Good Day Everyone,
Happy Vernal Equinox !
Springtime represents so many things in our society, that it’s hard to overlook this major transitional period–and subsequently positive alteration to the environment–by way of beautiful blooms, pollination and the beginning of a new growing season. Spring washes over us all and makes way for sweet morning reads by a window and fresh spring salads to compliment the change of weather.
As March settles in, I am finding my time being stretched in different directions and all I can think about lately is savory goodness to satisfy my longing to stay nourished through the busy days of work and creative projects. This recipe revealed itself one late afternoon while I was alone in the kitchen and peeking into our refrigerator for what we had “in stock” at the time. These are the moments I enjoy most in the culinary experience because my imagination stands a chance. Have you ever heard that we all like a range of options, but if you present too many, we’re less likely to come to a solidified choice? Well on this particular afternoon, we were just scant enough in the produce department that is our kitchen, that I felt a happy inclination towards this vibrant and delicious spaghetti dish.
I knew I wanted pasta, but mother time had not gifted enough to me in this instance to warrant making it from scratch. However, I was able to use Tinkyada spaghetti noodles and they were just what I had in mind. I wanted a noodle I could wrap my fork around and spaghetti, along with farfalle, remind me of Spring! Also, I wanted to–as I’m sure most of you know about me–balance color, but I did lean on the green end for this dish.
I wanted to balance the semi-soft nature of the dish with something crunchy, and after cutting open the butternut squash, I was in luck; seeds! I decided to combine the butternut squash seeds with the other three you’ll see listed below to make a nice crunchy medley. Honestly, I initially wanted these roasted, but I went with toasted and I was pleased with the results, however I recommend trying both ways. Additionally, I did not hull the butternut squash seeds but ate them as they are.
The peas and the butternut squash balanced their sweetness and semi-savory nature perfectly and will dance on your palette with divine texture and pleasure.
Take a moment this spring to appreciate the colors nature offers, appreciate the remainder of veggies nestled in your fridge and prepare yourself a happy Spring sketti!
Splendid Springtime Spaghetti (gluten-free)
- 1 package gluten-free spaghetti (I used the Tinkyada brown rice kind, but the quinoa pasta is great too!)
- 1/2 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
- 5 or 6 sun dried tomatoes (cut into strips and re-hydrated if purchased dried–boil water and place dried tomatoes in hot water after removing from heat; soak for 10 min.)
- 7 or 8 thin slices of purple onion (cut in half, and separate into slivers)
- 4 white mushrooms (cut into thin slices)
- 1 bundle of flat leaf parsley(leaves and majority of stems minced)
- 1 1/4 cup red kidney beans (cooked and drained)
- 6 or 7 glugs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Spanish paprika
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 medium to large butternut squash (roasted strips)
- A couple of glugs extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt
- A few shakes or cranks black pepper
- All butternut squash seeds from cut squash (rinsed well and partially dried–either toss pulp or use for compost)
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds (raw; optional)
- 2 tbsp sunflower seeds (raw; optional)
- 1/2 avocado (per person, thin slices)
Instructions (butternut squash)
- Preheat oven to 375ºF
- Rinse and peel squash and chop off bottom and top
- Slice in half through the vertical perimeter and then use seed scooper or large spoon to scoop out seeds and pulp
- Place seeds into a bowl reserving them for the seed mixture topping (see above)
- Cut squash into 1/2 inch thick strips, about an inch and a half long
- Place squash strips in medium bowl and cover with a couple of glugs olive oil, salt and pepper
- Toss squash with hands until it is lightly coated with oil, salt and pepper
- Distribute squash evenly on baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes (flip half-way)
- Once baking is complete, place aside
Instructions (pasta dish)
- Begin by prepping all veggies
- Boil enough water to be able to submerge entire pasta amount (I break pasta in half); salt pasta once pasta is added. Cook 10 – 15 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Gluten-free pasta can get mushy very easily, that’s why you want it to be slightly undercooked or perhaps this is your taste
- Drain, rinse and place pasta back into sauce pan or pot
- Add olive oil and all spices and marjoram to cooked pasta
- Add all veggies except butternut squash
- Mix well, but gently so as to not tear apart the spaghetti
- Add lemon juice and salt to taste and stir
- Keep over a very low heat to warm until the next step is complete
- In a bowl, mix together all seeds, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper (lightly coating seeds)
- In a dry skillet, over medium heat, add seeds and toast until golden brown (note: add the sesame seeds toward the end of the toasting process as they will brown much faster than the other seeds)
- Serve pasta in bowls and place butternut squash slices on top, then fan out avocado slices and finally sprinkle with seed mixture
- Serves: Approx. 4 people
- Enjoy out on the patio, your front steps or in whatever immediate outdoors area you have and I recommend following this meal (15-30 minutes later of course :p) with a kombucha!
