Being a butternut squash devotee, but far from being an Italian, I had no particular idea of whether or not my silky orange fall favorite was much of a thing in the country of mozzarella, artichokes, popes, cappuccino, pasta, beautiful fish, red wine, gorgeous shoes, shining lemons, and pizza.
I had no leftover turkey as I traveled for the holiday, but I did have some from the deli and, in need of lunch, made this sweet and savory salad. It was just the ticket for a day when, after boatloads of family dinners, my jeans were not exactly in their happy place. This meal is fast, nutritious, figure-friendly, and family-pleasing. Could you add a little of that leftover cranberry salad or relish off to the side of the plate? I’m thinking you could. Happy Giving Tuesday!
STILL HAVE FROZEN TURKEY? Take out a bit, unthaw, and use that. By the way, your frozen turkey is at its best-tasting for 2-3 months if it’s wrapped properly and stored at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, according to STILL TASTY DOT COM, my go-to for storage questions. If it’s in your refrigerator since last Thursday, it’s past time to throw it away; it was good/safe for 3-4 days only. In fact, even simple vegetables cooked Thanksgiving day and stored in the refrigerator should be tossed after today. Sad, I know.
TURKEY-ACORN SQUASH SALAD WITH APPLES AND PARMESAN DRESSING
My favorite place for pumpkin seeds is in my mouth. Preferably with salt or salt with cumin and cayenne. I also like them on top of pumpkin soup. Texture! I put them in my pumpkin bread, too. If you’re a jack-o-lantern carver, you probably have saved your seeds, cleaned and dried them, and roasted them in the oven for a treat in the days following Halloween when your teeth are still gritty from the sugar high night. (You can roast and eat the seeds from any kind of pumpkin at all.)
|Alyce’s Pumpkin-Ginger Bread|
I don’t think I actually was cognizant of the fact that pumpkin seeds were good for you for a very long time. I probably just never thought of it. Which is why blogging Power Foods is such a great idea for me. Of course I know that seeds are healthy; I just didn’t spend much time thinking about the ones that came out of a pumpkin. I was more interested in getting the kids out trick-or-treating or in fixing English muffin pizzas topped with jack-o-lantern faces cut out of a slice of cheese…..or, later on, that big pot of chili. But pumpkin seeds, like many other seeds, are fabulous treasure troves. Read on:
When the ancient Aztecs snacked on pumpkin seeds, they were on to something: Just a handful of these seeds offers a concentrated source of protein and energy-producing magnesium, along with generous amounts of immunity-protecting zinc. Abundant in phytosterols, which help lower cholesterol, pumpkin seeds also provide plenty of fiber when eaten in their shells.
—Power Foods : 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients from the editors of WHOLE LIVING MAGAZINE.
At 180 calories for 1/4 cup (32.25 grams), they pack a wallop calorically. That’s a lot of energy for a very small, portable amount of food. Read more about pumpkin seed facts and nutrition here, but first make my…
acorn squash salad with pumpkin seeds and cumin vinaigrette
- 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
- 1 acorn squash, cooked*, cut in half, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ x 3″ pieces (approximate)
- 1/2 lime, sliced
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup roasted or toasted pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
- Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette (recipe below)
- Mix spinach with cilantro.
- Divide spinach mixture and sliced squash between two salad plates, placing squash on top of spinach.
- Squeeze 1 or 1 lime slices over the vegetables and sprinkle salt and pepper.
- Divide the pumpkin seeds evenly and sprinkle salads with cheese.
- Drizzle with cumin vinaigrette. Garnish with slice of lime. Eat while squash is warm or at room temperature.
*To easily and quickly cook an acorn squash: Cut it in half carefully and scrape out seeds and strings. Put the halves in a 2-quart Pyrex dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high 3-5 minutes, testing after 3 minutes (and adding more time if needed) until squash is tender. Let cool briefly, peel with a sharp knife, and slice into half-rounds.
(A half squash is simply fixed in the microwave in a cereal bowl topped with a salad plate.)
