I never thought I’d see the day when a vegetable could pass for an acceptable pasta substitute. I was skeptical of the many spaghetti squash recipes I saw on cooking shows, but after finally experimenting with one per my New Years’ Resolution to eat fewer carbs, I was shocked—it’s pretty darn close to spaghetti! In my carb-favoring opinion, the “spaghetti” has a surprisingly firm texture and a subtly sweet and nutty flavor that I don’t mind at all. Plus, one squash yields a TON of “spaghetti,” and at only 30 calories per 1 cup serving, there is zero-guilt in devouring the whole plate.
Spaghetti Squash Marinara With Grape Tomato Bruschetta
When I think of classic comfort food, I think of Mom’s Sunday night spaghetti with meatballs and sausage. I’m talking about meatballs and sausage made with love that have been simmering in homemade gravy ALL DAY…yum! But let’s be honest: it’s a Tuesday night, you had a long day, and you want a nice plate of meaty spaghetti PRONTO. Well, here’s my short-cut to a super flavorful, comforting spaghetti dish. The trick to faking that simmering-all-day goodness is cooking the sausage in the same pot as your gravy.
Spaghetti With Spicy Sausage Gravy
I recently signed up for one of those grocery subscription boxes—you know, the service that mails you perfectly portioned ingredients and the recipes to cook 3 meals per week. It’s a luxury for sure when one plastic-wrapped garlic clove and the smallest bottle of olive oil you’ve ever seen arrive on your doorstep every week. I justified the cost of the service as a trial to be inspired by ingredients and dishes I wouldn’t otherwise spend money on at the grocery store or at a restaurant to try. I opted into the vegetarian subscription service—not because I’m vegetarian—but because I entertain a few vegetarian friends, and in my own attempt to eat a little less meat, I wanted to explore some heartier, non-meat sources of protein. It’s been a few months now, and so far, so good! I’ve discovered I actually like mushrooms and tofu (gasp!), and there are a TON of high-protein grains I never knew about, which is a huge relief for my pasta addiction, like bulgar, red quinoa, and fregula sarda (see below). However, I usually deviate from the recipes that the service provides and make my own creations, often adding other ingredients I already have on hand and subtracting some of the ingredients that don’t fit with the flavors I’m going for. So last week, I ended up with a few odds and ends that haven’t made it into any of my dishes. Wondering what to do with these mismatched ingredients, it dawned on me: wait, this looks familiar… it’s Chopped! This long-winded story was my way of sharing the inspiration behind this “whatever’s on hand” dish that turned out surprisingly wonderful! Nutty pasta, earthy mushrooms, both buttery and crispy beans, and a touch of lemon juice and grated cheese bring it all together into a light dinner or a savory side dish. I hope this recipe inspires you to star in your own personal episode of Chopped!
Fregula Sarda with Mushrooms and Butter Beans
I’ve never cooked with Mascarpone cheese before, thinking that it was only used for Italian desserts, like a nice Tiramisu. But when I came across a few recipes using it in savory sauces, I had to give it a try. I’m happy to report that it was a success! Compared to cream cheese or heavy cream, Mascarpone is less dense and less sweet, and it emulsifies much easier than butter. With the spice of the sausage and the creaminess of the white beans, the pan gravy perfectly ties this dish together. Throw in a little pasta to soak up all that deliciousness, and you’re all set, in less than a half-hour.
Campanelle With White Beans, Spicy Sausage, and Mascarpone Pan Gravy
This recipe is a labor of love, and it’s so worth it. Warm, sweet, savory, melt-in-your-mouth comfort food doesn’t get much better than this. So much so, that despite being a self-proclaimed efficiency queen, I love this dish even though I can’t multi-task my way to completion within an hour. If I had one regret about the last time I made this dish, it’s that I didn’t make twice as much for my guests. Serve with a simple boiled or roasted vegetable, such as string beans or broccoli rabe.
Sweet Potato Pillows With Brown-Butter Sage and Garlic-Herb Crumble
OK, so this may be the shortest, easiest recipe I’ll ever post. It’s so easy that I almost feel guilty calling it a recipe. So, instead, let’s call it a suggestion for those nights when you just need something quick and satisfying.
Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
A very wise editor I used to work with spoke often of the misuse of the exclamation point. She was not a fan of the emphatic “thank you!” or “hi!” in e-mails either because, honestly, you were never THAT appreciative or happy toward someone you worked with. She told us that editors and writers are only given 3 exclamation marks to use in their ENTIRE lifetime of writing, so you better use them well. Personally, I break this rule daily, as an email “thank you” without the exclamation mark is more likely to be construed as passive aggression. As predicted, we’re all de-sensitized to the exclamation mark. However, if there was ever a time to justify an exclamation mark, now is one of those times…
Shells Stuffed With Butternut Squash in Brown Butter Sage Sauce!
… this would be him, and he would never apologize for how delicious he is.
Fried Gnocchi with Lemon-Basil Pesto