Spaghetti With Grated Summer Squash and Classic Fresh Pesto Sauce

pasta final

I’ve had a printout of a recipe for Classic Fresh Pesto Sauce on my kitchen counter for over a week now. Every morning when I come in from the garden I think to myself, I should have cut basil so I could make pesto but, then I think about the weather forecast and how hot it will be and fixing pasta which was the whole reason I was going to make the pesto, doesn’t sound like a great idea anymore.

But finally, the weather has cooled down and we’re enjoying temps in the 50s overnight and into the mid 80s during the day. Beautiful weather. Weather that makes me feel like cooking pasta. So this morning I gathered pesto ingredients; fresh basil, parsley and oregano and took them to the kitchen along with some summer squash and cherry tomatoes that were ready to pick. Today I would make pasta with the Classic Fresh Pesto Sauce for lunch.

pasta, squash & pestoWith no real recipe in mind but the pesto sauce I decided that I would cook up some brown rice spaghetti and toss it with uncooked, shredded summer squash and the pesto. The final touches would be halved cherry tomatoes from my garden, shredded parmesan cheese and ground pepper.

I have to say I think the squash idea turned out great. If you didn’t see me put it in the dish you wouldn’t even know it was in there. The taste of the raw squash is very mild, so when you add the pesto and toss the mixture the squash just blends in.

roasted garlicThe pesto sauce recipe I used is from Renee’s Garden Blog, June-2013 and it’s one that will become a standard for me. I did change one thing from the original recipe, instead of adding fresh garlic as noted in the recipe, I added a whole head of roasted garlic. Roasted garlic is one of the staples I try to keep in the refrigerator. Its is easy to make, has a more mellow taste than the raw. To make roasted garlic you start with whole fresh heads. Cut the tops off of each head and place in foil, pour olive oil over the heads just so it seeps down amongst the cloves, you won’t need a lot, maybe a tablespoon or less per head depending on head size. Seal the packet tightly then roast in a 350° oven for about an hour or until the garlic is soft to the touch. Let the packet cool, then refrigerate. It’s that simple. To use just squeeze the cloves from the head if you’re using the whole thing.  If you want to extract just a few cloves, I find a fork or the tip of a knife works well for scooping them out.  If you’ve never tried roasted garlic in pesto or other sauces give it a try you just might find that you like it as much as I do.

Craving Mac n Cheese

The other day I made my favorite Mac n Cheese. I’ve been craving it for a while but it’s been too warm to cook this type of food so when the days started cooling off I knew exactly what it was time for; creamy Mac n Cheese with crispy edges and crusty top.

It was a Saturday and the Farmers’ Market that I usually go to is on Sunday morning. That means I was out of just about everything fresh. So, that night I feasted on my Mac n Cheese accompanied by only a simple salad of baby greens, shredded carrots and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds. Tasty enough but as I sat down to eat I thought, “you know what would be great with this Mac n Cheese, grilled Brussels sprouts”.  Next morning as I shopped the Farmers’ Market the first thing I picked up was some Brussels sprouts and some Crimii mushrooms. I also picked up a nice butternut squash, some onions and a couple of Black Arkansas apples (more on these later)

Sunday night I grilled the Brussels sprouts, Chrimini, onion and garlic and feasted on left over Mac n Cheese with a side of the roasted veggies. Oh my was it good. Definitely a great accompaniment to the Mac n Cheese. You can find more ways to fix Brussels sprouts on my January 22, 2010 post, \”How I Learned To Love Brussels Sprouts\”. You might even consider one of these versions as a side for Thanksgiving.

Here’s the recipe for the Mac n Cheese. It’s from James Beard’s American Cookery and has been my favorite since my son was a little boy. Which, as I consider it, was a long time ago.

Macaroni and Cheese I

½ lb macaroni (I use brown rice pasta)

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 ½ cups milk

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon dry mustard

Dash Tabasco

1 to 1 ½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese (I use a sharp Tillamook)

Boil the macaroni in salted water till just tender. Drain well. Prepare a white sauce — melt the butter in a heavy saucepan, blend with the flour, and cook several minutes over medium heat. Heat the milk to the boiling point, stir into the flour-butter mixture, and continue stirring until it thickens. Add the seasonings and simmer 4 to 5 minutes.

Butter a 2 or 2 ½ quart baking dish or casserole. In it arrange alternate layers of macaroni, sauce, and cheese, ending with cheese.  Option: Cover the top with buttered breadcrumbs. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the sauce is bubbly. Serve at once.