Regardless of your political leanings, I hope we can take a step back and be grateful for the opportunity to freely express our individual choices without retaliation or threat to life and limb. Our country has seen hard times, not for the first time, nor the last, but we always pull through. And we will again.
But, republican or democratic or libertarian or independent, the one thing we all can gather around with good cheer is the stove. Food connects people in primal, essential ways that few other things can. So, if you can, break bread today with the people important to you — even if they voted for the other guy — and celebrate togetherness and our right to choose and be heard.
And now for the clunkiest of clunky segues: spaghetti squash!
This year, I’ve completely embraced the spaghetti squash. I didn’t grow it at home — not enough room for the big viners, although I might try it next year in one of my tomato beds — but I made sure to purchase a good store of it before the farmers’ markets shuttered for the season.
I was on the “meh” fence about the squash until a friend of mine posted a preparation method for boiling it, instead of time-consuming roasting. It sounded … insufficient … but, hey, I’ll try anything once, and she was so enthusiastic about the results that I couldn’t argue the success.
And yeah, it’s awesome. Easy enough that you can freeze a winter’s worth of squash in an hour (I spoon mine into one quart freezer bags, which can fit the spaghetti strands from about one half of an average squash — if I’m cooking up a quick meal for just myself, I simply crack off what I need from the bag and tuck the rest back in the freezer); speedy enough that you can make a healthy lunch, even if you’re starting the squash from raw (although freezing is so easy, I definitely encourage that).
Like pasta, spaghetti squash has a bland flavor and al dente texture that takes to sauce like a fish to water. It’s also the perfect, sturdy base for a saute, like today’s shrimp and vegetable concoction.
Use your favorite veggies: I still have bell peppers and scallions growing in my garden, so I used those, along with 2012’s leafy darling, kale. For a strictly vegetarian take, this combo works really well with tofu cubes or “chickn” strips.
Oh, and Vote!
Although my schedule today is such that I have to wait until the evening to vote, I’ve already heard many lovely stories of good cheer at the polls: happy people politely exercising their constitutional rights and duties as citizens to choose a leader of this amazing country. Yay!
Shrimp + Vegetable Saute over Spaghetti Squash
This quick and easy stir fry makes a satisfying lunch on busy weekends. Feel free to sub your favorite veggies
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 heaping cups prepared spaghetti squash threads, fresh or frozen (about 1/2 of a squash) (see note below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon miso
1/2 teaspoon red Thai curry paste
1 teaspoon soy or Shoyu sauce
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 scallion, sliced
3 large kale leaves (I use lacinto kale), stems removed, torn into 1/2″ bits
1/2 pound shrimp, cooked or raw, deveined, tails removed (mostly thawed, if using frozen)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Saute the spaghetti squash: heat 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering. Add the spaghetti squash threads and saute until of the liquid has evaporated (this will take a few minutes if thawed). Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl; set aside.
2. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the large skillet and allow to warm until shimmering. Add the miso, curry paste and soy sauce, mixing well with the oil until the miso is blended in.
3. Add the peppers and scallions to the skillet and stir to coat with the miso-oil seasoning. When the peppers turn soft, add the kale leaves and shrimp, stirring frequently. Saute until the shrimp is cooked through, opaque, pink on the edges, and plump. Season with salt and pepper to suit.
4. To serve, divide the spaghetti squash evenly between two plates and top with the shrimp and veggie mixture.
*Note: Spaghetti squash is super easy to prepare – try this boiling method: Fill a large stock pot 2/3rds full with water and set to boil. Wash the squash and crack off the stem, if long. When the water is boiling, gently lower the squash into the pot (it will float). Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle boil, cover, and cook the squash for 20 minutes. Use a spatula or spoon to turn the squash several times so that all sides have a chance to cook in the water. When the tip of a sharp knife easily pierces the skin, carefully remove the squash from water and set aside to cool (I like to lift it out with two pairs of tongs, but you can also pour the whole thing out into a colander in the sink). When you can safely handle the squash, slice off the stem end and then cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard (or save for other purposes). Use a fork to scrape along the flesh of the squash – it will come off in long strands, just like spaghetti. Use immediately, or freeze in a zip lock bag