Saturday, September 07, 2013

Roasted Spaghetti Squash Dinner

This dinner is a culmination of a favorite way to prepare spaghetti squash, a new-found way to quickly prepare a light and bright tasting tomato sauce, and seitan borne of a few different recipes, yielding results so simple and delicious that my picky five year old helped make, tried without prompting, and loved every bite!

I have made spaghetti squash a number of ways. I used to just pierce and bake the whole thing, but now I opt for squashes that are smaller so that they're a bit easier to cut. With a managable size, they're easy enough to cut in half with a sharp knife, scoop out the seeds and innards, and roast with garlic which really does add a wonderful flavor to the squash. I like how the squash strands on the cut end brown and caramelize a bit this way. 

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

1 small to med size spaghetti squash, halved and cleaned
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
olive oil
sea salt

Preheat oven to 375. Place about a tsp or so of olive oil in hand and rub all over cut side of squash. Repeat for second half. (You could use a small bowl and a brush, but that's two more dishes I'd rather not do). Top each half's cavity with garlic (I like to use the oil on my hands to coat the garlic as well as I'm putting it on the squash). Salt each half to taste. Bake in oven for 50 minutes to an hour or until strands of squash pull away easily with a fork. You want the squash pliable, but not mushy. It's ideal that it has some firm texture but is not crunchy. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you make sauce and seitan. Do not turn off oven.

Quick and Light Tomato Sauce

 As I am half Italian, I grew up believing a good pot of red sauce had to sit all day to taste good. Not true! This recipe, adapted from 101 Cookbooks' Five Minute Tomato Sauce, has a bit of a kick, is made light and fresh tasting with the addition of the zest of one lemon, and takes but a few minutes to prepare! I cut down on the oil and the red pepper as to suit my tastes and added half of a large sweet onion because I really love the soft bite of some sweet onion in my tomato sauces. 

1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 small or half of one med. to large. sweet onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 - 1 tsp sea salt
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I have also used canned, peeled, whole tomatoes and just zap with my immersion blender when that's all the grocer has in the brand I am looking for).
zest of one lemon

Open your can of tomatoes. In medium size saucepan, heat 1 olive oil over med high heat. Add onion and saute for a few minutes until it starts to soften and brown a tiny bit. Add garlic, salt, and pepper flakes and, stirring constantly, saute for about 30 seconds. You want to smell garlic but not brown or burn it. Add tomatoes and heat until bubbling. Turn off heat.  If you want a smoother sauce, use immersion blender to produce desired consistency. Stir in lemon zest. No, really. It's that easy. Heidi is a genius.

Simple Sausage Style Seitan

I took a method from VegWeb and used the spices from Julie Hasson's Seitan Cutlet recipe in Vegan Diner and created my new go-to way to make seitan on the fast and easy. I love the texture of this. It's almost crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, not rubbery at all. This recipe could be spiced any way you want to create a flavor that best compliments your dish of choice. I thought the sausage flavor would go well with the squash and tomato sauce. It turned out to be a great combo! My five year old (who is not a fan of trying new things) gobbled up a few pieces with ketchup.

dry ingredients:
1 cup vital wheat gluten (I only use Bob's Red Mill)
2 tablespoons chickpea flour
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp each garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and oregano
1/2 tsp fennel seed

wet ingredients:
1/2 cup water (add a T at a time extra if your dough seems a bit dry. I like my dough to be wet but not soggy and ended up using about 2T water beyond the 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons shoyu
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients and mix evenly with a whisk. In a smaller bowl (I use a glass, two cup measuring cup) whisk together wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently until combined. Knead for a few minutes or until seitan dough is thoroughly mixed and there are no dry, floury parts. You don't need to knead this much at all and you want the dough wet but not soaking wet. 
Shape into a log shape and, with a sharp knife, cut into strips/chunks that are about 1/2 -  1 inch thick. I got 16 strips. Flatten and stretch them out just a bit so that they are no more than 1/2 and inch in thickness. Place on parchment or prepared baking sheet (I use a generic Silpat-like mat. I cannot recommend them enough as you don't need oil to make them non-stick and I no longer have to remember to stock my kitchen with parchment!). I sprayed the tops lightly with olive oil spray, but am not sure that was really necessary and won't do it the next time I make it and will report back. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip seitan pieces and bake for another 4-5 minutes or until desired firmness. We liked that ours were pretty soft but not mushy inside. 

Scrape cooled squash onto plate and top with seitan pieces and tomato sauce. I like to sprinkle a healthy dusting of raw hemp seeds on top of mine as the entire meal is otherwise very low in fat, and I like the little crunch you get from the flavorful hemp seeds. Blending some nuts with nutritional yeast and some garlic and salt makes a good Parmesan stand in as well.

1 comment:

x said...

Yum, I'd love for this to be my dinner! Unfortunately we can't buy spaghetti squash here but I'm determined to grow some one day!