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. 😉
Nothing says spring like fresh local asparagus. The season is about done here and the grocery store stock later on will not be as tender, probably because it’s picked too early wherever it comes from. Our local asparagus, even when the stalks look too thick, is always tender and the taste is incomparable. I wanted something grand to pair with the asparagus and the large Louisiana shrimp at Wegman’s was just the right item.
Everything but the orzo was grilled, then it was all combined at the last minute. Cooking the orzo in chicken stock created it’s own sauce, so it was really easy. I added one diced canned San Marzano tomato, some fresh garlic, and parsley to the stock as it was simmering to round out the flavors.
Grilled Shrimp and Spring Orzo
MARINATE THE SHRIMP
- 1 1/2 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
- 1 tablespoon grated or roasted garlic
- 2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Mix all marinade ingredients and add to the shrimp in a large resealable bag. Toss to coat and refrigerate for a couple of hours. Just before grilling the shrimp, thread onto skewers. I don’t add salt until the shrimp are on the skewers ready to grill.
Set up your grill for about 350°-400°; I used 60 charcoal briquettes, turning them out of the chimney into the center of the grill.
- 2 large orange, red, or yellow bell peppers, halved and seeded
- 2 medium onions, cut in thick slices
- 1 lb or more asparagus stalks, trimming if necessary. I only added the 3″ tips to my dish, saving the grilled ends for other uses during the week.
- extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on vegetables
- salt & pepper
- Grill all the vegetables in stages, or as they fit on your grill. Set each aside until all are finished. I peeled my peppers when they were done.
- Asparagus tips: Place crosswise on the grill grate over direct heat, turning as needed to get some char on all sides, but not so much that they are burnt. then move them to the outer sides of the grill to continue cooking over indirect heat until done. I came this close to not dropping any through the grate until I was taking them off:
- Prepare the orzo before you grill the shrimp. Grill the shrimp at the last minute and place over the top of the pasta. Grill over direct heat just until done, only a few minutes on each side until all the shrimp are pink.
PREPARE THE ORZO
- 8 oz whole wheat orzo
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2-1 cup water
- 1 chopped canned plum tomato
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon grated or roasted garlic
Bring all the ingredients to a low boil, stirring often so the orzo doesn’t stick to the pan, then simmer for about ten minutes or until the orzo is tender. Stir in the chopped grilled vegetables, then top with the grilled shrimp.
You can enjoy baby back ribs without the barbecue grill and all the sugary barbecue sauces any time of year. After all, it’s just pork 🐖. Think of some of your favorite ways to cook a pork roast or chops, and transfer those flavors to ribs.
I’m cooking mine in a slow cooker with a wet rub of garlic, thyme, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Cooked on a bed of onions and a little chicken stock, they will make a savory dish, served with herbed rice and a vegetable.
Unless I’m making stock or cooking dried beans, my favorite way to use the slow cooker is on high for about 5-6 hours. I find that to be best for achieving results similar to roasting in the oven. You don’t need lots of liquid—sometimes none at all—and I only used 1/2 cup of chicken stock in this dish, mostly to keep the caramelizing onions from drying out, and to provide a little steam to keep the meat moist.
Unlike with barbecued ribs, I like to serve these in larger pieces, about half a rack for one person. It looks pretty impressive on the plate, not at all like summer picnic fare.
Slow Cooker Savory Ribs for Two
- 1 rack baby back ribs, about 3 lbs or smaller, back membrane removed
- 2-3 medium onions, thickly sliced
- 1/2 cup chicken stock
- wet rub:
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or the herb of your choice)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons mashed or grated garlic
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (enough to mix with dry ingredients and still be spreadable)
- Scatter sliced onions over bottom of slow cooker.
- Pour in chicken stock.
- Arrange ribs, probably cut into halves to fit, over onions.
- Cover ribs with wet rub.
- Cook on high for 5 hours.
- Life carefully for serving, as they will want to fall apart.
Quick, because I’m using pork tenderloins instead of a cut that benefits from long cooking, like a pork shoulder. In fact, after browning the tenderloin cubes, You only add them to the sauce at the last minute before serving.
One of my freezer packs of tomato sauce was marked “tomato-pepper” because one day I had a bunch of bell peppers harvested on the same day as some tomatoes. So, instead of roasting the tomatoes with carrots and onion and garlic, I roasted them with the peppers and it all went into the blender. I’ve been waiting for the right recipe to use them. You will have a chunkier sauce if you are using fresh chopped peppers in your sauce. I’m also going to add two chopped red poblanos which may add a little zing (who ever really knows about poblanos?), and I’m marinating the pork cubes in smoked paprika for a smoky pepper taste. Our ripened poblanos turned a dark purplish-red; maybe you can pick those out in the image of roasted peppers from one of my roasting days:
Can you pick out the red ones?
Quick Pork and Pepper Ragout
- 1 1/2 to 2 lbs pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut in half inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 3-4 slices thick-sliced bacon, browned and crumbled, fat reserved (I cook mine in the oven)
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 cup diced onion
- about 2 cups combination of peppers of your choice: I had about 4 bell peppers in my sauce (blended) and added 2 chopped roasted red poblanos
- 2-3 large cloves of garlic, minced, grated, or pressed
- 2- 3 cups tomato sauce or mixture of tomato paste and stock or fresh tomatoes
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1/2 pound penne pasta, cooked according to package directions.
- Coat pork cubes in marinade and refrigerate for at least a half hour or longer. Mine sat for about 4 hours. I did not add the garlic to the marinade, because I didn’t want it to burn in the browning of the meat.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add two tablespoons reserved bacon fat and bring to sizzling. Add marinated pork and brown on all sides. You will probably need to cook the meat in 2-3 batches so the cubes don’t touch and create a gray, watery mess. Set browned pork aside.
- Add onion, carrots, peppers and garlic to hot pan. Stir until beginning to wilt, then add your tomato sauce. Cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until carrots are tender.
- Stir in pork cubes and heat for just a few minutes.
- Serve over pasta; top with crumbled bacon.
If my husband weren’t lactose intolerant, I would stir in 1/4 cup sour cream at the end. Instead, I’m serving it on the side.