From the food editor: There's much to look forward to in 2016
Whew, we made it to the second week of 2016. It seems most of us (or is it just me?) are not quite prepared for that first week, when resolutions are supposed to begin and our eating habits should start anew. At that point, I usually don't even have my Christmas decorations put away.
So it's during this second week of the new year that I feel energized for the next 12 months. And this is a good opportunity to reflect on what has been on this website over the previous 12.
Since becoming the food editor nearly a year ago, I have introduced some new features (Cook Hack, 5 Ideas) and tried some that I would like to start up again, like Food Fight, where we take a way of eating or preparing food and debate the myriad ways to do it. I have focused on clean eating and recipes that are healthy and nourishing but still exciting.
And I've received feedback that will influence how the section gets put together in 2016. The one thing I hear the most? Readers would like to see nutrition facts on recipes. That seems to go along with our focus on healthy and whole eating, so I am going to commit to getting that information on most of our recipes this year.
We're also going to debut a couple of recurring features in the coming months. On the cooking side of things, look for a column that demystifies the differences between certain foods, like sweet potatoes and yams, or regular olive oil versus extra-virgin olive oil.
A new Q and A segment will reach out into the Tampa Bay community and find out what foodies and other notable folks are enjoying in their kitchens and on the local food scene.
What else would you like to see, both in this section and on our website: tampabay.com/food? As we begin new traditions this year, I'd like to hear more from our readers about the kind of things they enjoy reading about and what proves useful to you as you set out to make dinner every night, or look for a new date-night restaurant. Submit your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet us at @TBTimesFood or write to us at 490 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
And one last thing. On Jan. 21, our food critic Laura Reiley will share her annual list of the top 50 restaurants in Tampa Bay. Look for it at tampabay.com/top50restaurants, where the 2015 list still resides for now. You won't want to miss it.
Contact Michelle Stark at email@example.com or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17 on Twitter.
© 2016 Tampa Bay Times
Spaghetti Squash With Bacon, Spinach and Goat Cheese
1 medium spaghetti squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
6 slices bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach
2 ounces soft goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Cut about half an inch off of the top and bottom of the spaghetti squash and discard those pieces. Cut the squash crosswise into rings about 1 inch thick and run your knife around the inside of the rings to cut the seeds out. Drizzle the olive oil over the baking sheet, then spread the squash rings over it, moving them around a little so that the undersides are evenly coated with a little bit of oil. Season with salt and pepper, then flip the rings over and season again.
Roast in the preheated oven until the squash is tender, about 30 minutes. When the squash is done, set it aside on the counter while you cook the bacon and spinach. It'll be easier to handle if you let it cool for 10 minutes before taking it apart.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then add the bacon slices. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, just until the very edges of the bacon start to brown slightly, about 2 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and continue to cook until the bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered out, about 5 more minutes.
When the bacon is done, turn the heat up to medium and add the red wine vinegar while stirring and scraping the bottom of the skillet. This will deglaze your pan, so that all of the caramelized bits of bacon end up in your food and not stuck to the bottom of your pan. After about 20 seconds, turn the heat back down to low and add the maple syrup. Stir everything together just to combine, then add the spinach, one handful at a time, stirring after every addition so that the spinach wilts and there's room in your skillet for more. When all of the spinach is wilted, turn the burner off under the skillet and let everything sit in there while you finish the squash.
Peel the skin away from the squash, then use a fork or your hands to pull the strands apart, adding them to the skillet as you go. When all of the squash is in the skillet, add the goat cheese and toss everything together just to combine.
Divide between two plates and serve immediately.