Two-course All-vegetable Meal

DINNER TONIGHT

Dinner: Spaghetti squash doubles for pasta, and roasted potato capped with cheese makes a fine opener.

March 03, 2002|By William Rice | William Rice,Special to the Sun

Here's an all-vegetable, two-course meal. If you've never experienced the fun of creating spaghetti-like strands by pulling apart the aptly named spaghetti squash, you are in for a treat. Mushrooms cooked with tomato, garlic, herbs and a dash of ground red pepper make a full-flavored, satisfying topping for the squash.

Furthermore, having a "pasta" without flour or eggs means we can treat ourselves to a starchy first course. The addition of the sweet-sour vinegar reduction and dabs of blue cheese takes our potato to a whole new level of taste. This is an adaptation of a recipe developed by New York City chef Bobby Flay.

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Roasted Potato With Blue Cheese and Sherry Sauce

Spaghetti Squash With Tomato-Mushroom Sauce

Italian bread

Chianti Classico

Cookies and coffee;

milk or hot chocolate for the kids

TIME-SAVING TIPS

* The trick in preparing this vegetarian meal with elan lies in the sequence of preparation. Begin by cooking the spaghetti squash and heating the oven. While the squash steams, do the vinegar-honey syrup for the potato, slice the potato and combine the spices, herb, salt, pepper and oil in a bowl. Toss the potato slices with the spice mixture.

* Next, prepare the tomato-mushroom sauce. As the sauce cooks, pull apart the spaghetti squash and place it in a microwave-proof dish. Arrange the potato slices on the baking sheet and roast them. Cover the sauce and keep warm. Just before, or just after, eating the potato, reheat the spaghetti squash and serve.

William Rice is a writer for the Chicago Tribune.

Roasted Potato With Blue Cheese and Sherry Sauce

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 12 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

1/2 cup sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

1 pound yellow potatoes

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon each: paprika, ground cumin

salt, freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons soft blue cheese, Cabrales preferred

Pour vinegar into a small saucepan; heat to a boil. Cook until reduced to about 1 tablespoon. Add honey; stir until it dissolves. Set aside.

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Peel the potatoes, if you like. Cut crosswise into 1 / 8 -inch slices; spread on a nonstick baking sheet. Combine thyme, paprika, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in olive oil. Brush potatoes with this mixture. Bake until golden, about 12 minutes. Divide potato slices between 2 plates. Place a dab of cheese in the center of each slice; sprinkle vinegar glaze on top.

Nutritional information per serving: 320 calories, 26 percent of calories from fat, 10 grams fat, 2.6 grams saturated fat, 6 milligrams cholesterol, 54 grams carbohydrate, 6 grams protein, 140 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

Spaghetti Squash With Tomato-Mushroom Sauce

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

1 small spaghetti squash, about 1 1/2 pounds

salt, freshly ground pepper

2 teaspoons butter

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large portobello mushrooms, cleaned, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 large, ripe tomatoes, seeded, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil

1 1/2 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

pinch ground red pepper or more to taste

1/3 cup vegetable broth or water

grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 2 inches of water to a boil in a casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Cut squash in half; remove seeds. Cut in half again. Place a rack in the casserole. Place squash on rack; cover. Steam until squash yields when pressed with a finger, about 25 minutes. Remove squash; let cool slightly. Pull squash flesh away from the skin with a fork into a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with butter.

Meanwhile, cook onion in oil in a skillet over medium heat until translucent, 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms; cook, stirring often, until they soften, 4 minutes. Add tomato, garlic, basil, thyme, red pepper, broth, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 8 to 10 minutes, but do not allow mixture to become dry.

Place shredded squash in a microwave-proof dish. Cover with plastic wrap and reheat in a microwave oven on high 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

Remove wrap; toss and portion onto plates. Spoon hot sauce atop squash. Top with Parmesan.

Nutritional information per serving: 265 calories, 38 percent of calories from fat, 12 grams fat, 3.6 grams saturated fat, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 38 grams carbohydrate, 7 grams protein, 280 milligrams sodium, 9 grams fiber.

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