Black rice and roasted squash salad.

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I saw this recipe in the January issue of Bon Appetit and I had to try it!  It looked so bright and colorful.  Grain salads are so satisfying and keep well in the fridge.  I loved how this turned out, it’s definitely a keeper.  I served this with a quick coconut milk-miso-lime butternut squash soup (made from the other half of the squash from the recipe), and my chili roasted brussels.

microgreen black rice salad pomegranate butternut squash honey

Black rice and roasted squash salad. (adapted from Bon Appetit’s January 2014 issue)

2 cups black rice

½ medium butternut squash (or kabocha, or acorn) peeled, seeds removed, cut into bite size pieces

1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons oil for roasting squash

¼ cup red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons honey (maple syrup would also work here)

2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 cup pomegranate seeds

1 cup microgreens or sprouts (I used some overgrown spicy microgreens, roughly chopped)

½ cup pistachios, chopped (pepitas or hazelnuts would also go well here)

Preheat the oven to 450.  In a dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot, add rice and 2.5c stock or water.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer.  Cook for 45 minutes.  Remove pot from heat, take off lid.  Place kitchen towel (folded in half to fit) over open pot.  Replace lid and let sit for at least 5 minutes.  (This step ensures fluffy, perfect and NOT SOGGY rice every time without a rice cooker.)  Allow rice to cool a little before assembling salad- warm rice is fine, just not hot as it will wilt the fresh produce.

Meanwhile, toss squash with a few tablespoons of oil, and a little salt and pepper.  Place squash on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment (for easy cleanup and no sticking) and bake for 30-45 minutes, until squash is  soft, golden and browned around the edges.  Allow squash to cool for 10 minutes before proceeding.

While squash is cooling, mix the oil, honey, and vinegar in a small bowl.

Place rice and squash in a large bowl.  Add pistachios, scallions and pom seeds.  Mix thoroughly.  Add the microgreens and vinaigrette; toss gently.  Serve!

Note:  If you will have leftovers, keep the microgreens separate  otherwise they will go soggy in the fridge which is no fun.

 

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Butternut squash soup. (vegan + gluten free)

butternut squash apple soup vegan dairy free

Butternut squash always reminds me of fall.  I grew some over the summer at my Nanas house and they were so easy and produced heavily.  They were a gorgeous glowing orange, seriously brighter than any I have seen in the store.  See?

organic homegrown butternut squash

They also store very well too.  I have been keeping them in my garage where it is cold and dark, and they have lasted well for about 3 months.  I had one last squash kicking around the garage so I decided to use it for dinner last night in a creamy pureed soup.  I usually use a very basic recipe from Cooks Illustrated (with a few swaps to veganize it) but this time I added some apples because my little asked for a sweeter soup.  If you prefer a totally savory soup, omit apples and add .5 pound of squash.  This soup is very simple and lets the butternut flavor really shine through.  *PLEASE for the love of god do not buy pre-cut cubes of butternut squash.  They are dry and stringy and bland and make for an awful soup.  With such few ingredients, it is imperative that you use the best.  Organic squash has a better and deeper flavor in my opinion.  I know cutting a hard squash takes a little time, but it’s so worth it. (If youre scared you’ll cut your hand off, watch this Martha Stewart how to video.)

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup.

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 yellow onion, chopped fine

2.5 pounds (about 1 large or 2 small squash) peeled, de-seeded and cubed butternut squash, seeds reserved to roast for garnish

3-4 cups vegetable broth

2 red or yellow apples, peeled, cored and chopped

1/3 cup raw unsalted cashews (optional but makes it creamy)

Few sprigs of thyme, tied together with kitchen twine

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Fresh sage leaves and thinly sliced shallot, for garnish (optional)

Melt the coconut oil in a heavy bottomed large dutch oven or pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until squash is softened, about 7 minutes.  Add the apples, 3c of broth, thyme, nutmeg, and cashews.  Stir to combine and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook until squash is very tender, about 20 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, spread your seeds out on a baking sheet (either nonstick or lined with parchment) and roast at 375F for 10 minutes or until browned.  Then, heat up a few tablespoons of oil in a pan and drop in the sage leaves in an even layer with a tiny bit of salt.  Cook without stirring for a few minutes or until crisped around the edges.  Remove and add your thinly sliced shallots to the pan and cook until caramelized.  Set garnishes aside.

Turn off the heat on the soup and uncover.  Remove the thyme and discard.  Transfer soup to a blender and puree till smooth.  Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.  You might want to squeeze a tiny bit of lemon juice to brighten it up a bit, depending on your taste.  If too thick, thin out soup with left over cup of broth.  Pour into bowls and top with the sage leaves, roasted seeds and caramelized shallots.  I topped mine with a bit of leftover cashew cream I had, too (1 cup cashews soaked overnight and blended with 1/4 to 1/2c of water and a tad bit of lemon juice).  Goes great with a little toasted bread and a kale salad!

Another week, another meal plan.

I haven’t meal planned in about 2 weeks and as a result I’ve spent way more on food than normal!  So to get back into it, I’m posting my meal plan for this week.  This will feed my family of 2 adults + 2 kids for a week.  Breakfasts are smoothies around here 9 times out of ten so I wont bore you with those details.  I keep a big variety of frozen fruit in the freezer for smoothies and we are still getting fresh oranges from our tree.  Thankfully my little garden has recovered from the frost and is producing double time:

winter gardenLOTS of citrus, greens, and radishes.
pak choi swiss chard kale spinach

Mon: Butternut squash soup with cinnamon croutons and fried sage leaves + green salad

Tues: Pistachio-herb quinoa + roasted garlic broccoli + caviar lentils (little black ones that cook very fast)

Wedns: Bibimbap (maybe going to sub tofu for beef in this recipe, or just omit)

Thurs: Citrus-black bean veggie chili

Fri: Green burgers from milking almonds and celine eats avocados (been drooling for a week over these babies)

Sat: leftovers (chili or burgers or both!)

Sun: working!

Along with all the stuff for dinner I will be getting lots of veggies and fruits too.  On my to-cook list is also banana bread, chocolate chip-fresh cranberry cookies, and maybe a raw dessert…cant forget the sweets!  So fun to make with the littles, too.  Also have my eye on this collection of vegan sushi recipes.  Does anyone else have this problem of wanting to make and devour every recipe you see!!!?  Fat kid problems.  Anyways…hope everyone had a great holiday filled with love and good food.

Love, A.