Spaghetti Squash Risotto with Sage Pesto

This is a little ditty I whipped up last night after noticing our fridge had only some onions, sad carrots, and a spaghetti squash. I typically use spaghetti squash in pasta or in salads, but thought it might be nice in a risotto. Of course, you could sub in any other kind of roasted squash.

Stirring pesto into a vegan risotto is nice, because it adds in the fattiness (and some protein!) you might otherwise miss with no cheese or butter.

It’s vegan and allergy-friendly, but your partner or friends can stir in some butter or cheese if they’d like at the table to make it extra unctuous. I had Garriy roast the squash during the day, so when I came home from work, even though it may seem like a lot of steps, this dinner came together in 20 minutes or so with boxed stock.

Nevertheless, and despite the mediocre photography below, this would be a nice fall main, even for company and/or as a side for grilled seafood or meat. The sage pesto smells amazing and very autumnal! Enjoy!

Squash Sage Risotto

Spaghetti Squash Risotto with Sage Pesto

  • 1 small to medium spaghetti squash, halved and seeded
  • 1 large handful fresh sage
  • 1 large handful of other fresh herbs or greens (parsley, lemon balm, spinach, arugula)
  • 2 Tb. and 1/4 C. olive oil, divided
  • 1/8 C. pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1.5 C. Arborio rice
  • 5.5 C. vegetable stock (be sure it has no soy for allergy-free, as many contain soy oil or protein)
  • 1/2 C. white wine
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 2 Tb. chopped chives
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: chile flakes, zest of 1 lemon, feta or parmesan cheese, fried sage leaves (fry sage leaves in olive oil till crispy)

Bake the seeded and halved spaghetti squash, cut side down, at 450 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until tender. Scoop out squash flesh and set aside.

Make the pesto while the squash is baking–combine the sage, other herbs, lemon juice, salt, and seeds in a food processor. With motor running, slowly add in 1/4 C. olive oil. Add more lemon juice or olive oil as needed to bring combination together into a paste.

Add veggie stock to pan on back burner and heat to steaming. Keep simmering on low. Heat 2 Tb. olive oil in heavy pot, and add onion. Saute for 5 minutes over medium heat and then add garlic. Saute for another 2 minutes. Add the rice and saute 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir until absorbed. Add a pinch of saffron and 1 C. veggie stock, stirring till absorbed. Add stock one cup at a time, stirring until absorbed. When the rice is halfway done (stock is halfway used up), add the cooked squash. When almost all stock is used, stir in pesto.

Once all of stock is used up, add any optional flavorings like the chile flakes, cheese, or lemon zest. Stir in the chopped chives and taste for salt and pepper. Serve while hot, adding the optional fried sage leaves if desired.

¡¡Picante!!

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Hi all! I’ve been doing a lot of finger foods lately: sauces to dip things in, sambusek, mezze, etc. Something about this time of year maybe? Or just that I’ve been working lots of nights which tends to leave me a little queasy and not that hungry for more than little snacks at a time – unless its something REALLY delicious. I came across this recipe on Tasting Table, an e-mail I get regularly that has among other things, recipes from sous-chefs at renowned restaurants across the country. This one really caught my eye – its not something I’d ever really thought of making, but it seemed so simple and oh, that creamy orange color just looked so delicious! I made a few small adjustments, but for the most part I must thank Jose Enrique from San Juan, Puerto Rico for this one. You can of course adjust the heat by adding or subtracting Habaneros. I did it just like is written below and it was spicy after a few seconds, then faded out slowly without ever making you break a sweat. (So next time I think I’ll add more hot peppers.) Goes well with eggs, beans, sandwiches, tacos of all kinds, and just for dipping toasted bits of baguette. Enjoy!

Ingredients (makes ~2-3 cups)

  • 1/2 large yellow onion cut into chunks
  • 1 medium-sized vine tomato, cored and diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper diced
  • 1/2 Anaheim pepper (or substitute another sweet pepper) diced
  • 3 Habaneros – cut off the stem but otherwise leave whole (with seeds)
  • 4 Jalapenos – cut off the stem but otherwise leave whole as well
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
  • ~2.5 cups EVOO – enough to just cover the ingredients
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

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  • Throw everything into a heavy-bottomed Le Creuset-type pot on medium heat
  • Simmer uncovered for 4 hours – there should be small bubbles coming up occasionally, but it should not get to a rolling boil. Everything should begin to brown on the surface as you get towards 4 hours.
  • Let cool.
  • Get the veggies out with a strainer, reserving the oil in the pot. Put the veggies in a food processor. If you have a Vitamix, that would probably yield ideal smoothness. If you have an immersion blender that is not totally dull and useless at this point as mine is, that would work too!

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  • Blend the veggies until smooth. Depending on what consistency you want, add more oil. I ended up adding back probably a half cup or so of what had been strained out. You can also take out a Habanero or two before you puree, see how hot the sauce is, and add the reserved ones back to adjust.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Keep the cooking oil! It has lots of flavor and is nice and spicy.

This will be a fun one to play around with in the future with proportions and other ingredients! If anyone makes it, post your adjustments and let us know how it turns out!

Roast Squash and Onion with Tahini Sauce and Za’atar

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Life in Seattle continues with an amazing amount of warmth, sun, and happy people enjoying themselves outdoors. Just for an example of how great Seattle is in the summer, I share with you my plans for the next 24 hours: Capitol Hill (my ‘hood) street food festival, then watching the Goonies in a public park with some lady friends, then tomorrow hiking to Blanca Lake. For the last few weeks I’ve been on a much easier schedule, with time to go to LA for the weekend for Natalie’s beautiful wedding, cook most nights, run, hike, climb, and enjoy my new (and currently a bit messy) apartment!

