Yesterday was just another hamburger day, but the sides made it more than ordinary—roasted spaghetti squash and onion straws. Usually I roast this kind of squash in halves, cut side down in an inch of water for a half hour, then flipped and brushed with melted butter to roast and brown for another half hour. I scoop out the strands of flesh and add a little more butter. Yum. I didn’t see why I couldn’t roast the squash more like other veggies, though, peeled and cut in chunks, tossed with olive oil. And then I had half the sheet pan empty, so I cut three onions into straws and tossed them with olive oil, too. Kind of a lazy person’s version of caramelized onions, without all the stirring—they topped my smashed burgers. I roughly mashed the squash into what I think I’ll call a rustic mash and drizzled over it a little melted butter. 👍 It was definitely a more-than-ordinary burger day.
👉 I used an odd photo filter here—Sparta—and it lives up to its name, making the food look a little spartan. 🤔 In reality, the squash was a little more orange-yellow and the onions white. Use your imagination.
Roasted Spaghetti Squash and Onion Straws
Preheat oven to 350-375º; line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. I often roast vegetables, like potatoes, at a higher temperature, so it’s your call, but I didn’t want the onions to incinerate before the squash was done.
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 2-3 cups finely sliced yellow onions
- olive oil, for roasting
- Optional: melted butter, for serving with squash
- Peel the squash, making sure to cut down to the yellow flesh. The outer skin has some long tough fibers that you can see as you peel, but you don’t need to cut off much of the skin.
- Cut the ends off and then cut the squash in half. Scoop out and discard the seeds, or save to roast. Cut the remaining flesh into 1″ cubes.
- Toss in a bowl with olive oil to coat. Spread out on sheet pan. Mine only took up half the pan.
- Peel onions and cut in half lengthwise (basically, you’re cutting the rings in half). Slice the halves thinly and separate with your fingers.
- Toss the onions in a bowl with olive oil to coat. Spread out on the remaining half of the sheet pan.
- Sprinkle all with coarse salt and pepper.
- Roast for about 45 minutes, or until the squash is tender. You can periodically toss the onions to distribute the ones on the edges that are likely to burn, although I expect a little char on roasted vegetables.
- Serve the onions on your burgers.
- Coarsely mash the squash, leaving some chunks. Drizzle some melted butter over the squash for decadence. 😉
Lots of substitutions can be made to make this recipe your own. Oven-roasted plum tomatoes from last summer’s garden were the highlight in my sauce. They keep well in the freezer and, when thawed, are still moist and lightly coated with olive oil. I ate one, of course, and it still had that fresh tomato taste, concentrated from the roasting.
This sauce is thicker and has a more concentrated tomato flavor than the Quick, Light Pizza Sauce I made a year ago.
Quick Blender Pizza Sauce
- 1 cup oven roasted or sun-dried plum tomatoes ( I used 15 tomato halves)
- 5-6 cloves or about 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 3 -4 canned peeled plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup juice from tomato can—enough to bring to consistency of a thick sauce
Place all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth, adding more tomato juice as needed.
I used the sauce on this pizza: Pizza Day One and Day Two—following the directions for the dough, but using red sauce instead of white. Since I wrote those posts, I acquired cast iron skillets (12″ and 8″) and have been happily making my pizzas in them.
A snowy cold January Sunday seemed like a good day to have the oven on for eight hours.
I usually make pulled pork in a slow-cooker (about 5-6 hours on high), but was in the mood for some crispy pork to put in wraps with a little sweet potato hash. I followed this recipe from Serious Eats, which also allowed me to use that nice big baking sheet and rack that I used for the Thanksgiving spatchcocked turkey, and the recipe couldn’t be any simpler to follow—just an oven temperature + a length of time + a little salt and pepper. Unlike the original recipe, I used the top or butt portion of the shoulder, not the picnic portion with the shank bone, so I’m guessing my 8 lb shoulder, with just a blade bone, had more meat on it. Neither did I use a shoulder with the skin attached, which I don’t really want, but it had a good fat cap that turned out nice and crispy by the end of the cooking time.
I wanted something different than the common barbecue sauces, and decided on some oven-roasted sweet potato hash. It was a good call.
I did make a drizzling sauce of chipotles in adobo sauce whizzed up in the blender with honey and a little olive oil. Just a little of that goes a long way, but it was an interesting flavor alongside the sweet potatoes. Be sure to get a close up view of the roasted pork below and notice how much leftover pork we have!
