Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes

Well.  That title sure is a mouthful.  But lucky for you, so is this dinner!  I way over-shopped this week at the grocery store- per usual- and had a random assortment of veggies to cook up.  In honor of fall rolling in full steam ahead, I picked up a spaghetti squash and a jar of pre-made pesto in hopes of meshing some summer and fall flavors.  I’m ready for heartier meals but not quite ready for carb-induced pasta comas.  A compromise!  This Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes was super delicious and a perfect, easy weeknight meal!

The best news? This makes the BOMB leftovers. Hot or cold!

The best news? This makes the BOMB leftovers. Hot or cold!

Now, I know, I know, I should have made my own pesto.  But to be honest, I knew I wasn’t going to have the energy to go through the effort on a weeknight.  So here’s my trick, I bought one of those tiny (and expensive.. ugh) jars of pesto from the store and beefed it up!  I added half a bag of spinach, a large bunch of fresh basil, and a clove of garlic.  Not only did I get waayyyy more bang for my buck doing that (more than doubled the amount in the original jar) but I also cut back on the amount of sodium and fat per serving compared to the original sauce. Win-win!

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Now the balsamic roasted tomatoes…. Holy cow.  I’m debating making and entirely separate post just for these things.  My local Giant Eagle had some huge, local, organic heirloom tomatoes so naturally I bought 2… With no plan for them.  They’re super easy to make while the spaghetti squash comes cools down from the lava-hot stage I usually try to scrape them in.

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So with a few pictures and a very long (but easy- I promise!) recipe, I present to you Pesto Spaghetti Squash!

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Pesto Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 large spaghetti squash, halved
  • Olive oil or non-stick spray
  • 1 jar pre-made pesto sauce
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Parmesan cheese, for topping
  • For the tomatoes:
  • 2-4 large tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven too 400°F
  2. Place squash, cut side up, on baking sheet and brush with oil or spray
  3. Bake squash for 35-40 minutes, until fork-tender
  4. Meanwhile, add jarred sauce to food processor with spinach, basil, and garlic and pulse until well-combined and finely chopped (you could skip this step and use just the jarred sauce or make your own completely from scratch)
  5. Prep tomatoes for roasting by cutting them into think slices, removing seeds, and draining them on a towel (poke hole in edge pieces to allow for draining during roasting)
  6. Space tomatoes evenly on a baking sheet lined with foil and greased parchment paper and drizzle with vinegar, oil, garlic, and salt & pepper
  7. When squash is finished, raise oven temp to 450°F and add tomatoes for 25-30 minute, watching carefully after 20 minutes
  8. To plate, scrape squash carefully into a bowl and toss with pesto sauce, top with parmesan cheese, roasted tomatoes, and a drizzle of olive oil
http://www.areyoukitchenme.com/pesto-spaghetti-squash-roasted-tomatoes/

Sesame Tofu & Peanut Sauce

Tofu has such a bad rap.  I mean, it’s weird, I’ll definitely give you that.  But prepared right, it can be every bit as delicious and satisfying as meat.  In fact, since it’s such a blank canvas it is even more versatile and fun to play with!  And I think that this Sesame Tofu & Peanut Sauce recipe is the recipe that can convince the nonbelievers!  This dish definitely converted my sweetie from a skeptic to “Yeah, you can make this for dinner any time.”  *score

DSC_0302After years of playing with tofu, I’ve learned that pressing it to remove the tons of moisture it absorbs is so key.  Now, I don’t have a fancy tofu press and have absolutely no problem!  I just set the tofu on a stack of paper towels or a dish towel, cover them in another, set a cutting board on top, and then load it up with a heavy cast iron skillet or canned goods.  So don’t skip out or shortcut this step!  I promise it’s worth it!

