Today’s weather was glorious and made for driving about the backroads doing country errands. While stocking up on oats, sugar, and other sundries at the small bulk foods store run by a local Amish woman I saw her husband out gathering hay in their field. The field was beautiful with the clean cut green topped with regular mounds of hay that had been painstakingly baled by hand. Since the Amish eschew most farm equipment for religious reasons, he was manually baling the hay.
Each large mound of hay was comprised of many small, hand-tied bales propped up on their ends with their heads resting together and another bale perched on top. Aaron explained to me that this is the way it’s been done for centuries and when the sun is shining and the breeze was blowing as it was today that the hay would dry out in record time. Of course! How did I not connect the saying, “Make hay while the sun shines”? I always thought it was a naughty aphorism. It’s a good thing we moved here. I needed Amish neighbors to get my mind out of the gutter.
In addition to improving the aim of my moral compass, my Amish neighbors have taught me how to make some simple, frugal meals such as the following Haystack Suppers recipe. The beauty of Haystack suppers is that it can take advantage of odds and ends you have in the fridge and can be as complex or as simple as you want it to be.
Since it was so gorgeous I really didn’t want to spend a whole lot of time in the kitchen and took a cue from Aaron. He stacked hay in his field, I made Haystack Suppers in my home. Haystack Suppers, for those of you who’ve never tried them, are basically a tall bed of plain spaghetti topped with anything your heart desires EXCEPT for any sauce even remotely Italian. Most of the folks who’ve shared this dish with me tend to top it off with taco type accoutrements like ground beef, chopped tomatoes, onions, shredded cheddar and salsa.
Tonight’s Haystack Suppers are my entry for our Second Tuesdays Déjà Food Event because they used up some leftover jalapeno summer sausage from Bell’s Meat & Poultry in Kane, PA.* I could lie and say it used up leftover tomatoes, zucchini and red onion, but I didn’t. (See? My moral compass is firmly pointed toward “Honest”!) I pan fried some fresh zucchini from our garden in olive oil, rough chopped some tomatoes and red onion and put out a huge hunk of fresh parmesan cheese along with the sliced summer sausage.
*If you have ever tasted the Mom’s Blend Beef Log from Bell’s you know that you do NOT, under any circumstances EVER, waste one molecule of it. Ever, ever, ever!
Englisher* Haystack Suppers
*“Englisher” is the term the Amish use to describe their non-Amish neighbors. And since I’m not Amish, well, you know… And normally I do not rinse my pasta, but my Amish friends insisted it was an important part of this dinner because the pasta was not supposed to be at all sticky.
1 lb of spaghetti, cooked according to directions on box and then drained and rinsed in cool water.(We used 2 lbs of Barilla Whole Grain- but I realize that most people aren’t feeding the number of people we are per meal so I did the math and downsized for you! )
1 large or 2 medium sized zucchini, washed and sliced end to end into 1/4″ slices
1 medium red onion, peeled, thinly sliced and then rough chopped
4 large tomatoes, cored and rough chopped
1 cup thinly sliced Summer Sausage or other fully cooked sausage
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Montreal Steak Seasoning (or fresh ground black pepper and kosher salt), to taste
Lay zucchini out on a plate and sprinkle both sides with Montreal Steak Seasoning to taste.Heat an empty large, heavy bottomed skillet (cast iron is best) over high heat. When wisps of smoke rise from the pan, drizzle the olive oil and carefully swirl the pan to evenly coat the bottom. Lay the zucchini in the pan and let it sizzle and pop about 3-4 minutes per side or until slices get a slight brown crust on either side. Remove to a cutting board and slice into 1/2″ strips.
Mound a large amount of spaghetti high in the center of your plate. Top with desired amounts of fried zucchini, tomatoes, onions, Summer Sausage and a great deal of grated cheese. Serve immediately!
How did we like this recipe?
Englisher Haystack Suppers got 14 enthusiastic thumbs up out of a possible 14. It was especially approved by the children who like to avoid zucchini on their plates. We all liked this enough to repeat it weekly in one variation or another. Oh. My. Goodness. What’s not to love? It’s wicked inexpensive. It can be as elegant or as simple as the ingredients used to top it and everyone can tailor their own plate to suit their individual tastes (or lack thereof!) We all highly recommend trying these. Soon.