Roasting pan and rack
You can see the blade bone here
Crispy and tender
Another nice view
Wrapped with sweet potatoes
Some people get two or three
I still have all this leftover!
Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder and Sweet Potato Hash
Preheat oven to 250°; place a sheet of parchment paper over rack on rimmed baking pan.
- 1 pork shoulder, about 8 lbs, either the butt or picnic cut will do; get one with the skin on if you like that
- salt and pepper
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 medium onions, halved then sliced
- olive oil for tossing vegetables
- Optional: your favorite herbs for tossing vegetables
- Optional: tortillas, shredded lettuce, sauce
- Preheat oven at around 7:30 A.M.
- Salt and pepper the roast all over and place roast on parchment on roasting rack.
- Place roast in oven at 8:00 A.M. and set timer for 8 hours. It will be done at 4:00 P.M.
- Remove roast and loosely cover with foil while you make the potatoes.
- Raise oven temperature to 400°; meanwhile toss diced potatoes and onion with olive oil to coat. Add herbs if desired.
- Spread potatoes and onions on parchment-lined baking pan and sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until browned and beginning to get crispy.
- Alternatively you could cook the hash in a cast iron skillet.
- Shred the meat with forks, trying not to eat all the crispy edges yourself.
- Pile shredded meat, potatoes, and some shredded lettuce in the tortillas of your choice. Good as is or with some drizzling sauce.
Drizzling sauce (hot): In a blender pulse until smooth, 1 small can chipotles in adobo sauce, 2-3 tablespoons honey, 2 teaspoons olive oil. You can adjust taste with salt and a splash of vinegar—I did.
How to make corned beef reminiscent of pastrami—and really tasty—in a slow cooker
This probably doesn’t compare to the pastrami at your favorite deli, but I was looking for something different to do with a corned beef brisket flat. The whole boiled dinner with cabbage and potatoes doesn’t do it for me, even though I am significantly Irish in my ancestry. Options for what else to do with corned beef are slim on the web. Surprisingly, a lot of people try to make it into pastrami, most with drawn out processes of wrapping in multiple layers of foil and slow cooking in the oven, refrigerating, and then broiling for browning—way more work than I had in mind—and that doesn’t even include smoking, which is a necessary step for authentic pastrami. But it’s December. It’s snowy and overcast. I just want to use the slow cooker.
So, I would say that what I made is reminiscent of pastrami. I ground up the spice packet that came with the corned beef and added those spices (whatever they are) to others that are common to most pastrami recipes—smoked paprika, garlic, lots and lots of black pepper, white pepper, ground mustard, and chipotle powder (for a little more smoke). Mixed with olive oil, the resulting wet rub is brushed over all sides of the corned beef, and then the whole thing is cooked on high in the slow cooker (probably around 250°) for 6 hours. I did that early enough to be able to refrigerate it for a while before trying to slice it.
We did eat it in sandwiches, but I’m not going to say how we ate it, because I don’t want to offend you finicky purists who would banish me to deli hell for not using rye bread and mustard. Why would I try to please some mythical deli owner instead of our own palates, anyway? I would eat the traditional sandwich, but my husband would never touch rye bread nor mustard if he were starving. I consider it a great success that I trained him to eat sauerkraut on New Year’s Day and like it.
Fabulous change of pace for the old corned beef brisket. Tomorrow, I think I’m going to eat some in flat bread with roasted peppers.
Rub all over corned beef…
Walk away for 6 hours
Slow Cooker Pastrami, Sort Of
- 4 lbs corned beef brisket flat with spice packet (I guess you could use the point as well)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon crushed garlic or garlic paste
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 4 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper (really)
- 1/2 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle
- Rinse corned beef and pat dry. Place in slow cooker.
- Grind contents of spice packet that came with the corned beef in a spice grinder or blender. Surprisingly, the contents of that packet were not listed on the package. Here are some ideas of what could be in the packet.
- Add the ground spice packet to the rest of the ingredients. Brush or rub the wet rub all over the corned beef in the slow cooker. Make sure the fat side is up when you are done.
- Close the cooker and cook on high for 6 hours. Remove the meat to a platter and cool for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
- Slice thinly or however you prefer.
Even if it’s not authentic pastrami, the flavor is there and it’s a nice change from corned beef.