Spaghetti Squash Mac & Cheese?!
Lance and I are really striving to be a bit more meat, dairy, and gluten-free. But slowly. I really think the trick is going to be replacing things slowly, tricking our minds toward the healthier version. Not necessarily with tofu, seitan, and plant-based meat alternatives (not a fan), but subbing particular ingredients toward plants. I want things to be what they are, simply and cleanly and in season, not pretending to be something else!
I have come to love Sarah Bond’s website LiveEatLearn.com. She has degrees in nutrition and sensory science. There are easy vegetarian recipes, presented one ingredient at a time. I appreciate her focus on minimalism and lack of complicated gadgets. She goes deep with ingredients by season, so you can truly explore the variety of possibilities with eggplant, grains, or legumes. I’ve shared her popsicle recipes, sweet potato alfredo, and spinach pesto.
In this life, especially during times that scream for familiar comfort foods, I could never give up pizza and mac and cheese completely. Below are recipes for both, starring beets, preserved lemons, and spaghetti squash. And guess what? The farmers markets are opening up very soon! With this in mind, let’s focus on the abundance of the bounty coming from our very own ground, supporting our local farmers and pivoting toward health. Start or restart now!
Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese
1 spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon each salt, pepper, garlic powder
Optional: ½ cup shredded mozzarella
Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Cut spaghetti squash in half* and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle the inside with olive oil, rubbing to evenly coat. Place cut-side down on a baking sheet and prick the outside with a fork. Roast for about 30 minutes, or until fork tender but still a little firm. When finished, flip over and allow to cool enough to touch.
While squash cooks, heat milk in the microwave until lukewarm, about 30 seconds. Melt butter over medium heat in a large saute pan. Whisk in flour to form a smooth paste. Slowly drizzle in the milk, whisking constantly, until it's fully incorporated. Increase heat and cook while whisking until mixture thickens into a thick sauce. Stir in cheese, mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.
Use a fork to scrape strands from the inside of the spaghetti squash (if serving in the squash shell, leave about ¼ inch of flesh in the squash to support your bowls). Transfer spaghetti strands to your pan with the sauce, stirring to evenly combine. You can eat it at this point, or double bake it.
Optional Double Bake: Optionally spoon mac and cheese mixture back into spaghetti squash shells and top with mozzarella cheese. Set in the oven and broil for 2 to 3 minutes, watching closely until cheese melts and turns golden brown.
*Cut squash horizontal for longer spaghetti strands. Cut lengthwise for prettier presentation when serving the mac and cheese in the squash shell.
Adapted from liveeatlearn.com
Mediterranean Beet and Shrimp Pizza
Sound strange? Find ingredients you love and use them. Don’t like the traditional green bell pepper (I do not)? Don’t use it. Don’t like parsley? Use cilantro or mint instead. Don’t love tomato sauce? Don’t use it. Chances are, if you like the ingredients, the combination of a few will be yummy…
1 pizza dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon za’atar
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1 teaspoon sumac
½ cup shredded Parmesan
½ cup shredded gouda
½ cup crumbled feta
2 cups roasted, medium dice beets
1 package cooked shrimp
2 preserved lemons, chopped, seeds removed
½ cup red onion, small dice
½ cup torn mint leaves
Lightly spray or oil a pizza pan or baking sheet. Roll or press out the pizza dough until evenly distributed, with thicker edges if preferred.
Set oven to its highest heat, preferably 500.
Spread olive oil evenly across dough with the back of a spoon. Squirt honey on the crust. Sprinkle seasonings evenly. Sprinkle cheeses. Then add remaining ingredients (so you can see what you are eating).
Bake on center rack for 10-12 minutes until crust is golden. Let cool for 5 minutes, slice and eat with a side salad for more veggie love.