To me, summer is as much about soaking up time with family as it is about soaking up sunshine. Now that my brother and I are in college (on different sides of the country), it’s a big deal for us to sit down as a family to supper. Summertime is special because it acts as a window into years past, where eating dinner as a family was simply routine for us. My parents always sought to make healthy meals to share with the family, so I quickly learned habits from them; incorporating vegetables into every meal, serving a huge bowl of fruit for the family to share, and accommodating meals for the entire family to enjoy.
Since I’ve been home from school (and unabashedly professed my love of cooking to the world), I’ve put myself in charge of cooking family dinners several times a week. Cooking is an outlet for me. Often more importantly than that, it’s a way to show people close to me how much I care for them. I love cooking meals that satisfy everyone’s taste buds, nutritional needs, and are loaded with fresh, seasonal veggies which is why I came up with this versatile dinner that everyone felt good eating.
Since my brother can eat nearly a box of spaghetti by himself and I can pound nearly a whole spaghetti squash in one sitting, I decided to play up both of our strengths and offer options to the family. I made a simple, light, broth-based sauce to top either of the bases with, and roasted a slew of summer-fresh vegetables to pile on top. Sadly, we weren’t able to dine as a family because of hectic schedules, but everyone was well-fed with a home cooked meal.
This meal is perfect for making on those days where you feel like you’re running all day and getting nowhere. It’s quick, versatile, easily microwaveable, and easy to adjust for anyone’s diet. Plus, it takes advantage of some delicious summer flavors that you won’t want to miss. Not to mention, it looks pretty too!!
Summery Spaghetti Supper
A base: 1 spaghetti squash, 1 box spaghetti, 1 box penne noodles
1.5 cups broth (vegetable or chicken broth)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground Italian seasoning
15 cherry tomatoes
8 stalks asparagus
1/2 yellow onion
10 cloves garlic, whole and peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
Optional toppings: parmesan cheese, extra Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, fresh parsley
1. The roasted vegetables will take the longest, so start with those. In a lightly sprayed large casserole pan (or a cookie sheet), place whole cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves. Next, break asparagus at natural breaking point and then chop them into bite-sized pieces. Add to pan. Chop the onion up and add to pan as well. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over all of the vegetables.
2. Put the vegetables into the oven and cook them at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Be sure to stir a couple times while they are cooking.
3. While the veggies are roasting, prepare the base of your meal. Cook spaghetti squash in the microwave by puncturing it lightly with a fork or knife several times and then cooking for 10-15 minutes, checking it to ensure it doesn’t explode. Cook pasta according to package directions.
4. Prepare the ‘sauce’ by mixing broth with vinegar and seasoning in a large bowl. Mix well and let them sit so the flavors meld together as the dinner is cooking.
5. To assemble, simply pour strained pasta into the bowl with the sauce mixture and stir well. Then, use a slotted spoon to serve pasta on plates. Top with roasted vegetables. If eating spaghetti squash version, simply put spaghetti squash on a plate or in a bowl, then pour a small amount of sauce on top. Top with roasted vegetables. *Note: you will need FAR LESS sauce if you make only spaghetti squash, as the vegetable is liquidy and therefore does not soak the sauce up as well. However, pasta will soak up some of the flavor and sauce so use the directed amount.
6. Sit down with your family and a huge bowl of fresh strawberries and blueberries, and dig into a great summertime meal!