Sunday, March 18, 2012

Winter with a Taste of Spring

It's March, the weather is getting warmer -- it's been usually warm for March for two weeks now -- and I am just itching for the flavors of spring and summer. Trouble is, the produce is not in season. And while I can find some of it in my local supermarket, it's just not as good as when it's in season and I get it fresh from my local farmer's market.

How to I satisfy the crave then? Sun-dried tomatoes. I swear, you can taste the sun in this chewy treat. And since the first time I cooked with sun-dried tomatoes was on a warm April day, the flavor is forever associated with good weather for me. So the sun-dried tomatoes stir up memories of spring and summer, all the while utilizing produce that's in season: winter squash.

It's the best of both worlds.

Spaghetti Squash with Chicken Sausage, Broccoli, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Original recipe from Health magazine
Modified by Country Cooking blog
Prep time: 15 minutes; Cook: 92 minutes
Makes 4 servings

  • 1 spaghetti squash (about 3 1/4 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 1 lb. fresh chicken sausage, casings removed (I like to use Nature's Promise's sun-dried tomato chicken sausage)
  • 1 16 oz. package steam fresh broccoli florets/cuts
  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Pierce spaghetti squash 7 or 8 times with a fork. Place on a baking sheet; bake for 1 1/2 hours or until tender. Cool. Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds. Scrape inside of squash with a fork to remove spaghetti-like strands. Keep warm.
  3. While squash bakes, combine sun-dried tomatoes and 1 cup hot water in a bowl. Let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. Chop the tomatoes.
  4. Heat oil in a pan. Add sausage to pan, breaking up with a wooden spoon.
  5. Once sausage has browned, add onions, garlic, and sun-dried tomatoes. Sauté. Add marinara sauce and heat through.
  6. Cook broccoli according to package directions. Add to sausage mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Combine the squash with the sausage mixture and toss gently. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Notes from the Chef:
  • The recipe originally called for 2 cooked chicken breasts, cut into thin strips. I used the sun-dried tomato chicken sausage instead, to keep that tomato flavor.
  • I always have oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes in the house. When I'm done with the tomatoes, I save the jar with oil, and use for sautéing sometimes, to mix it up from straight olive oil. When cooking the sausage, I used the oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes instead of straight olive oil.
  • This recipe is pretty easy to veganize. Simply omit the sausage or substitute tofu.
  • The original recipe called for steamed fresh broccoli. I used frozen broccoli in the steam fresh bag instead, just to make life a little bit easier.

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