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butternut

Garlic and Herb Butternut Squash

 Garlic and Herb Butternut Squash

Squash is one of my favorite remedies for surviving East Coast winters. Caramelized juices, from all varieties, are constantly dripping over the bottom rack of my oven. It’s just the warmth I need to make my little apartment cozier.

Butternut Squash

Here, you’ll find a recipe that features one of my favorites — butternut, both its seeds and its flesh.

It’s a garlicky dish the works as a side to plenty of hearty winter meals. I also love it slathered across slices of crusty toast.

No matter the execution, the seeds lend a nice crunch. Use the leftovers to top salads or simply snack on.

Garlic and Herb Butternut Squash

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Warm Chickpea Squash Salad Over Kale with Tahini Sauce

Warm Chickpea Squash Salad Over Kale with Tahini Sauce

Often it’s the simplest dishes that make for the tastiest meals.

Fresh, seasonal ingredients, a pinch of spices and chopped herbs, and really that’s all you need to create a recipe that’s memorable, many times even more memorable than a combination that calls for hours upon hours of cooking.

Warm Chickpea Squash Salad Over Kale with Tahini Sauce

I’ve been getting into swimming lately, which generally leaves me ravishing upon arriving home.

My patience doesn’t have time for anything fancy when I show up to the kitchen counter. And when I have quality ingredients on-hand, I don’t need anything complicated either.

Luckily, my stockpile of winter squash has been conducive to all of this. A hearty tray of simply seasoned kabocha or a steaming baked sweet potato can really knock the edge off of hunger in a satisfying way. I find this to be one of the richest parts of winter.

Warm Chickpea Squash Salad Over Kale with Tahini Sauce

This recipe draws upon that heartiness of squash to create a nourishing meal that stays both light and satisfying. Baked with a little spice and tossed over crunchy, massaged kale to ever-so-slightly wilt the leaves, this becomes a powerful salad.

Salty chickpeas top it all off along with a creamy tahini dressing, where you’ll find the strength of fresh herbs kicking in.

Warm Chickpea Squash Salad Over Kale with Tahini Sauce

Serve with a slice of crusty bread, and feel free to sprinkle a few toasted nuts and seeds on top to give the meal a boost.

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Butternut Kale & Cranberry Panzanella

Butternut Kale & Cranberry Panzanella

When looking for holiday recipes earlier last month, I came across this beautiful butternut adorned recipe from Cookie + Kate. I was seeking a veggie-centered side to bring to Thanksgiving. This one quickly made the cut.

Tossed with festive cranberries and a light, yet savory vinaigrette, this kale salad is the kind of side you want on your celebratory table. Among heavier eats, it continues to shine on its own. Yet, it won’t weigh you down even if it persuades you to go in for seconds.

Butternut Kale & Cranberry Panzanella

I offer this up now as a suggestion for the celebrations that remain as we ring out 2015. If you’re in charge of the salad for dinner, why not reach for something new?

Creamy squash. Crunchy pumpkin seeds. Chewy, sweet and sour cranberries. Flaky parm. And a hearty kale leaf at its center.

With so many layers and textures in one bowl, this is a salad destined for discussion.
Pumpkin seeds

Those layers also make this salad one that could satisfy you if eaten for dinner on its own. There are those rare days where I crave just a salad in my bowl and nothing else. This particularly applies after one too many hefty holiday meals.

In those instances, a simple spring green medley isn’t going to appease my palette. But this creation would.

If you don’t get around to putting this recipe on your holiday list, save it as a start for 2016. It has all the nourishing elements you need to fulfill any sort of healthy eating oriented goals. You could also throw some chickpeas or salmon on top for an extra oomph if salad-for-dinner makes you nervous.

Butternut Kale & Cranberry Panzanella

Have other veggie-centered suggestions for the holidays? Shoot them my way. I’m always looking for ideas!

