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Saturday, February 26, 2011


Nothing promotes lazy couch time better than roasting meats and vegetables. With a little prep work, they practically cook themselves.

A couple of nights ago, I did a riff on veal parmesan using leftover stuffed pork tenderloin with roasted tomato sauce served over roasted spaghetti squash.

I sliced a few roma tomatoes into quarters and tossed them into a bowl with whole grape tomatoes, sliced onions, smahed garlic cloves, salt, cracked pepper, and olive oil.  After giving them a good toss, I spread them on a foiled baking sheet and roasted them at 350 degrees until caramelized and broken down.  When they cooled a bit, I spooned the roasted vegetables along with the roasting juices into a blender with 1 cup of chicken stock and pureed the mix into a smooth tomato sauce before pouring it into a sauce pan. After seasoning it with dried oregano and dried marjoram, I  simmered it over a low flame until thickened and set it aside.

I adore veal parmesan.  I've probably concocted hundreds of variations  using veal and chicken. I had neither, so I revisited the laborious stuffed pork tenderloin from a few nights ago.  Thankfully, I had carefully double-wrapped the untouched half which kept it moist and juicy. After pulling it from the refrigerator, I removed the kitchen twine and sliced the rolled stuffed pork tenderloin into 1/2 inch rounds. After dredging the pork pinwheels in seasoned flour, egg wash, and fresh parsley/parmesan-studded panko bread crumbs, I slid them into the refrigerator to set.

Wine? Check.  Back to the couch.

I halved a medium sized spaghetti squash, scooped out the seeds, and placed the squash halves cut side down in a glass baking dish.  With the oven still burning at 350 degrees from the roasted tomatoes, I poured a cup of water into the squash baking dish and slid it into the oven to roast for 35 minutes or until a knife could easily pierce the skin.

While the squash roasted, I got a cast iron skillet smoking hot and added a few tablespoons of olive oil.  After turning the heat down to medium, I sauteed the breaded pork tenderloin medallions until deeply browned and crispy.  I carefully placed them onto a sheet pan, topping them with  roasted tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese before sliding them into the oven with the spaghetti squash.

I pulled the squash from the oven and allowed  it to cool briefly.  Using a fork, I scraped the squash from stem to bottom, creating angelic strands of squash spaghetti.  After a quick toss with unsalted butter, I swirled the spaghetti  onto our plates and nestled the parmesan pork bundles into the buttery faux pasta. After spooning extra sauce into small ramekins, I showered our plates with fresh parsley and additional parmesan cheese. A final fried basil leaf gilded the lily.

The roasted tomato sauce was decadent and luxurious. Roasting pulled every bit of sweetness from the tomatoes, garlic, and caramelized onions. The spaghetti squash was magnificant, stealing our culinary hearts with its light, bright, and fantastic biting texture.  It snapped  when bitten into, holding its own under the rich velvety sauce. We were giddy, pulling forkfuls of squash  from our plates, raising them over our leaned-back heads, and lowering them into our mouths.  Every bite savored.

Spaghetti squash is fascinating. It transforms when roasted, turning from a hunk of squash into delicate 
strands of translucent squash pasta. A beautiful thing.
I usually overlook it when shopping for winter squash, choosing acorn or butternut squash instead.

Not anymore.

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