Oh beets, how you constantly surprise me with your varietal flavors and textures.
Recently I tried out Susan Voisin’s recipe for gluten-free, soy-free, vegan ‘Beet Balls’ and they were fantastic. I had a few of my own tweaks, but for the most part I stuck to the recipe at hand, which is saying a lot for me. Click on the link above for a more ‘behind the scene’ look at the origin of this recipe.
What did I think? These things were completely marvy! Everything about them was pleasurable from the savory, evenly seasoned flavor to the chunky yet doable texture. I have tried them two different ways; once on top of pasta which I’ve shown, and once crumbled on a dish. Both times my experience was exceptional and satisfying. Additionally, the reheat factor is a cinch; I just threw mine on a dry skillet at a low setting for about 10 minutes whilst rolling around to evenly heat.
I recommend using these ‘beet balls’ as just that or in a taco, on a pizza as Susan suggests, crumbled on top of a salad, or even mixed into a bowl of quinoa. You could even add them on top of lightly wilted beet greens in order to use the entire vegetable.
Here are a few of my recommendations and tweaks. (All local produce). First of all, I used baby bella mushrooms which have a very similar texture to porcini mushrooms and are easily accessible and less expensive. To match the proportion, I used around 6 or 7 small to medium-sized mushrooms. Additionally, I used a typical red beet, rather than a golden beet, so mine turned out a lovely crimson color. Note that the red beets are a tad sweeter, but not by much. I also used raw walnuts instead of pecans or almonds because I felt they would add a lovely flavor and texture that wouldn’t overpower everything else, and luckily for me, I was right! ^____^ I would recommend taking the balls out half way through the cooking process to turn them so they can brown evenly on both sides.
Thank you Susan for a fantastic and creative recipe that I will be making many more times. In fact I have two medium-sized beets left, and I’ll be in beet ball city this weekend as I prepare them for the freezer. There’s nothing better than homemade frozen dinners for when you’re in a time crunch. 😀
I knew I wanted to stick to an Italian theme when I prepared these, so I cooked some gluten-free spaghetti with a pasta sauce I had never tried before and I would like to share it with all of you.
Rising Moon Organics – Garlic & Merlot Pasta Sauce Breakdown:
My First and Final Impressions and Reflections:
Take Away: I would most assuredly buy Rising Moon Organics pasta sauce again. In fact as far as a quick sauce, they are #1 for me at this point. Something I’d like to see them specify is allergens and perhaps more about the packaging of their materials. This sauce was fantastic and I cannot wait to try the Garlic & Chanterelle Mushroom!
My full meal: Susan Voisin’s recipe for beet balls on top of Tinkyada’s gluten-free spaghetti mixed with Rising Moon Organic’s Garlic & Merlot flavor pasta sauce. Très magnifique! (Pre-dinner bed of greens of course :p ).
I hope you all truly enjoy preparing this meal, I did. I must admit, I have a hard time approaching any meal with abandon, but I’m working on relaxing a bit when it comes to food. Although I’m a firm believer in being as connected as possible to what you’re eating, I am also keen to the fact that I can’t change everything and life can have a modicum of hedonism, right?
I’d love any feedback about fun ways you’ve incorporated beets into recipes and how you’ve utilized pasta sauces in creative ways.
And remember…bite responsibly.
Healthy and Warm Regards,