Creating Unusual Meals

Zapiekanka 3

Spaghetti squash gets its name from the fact that when it is cooked, the inside flesh pulls out of the shell in long strands, resembling spaghetti pasta. Oval shaped and yellow, spaghetti squash can be considered a summer or winter squash and is available year-round in most grocery stores. Adding it to your menu will bring a tasty treat to your mouth and several health benefits to your body.

Spaghetti squash contains a wide range of vitamins. A 1-cup serving offers 5.4 mg of vitamin C, which is almost 10 percent of the recommended daily intake, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. Other vitamins include A, B-6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid and vitamin K. A report from Colorado State University explains that obtaining your daily vitamins through food sources such as spaghetti squash may be more beneficial than taking vitamin supplements, as food contains several chemicals that work together, making the vitamins function more efficiently.

Researchers from China, published in the January 2011 issue of “Journal of Environmental Science and Health,” report that the flavonoids found in plant foods work with vitamins and play a role in protecting the body from cancer. A 1-cup serving of spaghetti squash also contains several minerals that are vital to good health. The dominant mineral is manganese, with 0.2 mg, which is 8 percent of the RDI. Manganese is needed only in small amounts, but it has a big job.

Zapiekanka

Zapiekanka is a Polish dish somewhat similar, in construction at least if not in taste, to other dishes such as the Italian appetizer bruschetta. This dish consists of a baguette of bread, either sliced in half along its length or cut into round slices, which is topped and then baked until crispy. The toppings used on this dish can vary widely among regions of Poland and the preferences of a cook or eater, but traditional toppings include mushrooms and grated hard cheese. Zapiekanka is then often covered lightly with a sauce after baking, and while ketchup is traditional for this dish, some people prefer mayonnaise or garlic sauce instead.

The name of this dish comes from the Polish word zapiekac, which means “to bake” and can be used to indicate any baked dish in general. During the time in which territories of Poland were part of the Soviet Union, as food and money were scarce for many citizens, “zapiekanka” began to refer to a particular dish that was cheap and easy to make. After the end of the Soviet Union, the tradition of eating zapiekanka as a Polish fast food continued, and many restaurants and street vendors continue to sell this dish.