Of course you can also bake an acorn squash in the oven if you’d rather.
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard, optional
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- Pinch each kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, ground cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon minced shallots
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Whisk the first five ingredients together in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking until well-combined or emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings by dipping a piece of spinach briefly into your vinaigrette.
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38 Power Foods is a group effort!
Stop by these other blogs and see what they’re cooking each week as we team up to bring you some of the healthiest cooking available:
Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
All sites may not blog power foods every week.
Are you a food blogger? Join us!
We’d like to have you as part of the group. Get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits: Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
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soup cookbook update–recipe testing is about done
|The hub testing “I Have a Spring Cold Chicken Noodle Soup”–he made it all by himself and said, “This is the best thing I ever made; it tastes just like your soup.” That was the compliment…that I had transferred the taste to the page. AH!|
Tonight, several of the local testers for my soup book come together at my house to eat, drink, and share their results; most out-of-town testers have emailed their recipe surveys. I think we are eating eight or nine soups (a taste or two each), but we’re also trying a couple of the accompanying recipes–a tapenade salad with goat cheese toasts, as well as microwave individual flourless chocolate cakes that are done in around a minute each. Think of us tonight as the book appears to be coming together in a VERY HAPPY, TASTY WAY!
Thanks to everyone who’s participated so far! You know I love you! So cool for this food to no longer be only between me, my stove, my computer, and Dave’s tummy.
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As I write today, I listen to Carol King and James Taylor, Live at the Troubadour.
For those of us of a certain age (or maybe anyone), this is good listening.
So good night, all you moonlight ladies. Rock-a-bye sweet baby James. Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose. Won’t you let me go down in my dreams… and rock-a-bye sweet baby James?
My, this music has aged well.
Sing a new song,
There are meals when the main course is light, delicate — a brothy-frothy soup or a small piece of white fish with a few vegetables. Or maybe you just have some squash leftover you’d like to make into a pretty “meaty” meal. On the other hand, this would also be a decidedly different and total side for a few great slices of pork loin or a lovely duck breast over the holidays. If any of those things is the case or even if none is, this is your salad.
It starts with cooking a whole acorn squash and about half of a normal-sized butternut squash (I do both in the microwave for recipes like this.*) If you like, a Hubbard or a Turban squash could be used instead. Let the squash cool a bit and then peel and cut it into one-inch pieces. Meantime, a few mushrooms are sautéed, stirred into the squash pieces, and gathered together with a decadent vinaigrette. A bit of cheese, a handful of fresh spinach and arugula, some chopped nuts for crunch and you have your salad. Couldn’t be easier, quicker, or more luscious. So winter. So warming. So if you’re cooking squash one night for dinner, fix an extra couple so you have have this the next day. Here’s how:
- 4 cups cooked winter squash (acorn, butternut, etc.) peeled and cut into 1″ pieces*
- 8 ounces button mushrooms sliced and sautéed in butter (about 1 tablespoon) with 5 leaves of sage finely minced or julienned **
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup each fresh spinach and arugula
- 12 large shards —or peels– of Parmesan cheese (use a potato peeler)
- Sherry-Truffle Oil Vinaigrette (below)
- 4 tablespoons chopped nuts, your choice (I liked a mix of almonds and cashews.)
- 2 tablespoons chopped dried cranberries or cherries, optional
1. In a large bowl, mix squash and mushrooms with sage and parsley. Salt and pepper generously.
2. Stir in the peeled Parmesan carefully.
3. Drizzle salad with enough vinaigrette to moisten lightly. Toss gently, but thoroughly to make sure all of the ingredients are covered with dressing.
4. Divide the salad between four salad plates and top each with a tablespoon of chopped nuts and 1/2 tablespoon of chopped cranberries, if using.
