Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Classic Garden Spaghetti Meets "Cucurbita pepo L. var. turbinata".

Canned, dried, and overwintered( squash)produce from the garden

    It's still March and that means crockpots are still a viable form of cooking. As I was going to be gone all afternoon, it always proves to be a great solution for supper. 
    So, here goes the supper prep.  It was going to be the classic spaghetti sauce...with a twist.  (That ridged orange object on the right hand side should clue you in as to the twist!)
Yep, the classic ingredients of tomatoes, peppers, onion, garlic, herbs and some dried tomatoes.....along with this beauty!  I had a few of these left over from the winter and thought, why not add them to the mix?  After all, squash is full of beta carotene and has that sweet nutty flavor profile, and that would be great in my sauce.  Besides, it's an absolutely amazing way to add extra nutrients and fiber to the meal without the family being aware of its existence.  

Sounds a bit cruel I know to add mysterious vegetables to a seemingly traditional meal.  But, no problem here!  My family was very accustomed to my "padding" the nutritional profile of our dinners.  As long as it tasted good, they were very unconcerned.  How did I know it was going to taste okay?  Elementary, my dear Watson.  I knew it's sweet flavor would not only sweeten the sauce up a bit, but would also help to thicken it up.  So, I washed, dried, poked a few holes in it and micro'd it until a knife could be easily inserted.  

I then cut it in half, scooped out the seeds and then the pulp.  I added the pulp to a food processor and with a little sauce, I pureed it up to add back into the sauce.  Enter now one circa 1989 crockpot (notice the mauve and country blue flowers?)  Hey, this crockpot knows how to cook and why add to landfill when it does a perfectly good job? Plus, I must confess, I love crockpots and have a 4 quart AND a 7 quart size.  I would have more, but we would need to build an addition!  With all that being said, it was time to combine!
I also added some other garden goodies...dehydrated peppers and tomatoes.  These are also great to snack on as well~especially when you're hungry cooking. My own dried garden herbs were the last thing to add.

Oh, I couldn't forget my pre-made, homemade frozen meatballs as well as some rosemary and tarragon that I froze for just such an occasion. The tarragon is a bit of a secret to our sauce.  One day I noticed it as an ingredient to a bottled sauce we really liked (what we didn't like on the bottled sauce was all the sodium and syrups.) It really gave it a nice "sausage-y" flavor and we've used it all winter.  Good thing I have plenty more tarragon in the garden.
 Next, add some tomato paste, season with salt, pepper and sweeten to taste. Let it crockpot away for 4-5 hours so the cooker can do it's magic transformation cooking thing.
It all added up to one late night dinner that was rich, hearty and delicious!  And, if I may say so myself, secretly nutritious!!


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