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Now let’s get on to the good stuff… This sauce! Oh. Em. Gee.  When I first got the idea for this recipe at Kalyn’s blog, I knew I’d be into a sauce with my favorite food in the world (hint- peanut butter) but I had no idea i’d be literally licking the bowl, plate, jar, blender, or whatever contained this crack-laced sauce.  It’s got such a rich creamy wonderful flavor and the perfect balance of sweet and heat that is so divine.  For all you with nut allergies, just use Sunbutter instead and it will turn out perfectly fine!

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I’ve made this more than a couple times now and can officially consider it a regular on the week night menu! I absolutely love serving it with quinoa and simple steamed broccoli and doing dirty things with the peanut sauce… Namely dumping on my entire plate and licking the bowl…. Enjoy!

Sesame Tofu & Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1-2 Tbs sesame seeds
  • Non-stick spray
  • Marinade:
  • 1 Tbs sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1/2 Tbs rice wine (or rice vinegar)
  • 1 Tbs honey or maple syrup
  • 1/2 - 1 Tbs Siracha (I use at least 1 Tbs)
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • Sauce:
  • 1 Tbs fresh grated ginger
  • 2 Tbs peanut butter (the natural, gloppy kind is best)
  • 2 Tbs tahini
  • 3-4 Tbs soy sauce (based on desired consistency)
  • 1-2 Tbs honey or agave
  • 1 Tbs rice wine (or vinegar)
  • 2-3 Tbs water (again, based on consistency)

Instructions

  1. Cut block of tofu in half long-ways to make two flat planks and place between towels. Set a cutting board and heavy objects and set aside for at least 30 minutes, replacing towels as needed.
  2. While tofu presses, prepare the marinade and sauce.
  3. Add all of the marinade ingredients to a plastic bag and shake well to emulsify.
  4. Add all of the sauce ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend well. Add water and/or soy sauce as needed for consistency.
  5. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees, line a baking sheet with foil, and spray liberally with non-stick spray.
  6. Once tofu is pressed, cut each plank into strips and add to bag with marinade, allow to marinate for 20-30 minutes.
  7. After marinating, lay tofu on a plate and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Flip and sprinkle other side.
  8. Evenly space tofu pieces on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flip and bake another 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  9. Serve tofu hot with dipping sauce and enjoy!
http://www.areyoukitchenme.com/sesame-tofu-peanut-sauce/

Dilly Cucumber Tomato Salad

Yeah I know, Tim Hortons is advertising the sugar-coma pumpkin frenzy lattes and drinks of my nightmares.  Yeah I know, school has started and the days are shrinking.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.  But I’M NOT READY for fall! I love football and sweaters and pretty leaves as much as the next guy but I really really love summer.  So, in an attempt to cling to the shreds of summer we have left, I present to you the most refreshing, crunchy, and easy salad ever!  Even better… It requires no lettuce (obvi the best kind of salad) and it a great way to use up that last of your garden’s harvest.  In fact, I made this dish as a way to use up the huge bag of tomatoes from my neighbors! Dilly Cucumber Tomato Salad is da bomb.  Trust.

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I would have used these presh little nuggets in mom and my hands… But I ate them.  All of them. So. Darn. Good.

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Quite a haul!  Thanks neighbors!

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With 6 huge, juicy beefsteak tomatoes from the neighbors and the most ridiculously huge cucumber from mom’s weekly farmer’s market haul, what’s a girl to do?  Add some herbs and call it a salad, duh!  Now, I initially wanted to go Greek with this and make that wonderful little side you get at every Greek restaurant.  Then I remembered that raw onions are a big no-no with this little tummy.  That said, I didn’t include them but feel free to!  They would be so fab!

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Don’t give up on summer yet!! Enjoy!

Dilly Cucumber Tomato Salad

Ingredients

  • 2-3 large, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, lightly packed (about half a bunch)
  • 1 Tbp chopped fresh oregano or basil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Healthy amount of pepper

Instructions

  1. Chop vegetables into 1/2" to 1" pieces.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients until emulsified.
  3. Add veggies and toss well to combine, marinate for a few hours.
  4. Stores well in the fridge for 2-3 days.
http://www.areyoukitchenme.com/dilly-cucumber-tomato-salad/