the skillet after a few minutes
- Add salt and pasta to the boiling water
- When pasta is al dente and tomatoes are saucy after ~7-10 minutes, transfer pasta to tomato skillet using a slotted spoon or tongs
- Toss until pasta is coated
- Top with basil, julienned or whole and ENJOY

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