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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom Ragout & Swiss Chard

20 minutes
Serves 4

Another super simple but tasty odd-and-ends dish into which you can put whatever vegetables you've got on hand. (Just add them in order of hardest to softest, like I've done below.) Spaghetti squash is mildly sweet and sort of lemony, so lemon juice and thyme work well; doesn't really need much else. Here's today's version.

1 spaghetti squash
2 tsp-1 tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 a large red bell pepper, diced
1/2 a large zucchini, diced
2 slices grilled eggplant (leftovers in my case, but you can also just dice a bit of fresh eggplant)
1/2 tsp dried thyme, or 1 tsp fresh
8 oz crimini (aka "baby bella") mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 large bunch swiss chard, ribs removed and cut into ribbons
juice of 1/2 a lemon
pinch of salt
black pepper to taste
nutritional yeast or Spike salt-free seasoning, optional

Wash and dry the spaghetti squash and prick a few times with a sharp knife. Lay it on a couple of paper towels and microwave it for 10-12 minutes, turning every 3-4 minutes, until the outer shell gives when you press it. (Press it with a towel-covered hand. It's hot!) Remove from microwave and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium low heat. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add diced pepper and saute another 2 minutes. Add zucchini and eggplant, saute another minute or two. Spread sliced mushrooms over the top of the saute and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Don't touch it for a minute or so, then add thyme and toss things around. Let mushrooms cook and release juices, another couple of minutes.

When all the vegetables are softened, pile the ribboned chard on top of them, squeeze lemon wedges over the greens, and cover the skillet with a large domed lid. (Borrow one from a soup pot or wok.) Allow greens to steam and wilt for a few minutes. Then toss them with the other veggies, using tongs. Add black pepper to taste, and check for seasoning. (I don't cook with much salt; you might want to add some.) There should be juices collecting from the veggies and greens in the bottom of the skillet. Turn the heat to low and keep the lid on so these don't evaporate.

Slice the partially cooled squash in half, lengthwise. (It's still hot inside. Tongs or a towel will help you hold it.) Gently rake out the seeds, but don't go too deep. Once seeds and seed pulp is removed, rake the flesh with a fork, forming spaghetti-like strands.

Place a bed of squash on a plate, top with greens and ragout, and pour some of the pan juice around the plate. Top with nutritional yeast, Spike, or chopped nuts.

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