Monday, October 22, 2012

Fit for Fall

Fall is the time when a plethora of squash is in season (okay, I do just love the word "plethora", but it's true) and there are so many different ways to use these healthy, fiber-filled vegetable marrows. Here are my latest ideas:

Spaghetti Squash Topped with Marinated Roasted Soy Glazed Tofu and Spinach

How I did it:
1) Roast the spaghetti squash in the oven on low heat until tender (325 degrees for about an hour for a medium sized squash.)
2) While the squash roasts, marinate extra-firm tofu, diced and patted dry with a paper towel, in a soy basil marinade. I used low sodium soy sauce seasoned with red pepper flakes and a tsp. of pesto whisked in with a drizzle of olive oil, and some torn fresh basil.
3) Saute the marinated tofu in a medium-high heat pan until lightly golden brown on the edges, pouring the remaining marinade (saving a tsp.) in the pan to reduce. Remove the tofu to a plate.
4) Add baby spinach to the pan and wilt down, seasoning with freshly ground black pepper. Turn off heat and squeeze lemon juice for a fresh finish.
5) Remove the squash from the oven and cut it open to scoop out the soft, stringy filling and place it all in a large saute pan with a little olive oil and minced garlic. Fluff up the "spaghetti" strings with a fork to achieve a sort of creamy pasta-like texture.
6) Add a few tablespoons of tomato sauce to the "spaghetti" with the last tsp. of soy basil marinade. The soy will work as an umami booster to enhance the savory flavors of the veggies, but the squash will not actually taste like soy. Add some fresh parsley and basil to finish, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
7) Top the spaghetti squash with the sauteed spinach with lemon vinaigrette and shaved parmesan. Add the tofu to heat through, and serve. This hearty vegetarian dish will feel like eating a bowl of pasta, but in fact it's all vegetables!

Another autumn vegetarian dinner I made:

Butternut Squash and Kale with Whole Wheat Gnocchi
I made this dish for a nutrient-packed dinner with healthy carbs the night before the annual breast cancer awareness 5K (and followed it with a protein-packed breakfast the next morning and had an excellent race!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Appetizer Ideas

At my latest dinner party I put together a few quick appetizers for people to much on with drinks before dinner. The trick is to assemble a few things you don't have to cook, so they're simple and can be served at room temperature. First I put together a fall-themed cheese plate with blue stilton, English cheddar with caramelized onions, pecans, homemade roasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, tart dried cherries, apricots, some pepperoni and roasted red peppers, and honey with cracked black pepper.

Then I topped fresh focaccia bread with caramelized onions with mixed greens, thin slices of prosciutto, shaved parmesan, and a squirt of lemon juice for a second appetizer option.

Followed by grilled veggies and kebabs for dinner and homemade ice cream for dessert. Fall feast!