Saturday, August 28, 2010
Cooking on Really Hot Days - and a Recipe!
I love to cook. I enjoy playing with herbs and spices and watching ingredients come together in the kitchen to create something new. It's the one major chore I would not want to hire someone else to do. However, there are times, such as during awful heat waves, when the thought of turning on a stove makes me just a little queasy.
Virginia tends to get hot and humid during the summer, but there are often breaks in the heat. In addition, our "hot and humid" tends to hover in the 80s. The weeks on end of temperatures in the 90s as we've had this year are hotter than I'm used to, and I'm happy to see fall coming. However, in the meantime I've been making the best of it with tomato salads, fresh melons from the farmer's market and simple recipes that don't require heating up the entire kitchen.
One of my favorites has been spaghetti squash "pasta". This one is a lot of fun to play with. I put different things in there every time I make it. Earlier this week, I made a version with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, some fresh cilantro, red pepper flakes and shredded parmesan. It's also good with garlic, olive oil and sliced cherry tomatoes, or with shredded cheddar, fresh parsley and sauteed mushrooms.
Here's how you make the basic spaghetti squash (quick and easy, I promise!):
1. Using a sharp knife, make slits in the rind of the spaghetti squash all the way around. This is very important - you don't want your squash to explode during cooking. Trust me on this one. :-)
2. Place spaghetti squash on a microwave-safe plate, put it in your microwave and zap it at 4 minute intervals until it's ready. The squash is ready when you see the juices oozing out of the slits you made in the rind and the squash gives slightly when pressed. For most sqaushes, this will take 10-12 minutes of cooking.
3. Let squash cool for 5-10 minutes.
4. Cut squash open lengthwise. Taking a fork, remove the seeds and then scrape along the inside of the squash. The interior will come apart as you do this, looking almost exactly like spaghetti.
5. Collect the "spaghetti" in a large bowl, and toss with whatever toppings you care to use.