A couple of weeks ago, I did a cooking demo for BioReliance’s employee health fair. I made a few interesting dishes including a kale, white bean and potato soup, a lentil, sausage and swiss chard skillet and a pan roasted butternut squash and goat cheese salad with toasted shallots, sage and pecans. Although people liked all three dishes, the roasted butternut squash salad seemed to be the favorite. I really like this dish because I love salads, but they tend to be too cooling for me during the winter. If I add some roasted veggies and warming spices and herbs, it’s a great combination for my damp constitution!
To create your own, warm winter salad, roast your favorite root vegetable(s) and then mix them with your favorite toasted nuts, herbs and even cheese. Make a tasty homemade salad dressing and toss with fresh greens such as spinach, watercress, arugula, endive and/or radicchio. In just a few moments, you have a scrumptious starter salad for a Holiday menu or even a satisfying mid-week entree salad.
Here are a few ideas for warm winter salad combinations followed by the recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad. Any of these roasted vegetable options would work well with the basic dijon vinaigrette mentioned in this recipe. Have fun experimenting!
winter squash (i.e. butternut, acorn, kabocha, delicata)
shaved Pecorino Romano
Roasted Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese & Arugula Salad
Serves: 4 to 6
- ¼ cup lightly toasted pecan halves
- 2 bunches arugula leaves (about 4 cups)
- 1 ½ cups shredded radicchio
- 1 butternut squash, halved & seeded
- 1 cup of blue cheese or goat cheese, crumbled
- coconut oil, extra virgin unrefined
- 2 TBSP thyme
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 TBSP finely diced shallot or red onion
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
- 1 TBSP dijon mustard
- ½ TBSP maple syrup
- 2 garlic cloves, minced or chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Halve the butternut squash and scoop out the seeds. Peel and cube (~1-inch cubes). Place in a roasting pan greased with extra virgin coconut oil. Bake approximately 30 to 45 minutes.
- In a medium hot skillet (un-oiled), toast pecan pieces, turning every few minutes.
- Wash arugula well and trim stems if necessary. Use whole leaves or tear into bite-size pieces if leaves are too large. Place in a medium-size bowl.
- Add shredded radicchio, crumbled goat cheese and toasted pecans to arugula and toss gently. Set aside while you prepare the dressing.
- In a small skillet, heat 1 TBSP of the coconut oil. Add shallot and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add thyme and sea salt. Add butternut squash and brown. Once browned, drizzle with olive oil.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients. Pour over salad, toss very gently, and add cubes of squash to top. Serve immediately on individual salad plates.
This is the time of year when I can’t wait to get my hands on all of the beautiful, colorful winter squash at the market. There is something so alive and sensual about winter squash this time of year. I enjoy almost all of them in a variety of dishes, but one of my favorite ways to prepare winter squash is to halve it and stuff it with something scrumptious like one of my favorite whole grains, greens, nuts and dried fruit. If I’m feeling frisky, I may even add little bits of ground venison or pastured pork sausage bits for flavor and to make my husband happy.
I was playing in the kitchen the other night and came up with the following recipe. Enjoy!
Stuffed Acorn Squash with Swiss Chard, Pecans, Dried Cherries & Buckwheat
- 1 acorn squash, halved
- 2 sausage links (from pastured, organic animals or wild game)
- 2 cups of cooked buckwheat (sprout overnight, then follow the directions below)
- 2 TBSP maple syrup
- 1 leek
- ¾ cup dried cherries
- ½ cup toasted, chopped pecans
- 1 bunch of Swiss Chard
- 2 TBSP of fresh or dried thyme (may need more if fresh)
- 2 TBSP of marjoram
- olive oil
- sea salt
Note: The ingredient measurements are approximations. Unfortunately for you, I’m a cook that hates to dirty a measuring cup or spoon.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Halve an acorn squash. You could also use Kabocha, Carnival or Delicata squash for this recipe. Place squash flesh side down in a pan with a ¼ inch of water. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.
- Pre-soak buckwheat in water with a splash of raw apple cider vinegar overnight. Drain and toast in a skillet. Place in a pot and add water until the level is about ½ inch above the buckwheat line. Cook until there is no water left in the pot.
- Saute sausage in a large skillet. Remove and slice into small pieces. Saute leeks in the pan and then add Swiss chard. Add sausage after Swiss chard is tender.
- Once the buckwheat is done, add to to the mixture. In a separate pan, toast pecans. Add the pecans, dried cherries, maple syrup, salt, thyme, olive oil and marjoram. If more moisture is needed, add water or stock.
- Once the squash halves are soft, stuff the mixture inside the halves. You may wish to grate some fresh pecorino cheese on top. Bake in the oven for an additional 15 minutes.
Let me know how you like it. Also, you can exchange buckwheat with any whole grain, pecans with any nut, cherries with any dried fruit and Swiss chard with any green. The possibilities are endless and make for an interesting stuffed squash dish!
Happy Valentine’s Day, Everyone!