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To continue with my Middle Eastern theme on this blog, I’m posting this recipe that is flagrantly plagiarized from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s book Jerusalem. Aya gave me this last year, and I love it! The recipes are all unique and amazing but not too complicated, and the book is full of lovely stories about the foods that brought their families and communities together growing up in West and East Jerusalem. This book is in fact so special that one of the NYT food editors recently published an article about it, asking readers to post their favorite recipes from the book: http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/08/jerusalem-fans-whats-your-favorite-recipe-from-the-book/?_r=0. Everyone seems to have a different favorite. I think so far this one is mine, though I have a long way to go to make everything in the book (just give me some time, I’ll get there!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and cut into ~1x3in chunks
  • 1 large red onion, cut into wedges that will fall apart in the oven
  • 1.5 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3.5 Tbsp tahini
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 Tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 Tbsp Za’atar (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Za%27atar)
  • 2-3 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • Olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 475. Toss the squash and onion in a large bowl with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Spread the veggies out in 1 layer on a baking pan and bake in the oven until they start to brown on top (careful with the onion! They may go first.) ~40-50 min. Let them cool.

2. Toast the pine nuts in a skillet with olive oil on high heat, moving them around until they start to turn ever-so-slightly brown.

3. Make the sauce: whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and a pinch of salt.

 

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4. Sprinkle the pine nuts and drizzle the sauce over the squash and onions. Then sprinkle the za’atar and parsley over everything. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Kim Chi Burritos

Hi all! Its been a long time since I’ve posted, with lots of exciting times in between. Chris and I spent almost every weekend for the last couple months I was in NY up in New Paltz climbing, which was super fun and great quality time together! We had some wonderful family time in NY and Philly, went to Erin and Dan’s beautiful farm wedding in PA, and I had an amazing weekend in Durham, NC with Natalie and lots of other spunky, fantastic women to celebrate her upcoming wedding. And of course I graduated med school, packed up my belonging and headed West!

I’ve now been in Seattle for about a month and I gotta say, life is pretty good! Its been beautiful and sunny almost every day, bike commuting is the bomb, I’m loving my new place and new job, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve managed to make some pretty great new lady friends! Jenell, who I spent 6 weeks with in Peru and who lives down the street from me, suggested a food exchange during our first week of residency, which was a great idea for our busy schedules! Six of us got together for dinner and each brought 5 portions of something we made to share and freeze. So now we each have 6 delicious meals in our freezers to get us through those long days when we don’t have time or energy to cook. I had been wanting to make kim chi and had a big pile of flour tortillas in my freezer, so I went with Korean tacos. Not the fastest, but super easy!

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Climbing at the Gunks

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Paddle boarding in Portage Bay

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Salmon migrating upstream through the Ballard fish ladder to spawn – amazing to watch a piece of this cycle of life!

Ingredients:

First, for the Kim Chi (thanks to Erin Bingham for this part!):

  • ½ large cabbage (~1lb)
  • 1 daikon radish or a few red radishes
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion or leeks or scallions or shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 hot red chillies (i used  few spoonfuls of red pepper flakes instead)
  • 3 T fresh grated ginger root

Then, the tofu:

  • 2 lb extra firm tofu
  • Soy Sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Sesame oil

The beans and rice part:

  • 2 poblanos or regular green peppers
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 16 oz can black beans, or 1.5 cups cooked beans
  • 2 C cooked brown jasmin rice (or other grain)
  • Olive oil

The sauce:

  • 2 kiwis
  • 1 large apple
  • 1 large pear
  • 3 cloves garlic

Other things

  • 1 more onion
  • 2 limes
  • pepper
  • Flour tortillas (I used 10 medium-sized ones for this amt of food)

Directions:

The kim chi needs to be made at least 4 or 5 days, but preferably a week, ahead of time. Mix 4 cups water and 4 tbsp salt in a large bowl. Chop or shred in a food processor the cabbage, carrots, and radishes, then put it  all in the water with a plate or something to keep it submerged. Leave it for at least 4 hours.

Now make the paste: Put the onion, garlic, ginger, and chiles (or pepper flakes) into a food processor and let it go until fairly smooth.

Drain and reserve the brine from the veggies. Mix the past in well with the veggies, then pack it down into a jar. The liquid should just cover everything. If there’s not quite enough, add back some of the brining liquid. Cover and let it ferment in a warm place for at least 4-5 days. Once ripe (you can taste a little every day), move it to the fridge.

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Also marinate the onions a day or two in advance: slice 1 onion and put it in a bag with the juice of 2 limes and some pepper. Add a bit of water so that the liquid just covers the lime slices.

Now for the tofu: cut the tofu into ~1cm thick squares. Heat a non-stick skillet with sesame oil, then brown the tofu squares on each side. When you put the tofu in, add soy sauce and rice vinegar to taste. I probably used a total of 2 tablespoons of rice vinegar and 4 of soy sauce, and I did the tofu in a couple batches so that I could lay the squares in 1 layer and flip all at once.

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To make the sauce, throw the garlic, pear, kiwis and apple into the food processor and sauce-ify it. Then put it in a skillet and heat it all up for 10-15 min, allowing some of the liquid to evaporate.

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Rice and beans: chop the onion and peppers and sautee them in olive oil until soft. Add the black beans and cook for another 5 minutes. Then using a spatula, smoosh the beans. Don’t go crazy, just smoosh out whatever stress you might be feeling at the moment, and move on! Then add the rice and mix it all in together.

Now its time to assemble the burritos! I personally warmed the tortillas in the oven at about 250 for a few minutes, but this is not necessary. This step is pretty self explanatory: spread some kim chi on each burrito, add equal portions of tofu, rice and beans, marinated onions, and fruity sauce to each burrito, wrap up, and you’re done!

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