Happy June! I’ve always loved June. Even though it’s not technically the beginning of summer, it’s definitely the beginning of summer. The weather finally gets warmer, the days get longer and students everywhere are released for three months of freedom.
Not to totally kill the mood, but I just realized I no longer get any of those perks. Yes the days get warmer here in Arizona, but it’s much warmer. Like the depths of hell warmer. Today it stayed 105 degrees until the sun set, and this is only the beginning, folks. Things are about to get a lot worse. We also don’t practice daylight savings time in Arizona, so while the days naturally get a little longer, it doesn’t stay light out until 9:00 like it did back in Iowa. And of course, the school thing. I think it’s one of the cruelest tricks we play on humanity. We are raised learning that if you work hard all year, you get to play hard all summer. Then after completing years of hard work at various schools we are rewarded a full-time desk job with two weeks off, if your lucky. But I do have to admit having a well-paying job with a 401k is nothing to complain about, so I will trudge to the office in this triple-digit heat and soak in all the air conditioning I don’t have to pay for that I can.
When I’m not busy working, I tend to fill my summer stomach with plenty of chilled cocktails, Naked Juice pops from my Zoku and salads, lots of lunchtime salads. I love a good salad, but I get bored with them quickly and this Spaghetti Squash marinara is the perfect solution. It’s all the flavorful and melted, creamy goodness of comfort food with the light, refreshing quality of a salad stirred up into one dish. I can’t take credit for this creation, I first had it at one of my favorite restaurant’s here in the valley, True Food Kitchen. The menu is based off of Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet, which is heavily produced based, so you know this dish is loaded up with the colorful, hydrating veggies you would find in a summer salad. I loved it so much in the restaurant, I decided to create my own version at home.
- ½ spaghetti squash
- 1 small zucchini
- ½ medium onion
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 cups marinara sauce
- ½ cup shredded mozzarella
- Fresh basil
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the spaghetti squash in half and remove the inner guts and seeds.
- Season the inside flesh of the spaghetti squash with salt and pepper and place cut side down in a baking dish filled with one inch of water. Bake for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile slice the onion and zucchini into very thin, noodle-like slices (if possible use a julienne or a spiral slicer. I use a peeler to slice wide zucchini noodles, and then slice them into thinner noodles using my chef's knife).
- When the spaghetti squash is tender, run a fork through the inside flesh creating noodle-like strands.
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, then add the squash, zucchini, onion and garlic until tender. Add the marinara sauce and cook until heated through.
- Transfer the mixture into two large or four small ramekins.
- Cover the top of each ramekin with the cheese and place under the broiler just until brown and bubbly. Top with the fresh basil and serve.
This recipe works great as a main for two, or can be served for four as a side next to whatever you have coming off the grill (another thing I no longer have since moving to Arizona. Oh how I miss Midwest summers, but never, ever Midwest winters. Worth it).