Veggie Recipes: Italian Style Eggplant & Spaghetti Squash

Veggie Recipes: Italian Style Eggplant & Spaghetti Squash

Just a couple weeks ago, the farms up here in Vermont were producing eggplant like crazy and just beginning their spaghetti squash harvest. I love spaghetti squash and how easy it is to make. I also love that it gives me a chance to really splurge on a pasta type dish, because without the actual pasta, I don’t have to worry about the carbs, calories, or sodium. It was also a chance to use some of our homemade tomato sauce. I decided to put together a meal that was 95% Italian. The other 5% comes from the Vermont cheddar cheese I ended up adding instead of mozzarella only because I didn’t have any on hand. It didn’t matter, the end result was delicious.

Italian Style Eggplant with Pan Fried Polenta and Spaghetti Squash

For the Eggplant Dish:

1 Eggplant, inch slices

Cheese to taste

Basil

Tomato Sauce

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Place eggplants slices in a small baking pan. Add basil, any Italian spices you may want to add, tomato sauce, and cheese on each layer that you may have.

3. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Can bake concurrent with spaghetti squash.

For the Spaghetti Squash Dish:

1 Spaghetti squash

Tomato Sauce

Cheese to taste

1. Slice the squash in half long ways and scoop out the insides with a spoon (scrape the seeds and easy stuff out until you are scraping against the harder inside).

2. Although not necessary, you can sprinkle some pepper on the inside for flavoring.

3. Put a half inch of water in the baking pan.

4. Place the squash halves, open side down, on the pan and cook in 375 degrees for about 30-35 minutes. You should be able to stick a fork through the outside when it is done.

5. Take the squash out and put it right side up. Now, take a fork and just scrape it against the sides “fluffing” the spaghetti like pieces. There is a lot more there than you think! You should be able to scrape them off until you reach the skin.

7. After you have scraped all of the squash into spaghetti, dress it with tomato sauce and cheese. Place back in the oven, on broil, for about a minute or two.

For the Pan Fried Polenta:

1 Roll of Polenta

Pan fried polenta is an amazing side to any dish because it is crispy and delicious.

1. Cut polenta in thick slices, 1-2 inches thick.

2. Put a thin layer of EVO in a pan and place it on a medium heat.

3. Place the polenta in the pan. Season with Italian seasonings if you wish.

4. Sear on each side for approximately 10-15 minutes. The polenta will become smaller, thinner, and crispier. Keep checking it to make sure it does not stick to the bottom. Add more oil as necessary, but do not drown in oil or you will get soggy polenta.

All of these parts of the dish are very simple and easy to play around with, so don’t feel like you have to follow this recipe to strictly.

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Weekend Sabbatical: Lowell, Massachusetts for the Afternoon

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Historical Mill District from the river

Last weekend, last minute, we decided to attend the Stout Festival at the Armsby Abbey in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Although we have enjoyed New England and the Boston area for four years now, we never actually spent any time in Worcester. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out both a city we haven’t enjoyed yet and one of the top rated beer bars in the world. And, yes, I did say world.

From Vermont, we usually take 89 south most of the way through Vermont and Massachusetts until we hit 93 south through Boston. This brings us through Lowell, MA which we hadn’t stopped at for a few years. Lowell is an old manufacturing center, mostly within the business of textiles. It is now, surprisingly, the four largest city in the state. The town is no longer centered on textile mills when it comes to the market, but the mills are still a major part of the town’s geography. In fact, much of the mill district has been restored, even becoming part of the Lowell National Historical Park.  Lowell is also the birthplace and burial place of Jack Kerouac, a well known novelist and poet of the beat generation.

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Upclose: Lowell Mill Equipment

We stopped for just a few hours, long enough to walk up and down the city streets, take in the old mill district, have some amazing lunch, and stop by Kerouac’s grave for the second time.

Highlights:

-History: You can learn a lot and get a better feel for the city if you take a moment to read the historical signs and outposts set up along the river, streets, and historical mill area. Having the mill as a backdrop to the city really allows you to envision it as it was in the 1800 and 1900’s.

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Jack’s Grave During Another Visit (Fall)

Jack Kerouac sites: Lowell is home to many important places in Jack’s early and later life. If you do some research before coming, you could stop by his childhood home, bars he frequented, parks he wrote in, and of course, where he is laid to rest.

-Culture and town life: When I hear of Lowell, I think of the average size Massachusetts town. However, Lowell is a city. Lowell is also a cultural hub, calling its home to many different ethnicities and cultures, evident by the different types of stores, churches, and clubs that call it home.

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Life Alive Wrap and Music

Before we left Lowell, we stopped by for music and lunch at Life Alive, located on Middle Street. This café calls a few different towns in Massachusetts home including Cambridge and Salem also.  There food is vegan and vegetarian, yet well known and delicious to all types of foodies. They infuse so much taste into every wrap, salad, and rice bowl, that it is hard to miss the meat. I heard this over and over from each meat eating foodie that stopped by. The atmosphere is also a lot of fun.