5. Serve immediately.
*To cook squash in the microwave: Pour 2 tablespoons water in a 3 quart Pyrex or microwave-safe dish. Carefully cut acorn or butternut squash in half; scoop our seeds and strings. Add a peeled clove of garlic or a peeled shallot to each squash half. Place squash in dish and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Microwave on high about five minutes, remove from oven with mitts and, with a small sharp knife, check for doneness. You want the squash just tender, not mushy. If it’s not done, put it back in the microwave and cook another minute or two and check again until the knife is easily inserted. Repeat if necessary. Add the garlic/shallot (mince them) to the salad.
**If you don’t have fresh sage, use 1/2 teaspoon (dry) rubbed sage.
Sherry-Truffle Oil Vinaigrette*
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 shallot, peeled and minced.
- pinch each kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustart
- 1 tablespoon Truffle oil**
- 3 tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil.
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegars, shallot, salt and peppers, and mustard. Drizzle in oils, whisking, until well-combined.
|A book you can trust from beginning to end–wonderful recipes and great wine advice, ideas, and thoughts. Nearly ten years old now, it has stood the test of time in my kitchen.|
*This vinaigrette is one, with a bit of change, from Andrea Immer’s (Robinson) book, Everyday Cooking with Wine, which is one of my favorites. She uses a recipe much like this for her Warm Wild Mushroom salad, which is one I often make.
**Can use all olive oil.
around the ‘hood
My choir’s (I use the pronoun loosely) cantata was last weekend and they blew it out of the sanctuary! In between a Taize Advent supper, Lectio Divina and service, the last rehearsals and worship, the wind whipped and more than 12 inches of snow covered our world. More than 600 crashes and 1,000 cars in ditches in a 24-hour period! Two of the crashes happened to my folk trying to get to worship or rehearsals in the hilly terrain of our church, Prospect Park United Methodist in Minneapolis. (Everyone’s ok.)
The temperature sits at 8 degrees Fahrenheit now (way below zero with windchill) and the pups and I are inside except for quick forays out into the white for pee breaks.
Here are some of my favorite pics from our yard:
|Hydrangea in snow.|
|South yard lilacs.|
|West fence picket.|
|Hello, snow. How gorgeous you can be.|
Sing a new song and put on your favorite holiday album,
How are new salads born at my house? Like this……
I’ve had some Israeli couscous (actually a blend) in my cabinet for a few months. Waiting.
Typically I throw some leeks, garlic, and asparagus in a sauté pan come spring and throw those lovely things into a bowl of couscous or orzo with a handful of grated Parmesan and lots of black pepper.
When I realized this was the week to blog winter squash, a different group of ingredients started to percolate. Despite the summer tomatoes still coming on (albeit slowly) and the basil crying for that last bowl of pesto to be made, I kept thinking fall food once the squash got in my head. Cranberries, apples, pears, sharp cheese, nuts.
|Fall..I adore pears…here I’ve just poached them slowly in port with some orange peel and cinnamon sticks.|
Thursday I had a big pot of turkey chili on the stove and called some friends to run over and help eat it. This salad, which began in my head days before it ended up in our stomachs, started the meal. I cooked the couscous and started chopping fruit and toasting nuts. It came together that easily; it’s fairly fast, too. I did think I might have liked walnut oil for the vinaigrette, but the only can I had was in the frig at our Colorado house where it’ll stay a bit fresher over the time we’re not there.
Could it be a whole meal? Definitely. Since it has oranges to keep the fresh fruit from turning brown, I think it’ll keep a day or so…but no more. It might be a filling and happy side for a quick Thanksgiving meal: roast a turkey breast, make this salad, and cook some of those green beans you’ve been freezing. Anyway, here’s how:
Follow the photo-easy recipe:
|Cook 8 ounces of Israeli Couscous* according to package directions. Use chicken broth in place of water. You can add a few leaves of fresh sage if you have them (remove before making salad). When couscous is tender, add 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil and 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil while still hot. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground white pepper. Optional: Stir in 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Cool to room temperature.|
|Toast 1/4 cup pecans in a dry small skillet and chop, reserving a few whole nuts for garnish.|
|Dice (medium) 1 pear, 1 apple, 1 orange (peeled), 6 dried figs (or fresh), 1 small cooked butternut squash (see below for my microwave directions). Dice (small): 2 oz. each sharp cheddar and Swiss cheese like Jarlsberg or Emmental or even Gruyere.|
|We liked this salad with coffee cup pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins.|
*I used Harvest Grains Blend from Trader Joe’s (available on amazon.com as well), which is a “savory blend of Israeli Couscous, Orzo, Baby Garbanzo beans, and Red Quinoa.” Regular Israeli or pearl couscous is fine and orzo or even farro would be easily workable substitutes.
