Tag Archives: sauteed

Quick & Easy Julienned Zucchini and Yellow Squash with Thyme

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If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve come across at least one comment I’ve made about squash in general.  It’s something I didn’t learn to like until I was in my early twenties with two babies at home and a small garden that produced zucchini the size of battleships.  I became quite adept at figuring out what to do with those behemoths, and more importantly, our resources were meager, so being creative with squash became a fascination in general.

It seems like that was a few lifetimes ago, and since then, although I continue to learn about and experiment with different kinds of squash, I am always amazed to find how good it really is even with very little preparation.

When the friend I was visiting recently on my trip east graciously allowed me to prepare dinner my last night with her, she volunteered to make a veggie side dish which happened to be squash.  She used a julienne peeler tool I’ve had in my kitchen for several years and have been less than successful with to slice some zucchini she’d purchased from a roadside stand that day.

I’ve only recently tried spaghetti squash and love it, but this was so much more easy — no baking required!  And yes, it really did remind me of pasta if I need to say that.

Have you tried squash prepared this way before?

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Spicy Red Amaranth Stir-Fry

I don’t go to our farmer’s markets as much as I’d like, but when I do, I always seem to find something new to try.  I enjoy dark, green leafy veggies quite a bit, so I’m not a hard sell.  One vendor recently  noticed me admiring the beautiful magenta color at the center of the larger deep, green leaves lightly filling a bag.  “It’s red amaranth,” the young man told me, reaching for the bag I was focused on.  “Here, taste it.” And so I did.

Although somewhat like spinach in flavor, amaranth, or what some refer to as Chinese spinach, is more sturdy between my teeth as I chew on it, its flavor somewhat like fresh grass smells like if that makes any sense at all.  It’s not sweet, but not pungent, either, and leaves a pleasant, unbitter taste in my mouth.

But I thought amaranth was a grain — isn’t it?  And don’t I remember seeing annuals at the nursery with colorful plumes which also somehow reminded me of the tasty greens I was chewing on?

Evidently yes to all above — sort of.  It isn’t a true grain, but is referred to as a pseudo-grain.  Some varieties are cultivated for the leafy green vegetable, some for seeds to be used much like rice or corn are used. And although I did know that buckwheat and quinoa were very high plant protein sources, amaranth seeds are as well.  And, they lack gluten, so that makes them quite beneficial to those who are gluten intolerant.

Historically, amaranth was a staple of ancient Mesoamericans and has been enjoyed in Asia for centuries.  Why and how did our culture adapt to eating iceberg lettuce instead?  Evidently, amaranth became associated with religious rituals involving human sacrifice, so it was banned by the invading Spaniards who then came to North America.

So that explains how we ended up with ice berg lettuce.

This recipe spices things up a bit, perfect for lunch by itself or a dinner side.  Use spinach if you can’t find red amaranth.  Your body will thank you.

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Brussels Sprouts and Pistachios

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I've always loved Brussels sprouts.  I guess the fact that my mother didn't cook vegetables in general until they were soft and grey helped.  The Brussels sprouts we had on our plates were most often whole, frozen, then cooked in a bit of water for a short time before butter and salt were added.  No nonsense, and flavorful — if you're someone who enjoys a bit of a cabbage taste.

Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable and like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, and cabbage, are extremely good for you.  Research has shown that specific types of cancer are less prevalent in individuals who regularly eat cruciferous vegetables — or vegetables that contain sulphorous compounds, which contribute to their strong flavor.  I know that doesn't always encourage people to want to try them, but I believe that often, the reason people won't eat vegetables is because they've been prepared improperly, and they're not sure what they're supposed to taste like.

Recently, I received a variety of lovely nut and dried fruit products from Oh Nuts! to sample in recipes of my choice.  They sell an amazing variety of bulk items and gift products perfect for the holidays — whether you're cooking, or making gift baskets.  Their Shelled Raw Pistachios are a perfect compliment to sauteed Brussels sprouts.

What you can learn from this recipe is that sauteed Brussels sprouts have quite a nutty flavor — and not because of the pistachios!  If you're someone who's not thrilled about Brussels sprouts, this recipe will change your mind.  I know it.

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