Spaghetti Squash with Browned Butter, Parmesan and Crispy Sage

parm squash

Autumn is here and squash season has arrived and I could honestly say I haven’t met a squash that I didn’t like. There’s a huge variety of squash to choose from, all packed with vitamins and minerals which makes them a healthy food option as well as being low in carbs and gluten free.

One of my favorite types of squash is spaghetti squash, it can become a hearty entree for lunch or dinner or the perfect side dish which I’m featuring here.

 

spaghetti squash

One thing I’ve learned from experience is not to over cook my squash in the oven, if you over cook it you won’t have those nice distinct strands that are so characteristic of spaghetti squash, so I like to cook mine a little al dente otherwise it can become one big pile of soft mush.

You’ll be cooking the strands a little more anyway, sometimes in the oven or like I did in this case on top of the stove.

cooked squash

It looks just like spaghetti doesn’t it?

brown butter and sage

You’ll need just a few ingredients, unsalted butter, garlic, fresh sage, freshly grated parmesan or even Granna Padano and your favorite toasted nuts, I like using hazelnuts for this.

toasted sage and hazelnuts

Browned butter has a nutty, deep caramelized flavor which enhances any dish something that regular butter just can’t do.

squash and parmesan

I’ve made this many times as a side to a light protein and it always gets rave reviews.

Or you can just grab a fork and eat it as is!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spaghetti Squash with Browned Butter, Parmesan and Crispy Sage
 
Take advantage of squash season with this side dish or entree of creamy and flavorful spaghetti squash
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 large handful of fresh sage
  • 3 finely crushed or grated garlic cloves
  • a showering of grated parmesan as much as you like
  • toasted hazelnuts split in half
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds best you can, you'll also be able to remove them after it's roasted.
  2. Drizzle the cut squash with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Add parchment paper to a rimmed sheet pan and place the squash cut side down.
  4. Roast at 375 til the tip of a knife goes in easily, usually around 40 minutes but it really depends on the size of the squash. ( I once went a little over an hour and the squash was limp and mushy and the strands clumped together.) You're looking for an al dente feel.
  5. When squash is done cooking flip over to cut side up and let the 2 halves cool down.
  6. When squash is cool, take a fork and rake the squash to get all the strands making sure you get all the bottom and sides, then set aside the "spaghetti".
  7. FOR THE BROWNED BUTTER SAUCE
  8. On medium heat place the butter in a shallow fry pan, once the butter starts to foam add the garlic and sage, once it turns dark tan and smells nutty it's finished and the sage should be somewhat crispy, then add in the toasted nuts.
  9. You can remove the garlic if it gets too dark (optional).
  10. Toss in your spaghetti squash strands adding little bits of the crispy sage and preserving some for the garnish.
  11. Place the tossed squash onto your pretty serving bowl and GENEROUSLY shower it with grated fluffy parmesan cheese.
  12. Top with a few crispy sage leaves for garnish.

 

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Pork Chop Vesuvio For Two

one pan pork chops

There’s a popular dish here in Chicago called chicken Vesuvio. An Italian-American dish which is hearty and perfect for this time of year when the weather is starting to turn cooler. It has a luscious sauce that consists of olive oil, butter, white wine, lots of garlic, lemon and oregano, it’s so delicious you’ll be tempted to drink it on its own! The best version of chicken Vesuvio ( in my opinion and many others) uses bone-in chicken, although you can find it made with boneless chicken breasts as well.

This same technique of cooking the meat and making the sauce can also be applied to bone-in pork chops like I’ve done here.

pork potatoes and peas

Another distinctive feature of Vesuvio dishes is the addition of potato wedges and peas which take on all the amazing flavors from the sauce.

pork and savory sauce

Although this recipe for pork chops is for two you can easily double or triple it, and of course the same technique can be used for bone- in chicken. When making it with chicken you’ll  just need to make sure you have enough sauce depending on how many chicken pieces you use.

For this recipe I used two nice sized Frenched bone-in, center cut pork loin chops, this could definitely be a date night meal or a slow Sunday dinner.

pork chops Italian

All you need to serve along side this is maybe a salad or another green vegetable, and that will do it!

Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Pork Chop Vesuvio For Two
 
A special technique in the cooking process ( Vesuvio) creates this specialty dish very popular in Chicago at many Italian American restaurants.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 bone in Frenched, center cut pork loin pork chops
  • 2 russet potatoes, medium size scrubbed clean with skin on then cut into quarter wedges
  • 1 heaping cup of peas
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 6 garlic cloves, 3 whole and 3 thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons of dry oregano
  • 3 tablespoons butter lightly rolled in flour (which helps gives the sauce a very light thickening)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges
  • parsley for garnish
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. On a sheet pan drizzle the potato wedges with olive oil, salt and pepper then roast them at 400F til golden brown, then set aside.
  2. In an oven proof skillet drizzled with olive oil season the chops with salt and pepper and brown on both sides until almost done cooking, remove and set aside.
  3. In the same oven proof skillet add a drizzle of olive oil then add all the garlic and saute until lightly golden and starts to smell.
  4. Pour in the broth, then the wine, turn up the flame and let it reduce a bit.
  5. Add the lemon juice and oregano then whisk in the butter to make it glossy and thickened, if you need a little more butter go ahead.
  6. Place the chops into the sauce along with the meat juices, spooning that sauce all around.
  7. Arrange the potato wedges in the pan as well as the peas and lemon wedges.
  8. Simmer everything together making sure pork chops are done with a meat thermometer.
  9. I like to finish mine off under the broiler to give the whole dish a nice golden finishing color.
  10. Garnish with the chopped parsley.

 

 

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Making Marinara From Scratch

making marinara

Marinara is often called The Mother of Italian Red Sauces and I can see why. Marinara can be the base for so many dishes, think lasagna, stuffed shells, manicotti, meatballs, eggplant and chicken parmigiana, eggs in purgatory, dipping sauce for fried veggies, pizza, seafood stews, I can go on and on.

Marinara can be slightly altered to create other sauces such as arrabiatta, roasted red pepper and vodka just to name a few. Needless to say marinara is an important staple in any kitchen.

If you’ve never made your own now is the time to start. There are so many ways to make marinara and each family has their own special way, this is mine. You won’t find any butter and onions in mine, no wine, meat or tomato paste but you’ll always find fresh basil and garlic.

saute garlic

Over the years I’ve used many different brands of tomatoes, some have come and gone but the thing that is consistent is that I always use the San Marzano variety, specifically the cans that are stamped with the D.O.P. ( Protected designation of origin ).

D.O.P. Certification guarantees that a tomato is of the San Marzano variety, and the taste in my opinion is far superior than other canned tomatoes. Smooth with no acidity, pronounced flavor, dense with fewer seeds and slightly sweet, you’ll never need to add any sugar to your sauce.

When you use quality ingredients all your dishes will be superior tasting with little effort, and you just can’t get that from a jar. In my opinion they are well worth the higher price tag.

whole tomatoes

Look how thick and dense those tomatoes are!

immersion blender

Making your own marinara really takes no time at all, it’s quick and easy to make and you definitely won’t find that fresh taste in any store bought jar. You can make it ahead of time, it’s freezer friendly and you can double or  even triple the recipe if need be.

simmering sauce

There’s nothing like the smell of homemade marinara simmering on the stove.

large canned tomatoes

If you’re making a large amount look for those big cans which are around six pounds, I find they’re usually a pretty good price and perfect for making big amounts before the holidays and special occasions.

large pot of sauce

Just make sure you have a big enough pot!

cooking with kidsfreezer ready

Quart containers that you can purchase that are  food safe and freezer friendly are perfect for storing your surplus of sauce if you’re making a lot.

empty pot

Good to the last drop!

pasta girl

Making your own marinara is great to have on hand for a quick dinner, when unexpected company stops by or when your grandchild has a taste for some pasta with YOUR sauce. It’s like money in the bank!

Making Marinara From Scratch
 
There are many different versions of homemade marinara, this is my family favorite.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 - 28 oz. cans of San Marzano whole tomatoes with the D.O.P. stamp on the can
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 3 large fresh cloves of garlic per can ( 9) crushed ( please don't use bottled garlic!)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt per can (3)
  • pepper to taste
  • a generous handful of fresh basil, plus extra
Instructions
  1. Add your oil to a heavy bottomed pot.
  2. Toss in the. crushed garlic and cook on medium until you start to smell it and it's very lightly golden, if it burns start over.
  3. Pour in the whole tomatoes.
  4. Take an immersion blender and mix until smooth, the immersion blender will infuse all the garlic pieces into the sauce that were crushed.
  5. Toss in the generous bunch of basil and submerge it into the sauce.
  6. Simmer low for 1 to 1½ hours.
  7. NOTE;
  8. If you want your sauce a little thicker I sometimes add half a bottle of passata which is a strained tomato puree, readily available in most stores. Never use paste for this.
  9. When sauce is finished, remove basil bunch inside and discard.
  10. To finish add in some torn fresh basil leaves.
  11. NOTE:
  12. You can double, triple this recipe and you can freeze your marinara for up to 2 months. It freezes well.
  13. This recipe makes 3-4 quarts depending if you use a bottle of passata.

 

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