In honor of the big day, I thought I’d share a recipe with you that I created last night. It was a soup full of flavor, beta-carotene and other powerful anti-oxidants. I call it, SunCarBochaSnip Soup. You’re thinking, what the hell is that, Kim? Well, it’s a yummy soup I concocted using sunchokes (also known as Jerusalem artichokes), carrots, Kabocha squash and parsnips. Hey, it’s what was in the fridge last night! As I was chopping these beauties, I realized that with all of this fiber, it must be a damn good soup for the heart – and the gut, too. So, I roasted them and turned them into a tasty, warming soup.
Want to know why these winter veggies are heart healthy?
Well, let’s start with our sunchoke friends. Full of inulin and fructooligosaccharides, these sunflower and artichoke relatives serve as a great pre-biotic for the healthy gut flora. Basically, pre-biotics feed the good bacteria, also known as probiotics, in your intestines which allows your digestive system to flow and work properly. Also, studies show that inulin helps your heart by lowering blood glucose, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. It’s also helpful with preventing the growth of certain cancers. One final note on this most romantic day of the year, Dr. K. M. Nadkarni, author of the Indian Materia Medica, says that sunchokes are an aphrodisiac and enhancer of semen production! Who knew?
Carrots of course are full of carotenoids which are amazing antioxidants that prevent cancer. They too can help with lowering blood sugar levels and their coumarin content can help prevent blood clotting. Of course this amazing root vegetable is important to eye health, lung health and the health of the body’s other surface tissues (such as the gut lining). If you believe in food energetics, this makes sense. Carrots are roots that are soothing to the digestive system and soak up nutrients for the carrot plant. The digestive system does the same for us which supports the theory that carrots are good for the gut! Anything that is good for the gut, is good for the heart, too.
Full of fiber and vitamin C, winter squash such as Kabocha are a great way to incorporate sweetness in your diet without the refined sugars. Dr. Thomas Levey, Board Certified Cardiologist and author of Stop America’s #1 Killer says the “the lower your vitamin C blood and tissue levels go, the greater your chances of developing significant heart disease.” Like sweet potatoes and carrots, winter squash are also high in carotenoids which protect your body from a variety of cancers. In addition, winter squash are full of potassium which is an important electrolyte for the heart and circulation in the body.
So what about parsnips? These tasty root vegetables are full of fiber and contain about the same amount of calcium as milk. Calcium, of course, is an important mineral essential for heart beat regulation among other things. They are a good source of potassium, too, which is an important heart nutrient. Parsnips are one of my favorite vegetables to add to soup; however, they do impart a strong flavor so keep that in mind.
So, I think you’re ready for the SunCarBochaSnip Soup recipe. Unfortunately, I don’t measure so you’ll have to improvise a bit. Enjoy!
- 1 Kabocha squash (you could substitute any winter squash)
- 5-6 carrots
- 5-6 sunchokes
- 2 parsnips
- 2 onions
- handful of fresh parsley
- stock (homemade is best, but you can also use water or a pre-packaged variety)
- 1 TBSP-ish curry powder
- 1 TBSP-ish paprika
- 1 TBSP-ish cumin
- ½ TBSP-ish chile pepper
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- dollop of yogurt or sour cream on top (optional)
- Slice squash, carrots, sunchokes and parsnips. Place in a dish with a little bit of water and roast in the oven at 375 deg for about 45 minutes. Add some olive oil towards the end.
- Dice the onion and add to a pan with oil (coconut or olive if you keep the heat low). Add the dry the seasonings.
- Add stock or water.
- Add roasted veggies and simmer. Add fresh parsley. Adjust seasonings.
- Puree with an immersion blender.
Fall is a time of transition both in our bodies and our minds. I love all of the beautiful fall crops, but I am particular fond of winter squash with all of their shades of orange and yellow flesh. Of course, I’m also a fan of sweet potatoes, dark leafy cool weather greens such as kale and watercress and root veggies like carrots, turnips, radishes, rutabagas and beets. These foods can help us to prepare for the changes that autumn and winter bring us. If you are a believer in food energetics, like me, you know that root vegetables are grounding and and strengthen the digestive system by detoxifying the liver and aiding the spleen and pancreas.
According to Paul Pitchford, pumpkin, a type of winter squash, relieves damp conditions such as “dysentery, eczema and edema.” The compounds in pumpkin help to clear out mucus from the longs and throat which is great news for fall allergy sufferers. It’s also a great treat for those sweet cravings and helps regulate blood sugar levels. Pumpkin and other winter squash are chock full of beta-carotene and help reduce inflammation in the body.
If you’re interested in learning more about these Fall Foods, Join myself and Whole Foods Chef, Ellen Siegel for our quarterly Fall Healthy Explorations Program, “Fall Foods & Soups,” at the Greenbelt Youth Center on October 4th at 7pm. Learn how to incorporate a variety of produce from the season into your menu plans. We’ll focus on healthy, hearty soups in particular. The event is FREE and sponsored by the Greenbelt Co-op Supermarket and Pharmacy, but you must register by October 3rd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 301.474.0522, ext. 205.
Here’s a soup recipe teaser from Food & Wine…
- 2 large butternut squash (5 pounds total)—halved lengthwise, peeled and seeded
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 leek, white and tender green part only, thinly sliced
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 6 cups water
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 thyme sprig
- Coconut shavings, for garnish (optional)