Spaghetti Squash – the vegetable noodle

This time of year I am absolutely crazy about spaghetti squash. These large, yellow oval squashes should be popping up in your CSAs and on your supermarket shelves. They are delicious, healthy, and provide easy-to-cook vegetable noodles that you can substitute in all of your favorite pasta recipes. In the above photo I topped my “noodles” with a sauce made from the last fresh tomatoes of the season, pesto, capers, and of course, a healthy dose of parmesan cheese. Not all squash will come with their own instruction sheets, so if you’re not sure how to cook spaghetti squash, never fear.

Preparing Spaghetti Squash
1. Cut the squash into manageable chunks. This may just be halves for a small squash, or quarters for a larger squash.
2. Carefully scoop out the seeds, leaving the flesh. You can wash the seeds and place them on a greased cookie sheet and roast them in the oven, if you like!
3. Place the squash, cut side down, in a large casserole dish/es, cut side down. Add water to dish until it covers the bottom half inch to inch of the squash.
4. Microwave on HI until the squash is soft. For two smallish squash halves, this will take about 8 minutes. OR you can roast the squash in the oven, much like you would acorn or butternut squash. This method works fine, but will take much longer.
5. Remove the squash sections from the casserole and allow them to cool slightly.
6. Using a fork, “rake” the squash flesh away from its outer shell. It will pull off in strings, like spaghetti noodles.
7. Serve dressed or with sauce on the side, like any other “noodle.”


A Chard and Tofu “Saag Paneer”

I can hardly tell you how beautiful my rainbow swiss chard is. Still growing strong in my raised bed, I look at it longingly everyday, but usually feel compelled to eat some of the vegetables from CSA languishing the refrigerator. Not tonight. In the mood for some saag paneer, but without paneer on-hand or spinach, I decided to do a little recipe sleuthing on the internet. Surely others have made similar substitutes before? I discovered that chard, turnip and other dark leafy greens are frequent substitutes for spinach in “saag.” And vegans substitute tofu for paneer all the time. I used a combination of recipes from epicurious and the webblog “Tigers and Strawberries,” which used a more complex spice mixture. While I might not have created the most authentic version of this dish, I was able to use the chard and the last of the hot thai chilies in my garden, along with the tofu in the fridge. AND to make use of the green tomatoes from my CSA in this sweet and spicy chutney from Food in Jars.

Sadie’s Diner and Juice Bar, Toronto

Yep, it’s another Toronto vegetarian food update. Multicultural, artsy, and very urban, Toronto not only has plenty of vegetarian-friendly restaurants and cuisines, but some great local favorites dedicated to your vegetarian and vegan whims. One of my favorites is Sadies’ Diner and Juice Bar. I stopped by with my Canada man for some weekend brunch and was treated with a lush all-day breakfast menu and a blessedly short wait. I’m a sucker for spicy eggs in the morning, and after much oggling of the menu I finally decided on the huevos rancheros with crispy tortillas, refried beans, guac and cheddar (also available with tofu scramble and vegan cheese). Certainly not health food, but it hit the spot.

The man ordered the breakfast burrito which featured a filling almost identical to my huevos. But he got the most delicious vegan sausage on the side. What’s the secret to making these run-of-the-mill Yves grocery sausages delicious? Oil. The deep fat fried kind. They were delicious. Unfortunately, Michael Cera didn’t sit down at the table beside us (though the vegetarian and native Torontonian recently did pay a visit), but the food at Sadie’s more than made up for it.

Sadie's Diner on Urbanspoon

Fresh, Toronto CA

Fresh is an incredible small chain of vegan restaurants in Toronto, Canada. While they do offer dairy products as a “side” item, everything on the expansive menu – salads, wraps, soups, “bowls” and burgers is made from fresh, vegan ingredients and loads of vegetables. Fresh also features a full juice and smoothy bar with enough options to fill half of the expansive menu. And, if you’re the sort of person who likes take-out, we offer a 15% discount to customers who bring in their own bottles or bags for takeout orders. In general, I had a hard time choosing what to eat – I’m just not used to having so many wonderful vegetarian options.

Pictured above is the green goddess bowl on brown basmati rice: steamed bok choy, kale, swiss chard & broccoli with grilled tempeh, pickled ginger, toasted sunflower seeds, tahini sauce, toasted nori & ginger tamari sauce. Just the perfect amount of crunchy, hearty and savory, I love the bowl.

I paired the goddess bowl with a sweet ginger tea to fight the cool and rainy Toronto weather. The only question is, how do we get a Fresh in Philadelphia?

Fresh By Juice For Life on Urbanspoon