Ingredients list: 8oz Israeli couscous or blend, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper (optional), fresh sage leaves (optional), 1 3/4 cups chicken broth (used 1 15 oz. can plus a little water), 1 1/2 tablespoons each canola and extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup pecans, 1 small butternut squash, 1 pear, 1 apple, 2 oranges (1 in salad, 1 juiced), 6 figs (fresh or dried), 1/4 cup dried cranberries, 2 ounces each sharp cheddar and Swiss cheeses, 1 teaspoon honey, 2 cups fresh spinach leaves
HOW TO COOK BUTTERNUT SQUASH IN THE MICROWAVE:
Place squash in a large microwave-safe dish and, using a sharp thin knife, poke a few holes in the largest section for escaping steam. Microwave on high 3-5 minutes (depending on size of the squash–a 1.5lb squash might take 5 minutes, for example) and remove the squash to a cutting board. Using a large chef’s knife, carefully cut the squash in half horizontally and with a large spoon, scoop out seeds and strings. Place the two halves back in the baking dish with a little (2 tablespoons or so) water and put the dish back in the microwave. Cook another five minutes on high or so (depending on the size of the squash) until tender. Covering the squash with plastic wrap or a microwave-safe cover will decrease the cooking time. I have also filled the center section with butter and a little brown sugar and served it just like that. (I often do this with acorn squash for a quick hot lunch.) Otherwise, you can let the squash cool, and then peel and chop or mash it according to your needs. This is much easier than peeling (or cutting) raw butternut squash, which is, at best, difficult.
I cook winter squash frequently and my reasons are many. Here are a few:
1. It’s delicious; it’s good for your body.
2. It’s easy to prepare in several ways: Stick in oven, saute, braise, boil, or microwave.
3. It’s useful as a vegetable or side, but is also hearty enough for a main dish. (Stuff with cumin rice, jack cheese and scrambled eggs for breakfast!)
4. It’s an excellent addition to soups and stews.
5. It’s a good substitute for potatoes with pot roast or roasted chicken.
6. It’s inexpensive and easy to find nearly year round, but particularly now.
7. It keeps on the counter for a long time–easily 2 months. (That’s about the limit for acorn; the others can keep much longer.)
Be brave and try whatever beautiful squash you find at the market. Whatever you do with acorn squash, you can easily do with most of the others. Even spaghetti squash is quickly cooked in the microwave. Shred it with a fork, add a little butter (salt/pepper) and you have a beautiful meal. And, yes, you can add marinara and stay on South Beach, phase 2!!
Don’t want to deal with the peel? You can buy peeled and cubed butternut squash or pumpkin at some markets, but you will pay a premium price.
Nutrition Profile for Butternut Squash
Want more info on winter squash, including nutrition and recipes? Visit the Snap-Ed (USDA) site here.
If you liked this, you might also like this recipe from my Dinner Place blog.
|Throw it all together with olive oil; slip it into the oven on a big rimmed baking sheet. Dinner emerges in about 35 minutes!|
or you might like this:
or my butternut and other squash soup
|This is a lovely soup for someone who is not well or can’t chew, but is luscious as well for a first course at Thanksiving.|
I blog with a great group of food writers on Fridays as we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods: 150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients: Read more about beautiful winter squash this week at these sites:
Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
If you’re interested in joining the gang writing each week, get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits: Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com
Sing a new song and cook a new squash,