I told you I would share a recipe with you in my IKEA post earlier this week as proof that I actually do cook real meals every once in a while. It’s true. I’ve been slacking on my recipe posts the past few months. You probably think all I do is run and spend time with my dog, which is true. I just haven’t had the motivation lately to cook. I blame the fact that my AC was on the fritz for the last 6 days so the thought of turning on any sort of appliance that would radiate heat scared me. But then that would only have me covered for 6 days of not cooking and we all know it’s been far longer than that.
Am I the only one out there who completely loses their motivation for cooking once the summer comes around? In case I am, I’ve come up with a short list of reasons why cooking in the summer is more difficult than other seasons:
- You spend less time inside. Less time inside means less time staring at your fridge, browsing recipes on your iPad or drooling over Giada’s latest arugula pesto, ricotta and smoked mozzarella pizza.
- Patios. I have an overwhelming love for al fresco dining. And while I do have a small balcony with a table set for two, the idea of sitting outside on a patio somewhere in the city, people watching and enjoying a nice meal just makes me happy. I love me some summer in the city.
- The days are longer. Longer days equal more time spent doing things other than cooking. Longer runs, longer walks with the dog. Did I mention that I haven’t been doing much other than those two things lately?
- I’m a little over halfway through marathon training. See #3.
- Warmer temps. I can put warmer temps on my list because we are finally back up in the 80’s after several weeks of record low temps here in Chicago. As the weather warms, I’m less likely to cook a complicated recipe or turn on my oven. My go-to summer meal? Salads. Every kind of salad. And if I’m feeling really crazy I mix it up with some cold quinoa salads. Everybody’s doing it.
- We grill everything. Fruit, pizza, fruit pizza. And while I do still consider grilling a form of cooking, it doesn’t exactly lead to a backlog of recipes to share with all of you.
- Most of my recipes are baked goods. I bake less in the summer. ‘Nuff said.
And so you have it. My justification for my lack of recipe posts this summer. I considered what kind of transition I could use to justify why after all of these reasons, I decided to make a hearty yet light summer spaghetti with meat sauce this weekend inside an AC-less condo, but there really isn’t one. My boyfriend said spaghetti with meat sauce sounded good in the midst of assembling my new living room furniture. And when it comes to manual labor, I’m happy to provide a meal as payment.
To make the pasta a little lighter, I made my own sauce from scratch and incorporated some fresh veggies. I also substituted turkey for beef and served it with a light and summery salad. Bear with me on the recipe. I made it up as I went along.
Summer spaghetti with meat sauce
- 1/2-3/4 lb extra lean ground turkey
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (+ 1/2 C water to thin)
- 1-2 shallots, diced
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp seasoning (I use this)
- 1/2 C zucchini, chopped
- 1/2 C carrots, chopped
- 1/2 C chopped fresh tomatoes
- 1-2 TBL red wine vinegar (sub 1/2 C white wine)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 TBL brown sugar
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp tomato paste
- 1/2 tsp each of oregano, parsley and thyme
Heat dutch oven over medium-high heat. Drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil into pan. Cook turkey until brown. Add garlic and onion and seasoning. Add carrots and zucchini and saute for 1 minute. Pour in crushed tomatoes, red wine vinegar, tomato paste and water. Add bay leaves and herbs and simmer for at least an hour. Add salt, pepper and brown sugar to taste. I’m sure I’m missing a few ingredients, but that’s the fun in cooking. You get to make things up as you go along and hope that they turn out tasty.
While sauce is finishing, cook 1 package whole wheat spaghetti and prepare salad.
- Arugula and mixed greens
- 1/4 C cherry tomatoes, sliced
- 1/4 C cucumber, sliced
- 1/4 C mushrooms, sliced
- 1/4 C avocado, sliced
- 3 TBL balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
- shaved parmesan
To make dressing, combine balsamic, mustard, honey and salt and pepper. Dress just before serving.
Once pasta is cooked, top with sauce and garnish with freshly shaved parmesan. Note: this recipe makes a lot of sauce. You can freeze the extra or serve it over spaghetti squash or other veggies later in the week.
I hope you enjoy are able to get out and enjoy some al fresco dining this weekend. Whether it’s outside at a state fair or on a patio in the city, be sure to get out an enjoy the weather. And people watching. As for me, I am beyond excited to spend the weekend in Nashville with some of my best friends. Seriously though.
Hopefully I’ll have a nice recap for you early next week of all of the food, fun and music. Have a great weekend!