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Harvest Squash and Wild Rice Pilaf with Pecans and Cranberries

Harvest Squash and Wild Rice Pilaf with Pecans and Cranberries

I craft a lot, a lot of recipes. And I’m always dreaming up more in my mind. Yet, every year, Thanksgiving comes around, and rarely do I have a clue of what I’m going to make.

Usually, the winning idea arrives last minute (fashionably late). Often, it’s after a few Google searches, and several emails from my sister inquiring about what I’ll be bringing to the family feast. Usually she gives up. And often I show up with a surprise. Which means, it needs to be good. Great. Worthy of all turkey-eaters to save some vegetarian room on their plate.

Harvest Squash and Wild Rice Pilaf with Pecans and Cranberries

This year, I was given some time in advance to think. Well, actually, required to set aside some time to choose a Thanksgiving dish to share recipe.

I hosted a Friendsgiving this past weekend, which was perfect for practicing my holiday cooking skills before the real deal rolls around.

This heaping bowl of thyme-infused rice and squash goodness got gobbled up in no time. If I had to give it an alternate name, I’d call it Healthful Holiday Party-in-a-Bowl. It’s a true celebration of fall’s best festive flavors.

Harvest Squash and Wild Rice Pilaf with Pecans and Cranberries

Here, nutty rice pairs with creamy squash and a sweet-meets-tart punch of flavor from the cranberries. Buttery, pan-roasted pecans add a crunch, while thyme drives that classic Thanksgiving feel that we all know and love. I sautéed the onion in butter to richen things up, and finished it off with parsley to add a complimentary freshness. The result, as previously mentioned, is a T-day party-in-a-bowl. Are you ready to celebrate?

Harvest Squash and Wild Rice Pilaf with Pecans and Cranberries

If you’re not sure what you’re bringing to the Thanksgiving table yet, I’m throwing this into the recommendation hat. It serves as a great vegetarian main dish that leaves you satisfied with all of its festive goodness.

If you do have a recipe already picked out, this needn’t be reserved solely for the holidays. Healthy and wholesome, I’ll certainly be bringing this to the table again this season. Cheers.

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Jerusalem’s Butternut Squash and Tahini Spread

Jerusalem's Butternut Squash and Tahini Spread

One of my roommates recently picked up the Jerusalem cookbook. It’s always been one of my favorites to peruse, along with Ottolenghi’s other book, Plenty. I’ve never owned either of the books but have many friends who do, and from their pages, I have loved pretty much every recipe I’ve had the pleasure of helping to recreate.

Mediterranean cuisine may just be my favorite. And Jerusalem is packed with quality ingredients that bring this style of eating to life.

Winter Butternut

The first Ottolenghi recipe I ever made was essentially the non-pureed form of the one typed out below. That initial dish, a baked butternut and roasted red onion side, is one I make often. It introduced me to the heavenly combination of creamy tahini and nutty squash, which I knew wouldn’t let me down in this recipe.

Jerusalem's Butternut Squash and Tahini Spread

Here, that duo is topped with an intriguing addition – date syrup, or as an alternate, molasses. The cookbook explains that date syrup is an intense, natural popular sweetener in the Middle East, and is great for salad dressings, to sweeten stews, or to drizzle over morning porridge. While I am curious to seek that out, the recipe says that the date syrup can be also be swapped for molasses. I decided to go with the latter, one, out of convenience, but also two, because I love molasses yet feel it’s a rather underutilized ingredient in my kitchen. It, too, felt like a surprise ingredient for the dish, and I thought it worked quite well.

Winter Still Life

Creamy and intense, this essentially turns tahini into something that I would eat by the spoonful. However, it’s rich, and is even better when smeared across a crusty bread. Next time, I might add cayenne for some heat, and possibly even a bit of lime or balsamic to cut it a little bit further. Overall though, this was a hit, and would certainly act as a conversation starter if serving to guests. It has this whole sweet-meets-savory dynamic that begs for questions, and also double dipping. Definitely adding this one to the repeat list. Again, another one from Jerusalem that doesn’t disappoint.

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