I guess you could tell from the radio silence that something major was up. Well, I am more than elated to tell you that my little son has been born, along with two very proud parents. He came into the world calmly and peacefully at home, in the kitchen of all places. Can you believe that?! Although we had planned to be here, we never imagined that the great event would take place in that particular room. It certainly was meant to be – it’s where all the magic seems to happen in this house.
When I was a little girl, of no more than seven, I used to walk around with a pillow under my t-shirt pretending to be pregnant. Suffice to say that I always knew that I wanted to be a mother (and that I thoroughly freaked out my parents), and here I am now, on the “other side” as it were. It feels surreal to look down at this perfect little person and know that we will be connected forever. My heart is bursting.
However, I cannot even tell you how difficult it’s been to find just a few hours to write this post, but then again, duh (cue laughter from every parent reading this). I think my old work-a-holic brain and my new mama brain need to have a serious chat and sort some things out. Between trying to write a cookbook, keeping up with the blog, and taking care of an infant ‘round the clock (sleep? Ha!) I may just have to lower my expectations. Got any advice on that one? Sure. Get back to me when you can.
I had a lot of help the past few weeks with my husband on paternity leave and my mom visiting from Canada, but since both have left, I will say that these little Spaghetti Squash Baby Cakes have saved me. I made a large batch right after giving birth, stored the cooked ones in the freezer and take out a couple at lunch when I have absolutely no time to make anything half decent. I actually discovered that I can just pop them in my toaster! Brilliant. With a simple salad and a slice of hearty bread, it’s a really lovely little meal that makes me feel nourished and normal (well, somewhat).
Full-Power Winter Squash Spaghetti squash is a powerhouse veggie. Unlike summer squash (zucchini, crookneck, pattypan), winter squash (spaghetti, butternut, acorn) has had a lot more time to develop and pump itself full of vitamins and minerals throughout its lengthy life on the stem. We’re talking oodles more vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and even some extra dietary fiber thrown in just for kicks. This combination of nutrients spells good news for asthma sufferers, those with heart disease, elevated cholesterol, or inflammatory conditions such a rheumatoid and osteoarthritis.
The other bonus? Nature designed summer squash to be rather delicate, with a high water content for those hot summer days when we need a cool down. Naturally, their shelf life is rather short during our abundant harvest season when produce is plentiful. On the flip side, winter squash has a tough outer skin and lower water content, which allows it to be stored for a very long time – some varieties up to six months. This means that we can keep these vitamin bombs around for a long time after the first frost to provide our bodies with the nutrition we need to see us through the long months of winter when there is nothing fresh in sight. Put that in your oven and roast it!
Spaghetti Squash Baby Cakes are savory and satisfying, deliciously moist with a little crunch around the edges. I added some salty sheep cheese because I love it combined with the sweetness of the squash, but you could perhaps use nutritional yeast instead. I wish I could say I’d made a totally vegan version of these, but I am craving eggs like crazy lately so I used one in the recipe. I cannot guarantee the effectiveness of chia or flax gel holding these puppies together, so I would suggest a vegan egg replacer if you want to go that route.
The real gourmet addition to this dish is the crispy fried sage; one of those incredibly simple delights that shocks you with flavour. I also love the little bit of crunch it imparts, adding another texture to the somewhat soft and creamy cakes. The sage needs to be cooked “to order” so don’t fry it all if you’re planning on storing leftovers in the freezer. You can also skip the fried sage altogether, but I highly recommend it. It’s a very rewarding little supplement, as you’ll see how something that is so easy to make can elevate a dish to great new heights. Fried sage is also delicious on pasta, risotto, gnocchi, quinoa, eggs, and soup.
Spaghetti Squash Baby Cakes with Crispy Sage Makes 15-20 small patties
Ingredients 1 medium spaghetti squash (approx. 1kg / 2.2 lbs) 1 cup / 100g rolled oats, ground into flour (or use oat flour) 4 cloves garlic 1 green onion, with green tops 1 tsp. sea salt ½ tsp. cracked black pepper 2 ½ oz. / 75g Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (substitute ¼ cup nutritional yeast) 1 organic egg, beaten 1 bunch sage, about 30 large leaves, divided
Directions 1. Preheat oven to 400°F / 200°C. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Rub with a little ghee or coconut oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in the oven, cut side up and cook for 45 minutes or so, until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Using a fork, scrape out all flesh and place in a large sieve over the sink or a bowl to drain. 2. In a food processor, grind oats until you have a rough flour. Add 12 sage leaves, garlic, sat, pepper and pulse to combine. 3. Squeeze any remaining liquid out of the spaghetti squash. Place in a large bowl and add the oat mixture. Thinly slice the green onion into rings and add to bowl, along with the egg, and grated cheese. Fold to combine. A kind of dough should start to form as the ingredients come together. Take a small amount, roll into a ball and flatten into a patty shape – if the patty stays together they are ready. If they are too dry, add a little water, one tablespoon at a time until they hold. If they are too wet, add another handful of oats. Form all the cakes before you begin. 4. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a knob of coconut oil or ghee. When hot, add the cakes and cook until golden on one side, then flip. Alternatively, you can cook these in a 375°F / 190°C oven for approximately 10-15 minutes on each side. 5. To fry sage, heat a couple knobs of coconut oil or ghee (ghee is preferable) in a small saucepan. When hot, add 6-8 sage leaves at a time, fry for 10-15 seconds, transfer with a fork to paper towels, and sprinkle with sea salt immediately. 6. To serve, place a few squash cakes on the plate and garnish with fried sage leaves. Enjoy with roasted tomatoes and a simple massaged kale salad. Freeze leftover cooked cakes and heat to enjoy.
To roast tomatoes, drizzle with a little coconut oil or ghee and place on the same baking sheet as the spaghetti squash. The tomatoes will cook faster than the squash, so keep and eye on them. Remove from oven when blistered.
To make the kale salad, massage finely chopped kale with lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt until tender. Add some toasted seeds, slivered red onion and vegetables of choice.
Thank you to everyone who commented on the last post – your words of love and encouragement fuelled me through my last days of pregnancy and surely made their way to the heart of my little boy. We are all settling into our new lives, and soaking it in as much as our sleepy minds will allow. I look forward to sharing more stories and recipes from my kitchen as we bump our way along and find the path that will feed our new family. I hope you’ll join me on the journey.