Tag Archives: autumn

Radicchio, Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette

~ Butternut Squash, Radicchio, Arugula, Pomegranate, Walnuts, Balsamic,  ~

The final countdown to Thanksgiving has begun. At this time, each year, I have second thoughts about the amount of food that will be served. I think: Surely it won’t be enough. Well, it always is enough (a magical principle of Thanksgiving) – but some hostess preservation instinct kicks in, worrying that there won’t be an abundance of food befitting a Thanksgiving table lined with guests. So I devise a few last minute recipes to round out the menu with little effort. Often that includes a salad.

For all of the traditional Thanksgiving preparations, a bright and robust seasonal salad is often overlooked. Cooked vegetables, stuffings and mashes are the tradition, but do not underestimate a bowl of fresh seasonal greens, nuts and fruit. Not only is it light, fresh and palate cleansing, it’s autumnal hues of ochre, magenta, and forest green, speckled with glistening seeds, nuts and fruit, transforms it into a side dish pretty enough to be a centerpiece.

Radicchio, Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad with Warm Balsamic Vinaigrette

In a bold salad like this, it’s important to have a balance of flavors. Bitter radicchio is matched with salty prosciutto and sweet squash finished with a rich, sweet-sharp balsamic vinaigrette. Feel free to tinker with the ingredients. The prosciutto may be substituted with crisp rendered bacon or pancetta. Dried cranberries or figs may be substituted for the pomegranate seeds. Pecans or almonds may be used in place of the walnuts. Let your pantry decide!

6 slices prosciutto

1 butternut squash neck, about 1 pound
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil (or rendered bacon fat – see below)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, peeled, smashed
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 ounces (150 g) baby arugula leaves
1 small radicchio, cored, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, lightly toasted, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

Heat oven to 350 F. Arrange prosciutto on a baking sheet. Bake in oven until firm and crisp, 20 minutes. Remove and cool. Break into shards and set aside. (Alternatively, pan-fry 6 ounces (170 g) thick sliced bacon, cut in 1/2-inch pieces or pancetta cubes until fat renders and crisp. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel).

Peel the butternut squash. Slice in 1/2-inch planks. Cut each plank in 1 1/2-inch squares. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of cayenne (optional). Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat (if using bacon or pancetta, discard all but 1 tablespoon rendered fat from skillet). Place squash in the skillet. Cook until golden brown on each side, turning once. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare vinaigrette: Heat oil and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat until warm and garlic begins to turn golden brown. Remove from heat and discard garlic. Carefully add balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to the oil. Return to cooktop and warm over low heat, whisking constantly until emulsified.

Assemble salad: Toss arugula and radicchio in a large bowl. Scatter squash, pecans and pomegranate seeds over the salad. Drizzle with half of the dressing. Toss to combine. Add more dressing to taste.

Autumn Salads: Spinach with Goat Cheese, Cranberries, Walnuts and Crispy Prosciutto

Spinach, Goat Cheese, Prosciutto, Walnuts, Cranberries, Orange Vinaigrette

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean we can’t have a salad. In fact, when the temperature drops, it’s even more important to eat vitamin and nutrient-rich vegetables. We might be craving stews and braises in the warmth of the kitchen, yet there is still a place for a salad on the menu. Fall salads are more robust than their summer counterparts. What they might lack for in heat, they make up in substance. Sturdy earthy greens, such as spinach, chicories, kale or radicchio, move into the salad bowl. Nuts and seeds add nutrients and heft. Dried fruit or seasonal pears, apples, persimmons and pomegranates add sweetness and color. Dressings become more rich and intense, with mustard, aged balsamic vinegar and garlic. Cheese and salume crown the salad, bringing a satisfying umami quality, as well as salt and extra protein. The variations are numerous, but you can be sure the results will be delicious and perfectly in season.

Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Dried Cranberries, Walnuts and Crispy Prosciutto

Serves 2 to 4.

Vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1 small garlic clove,  minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:
2 ounces prosciutto
8 ounces baby spinach leaves
1/3 cup walnut halves, lightly toasted, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Make the vinaigrette:
Whisk all of the ingredients except the olive oil in a small bowl. Add the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly, until emulsified. Taste for seasoning.

Prepare the salad:
Heat oven to 350 F. Arrange the prosciutto in one layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake in oven until crisp, about 20 minutes. Remove and cool. Break in to shards.
Place the spinach, walnuts and cranberries in a large bowl. Drizzle with half of the dressing. Toss to combine. Add more dressing to desired taste and toss again. Arrange on serving plates. Crumble the goat cheese over the spinach, then scatter the prosciutto shards over the salad. Sprinkle with orange zest.

If you like this, you might enjoy these hearty salads:
Roasted Beets with Feta, Mint and Pistachios
Kale and Quinoa Salad
Mixed Greens with Roasted Beets, Wheat Berries and Goat Cheese

Holiday Pumpkin Pecan Roulade

Pumpkin Pecan Roulade with Orange Mascarpone Cream
(dusted off and polished up from the TasteFood archives,
because it’s that time of year again) 

The holidays are upon us, and it’s time to get dressed up. The silver needs polishing, the shoes need shining and the kids need scrubbing. Even our food gets dressed up, with stuffings and dressings, garnishes and twists. Nothing escapes scrutiny, including dessert where dustings and dollops are par for the course. And, in the spirit of fancifying, what is known as the ordinary cake roll becomes an elegant roulade at the Thanksgiving table.

What is the difference between a cake roll and roulade? you may ask. Well, nothing. Both terms describe a light cake which is rolled in a spiral with a creamy filling. Yet the blandly descriptive cake roll is what I might consider an afternoon dalliance. For my Thanksgiving dinner, I am inviting the roulade, a French term which elegantly and aptly sums up the nature of the dessert as the word itself rolls off the tongue. I want that dessert at our dressed up holiday table.

Language aside, there are other reasons to include a roulade on your menu. It’s elegant yet uncomplicated, remarkably easy to prepare with stunning results. It’s a no-fail recipe, which is a welcome relief during the holidays and frees up more time to dress ourselves up for the guests.

Pumpkin Pecan Roulade with Orange Mascarpone Cream
Inspired by a recipe from Ina Garten. Serves 8-10.

For the cake:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin or butternut squash puree
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus extra for dusting

For the filling:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Prepare cake:
Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C.) Butter a 12 by 9 by 1 inch sheet pan. Line with parchment paper. Butter paper and dust with flour.
Sift flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together in a medium bowl and set aside. Whisk eggs and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer until light and thick, 2 minutes. Add pumpkin and vanilla; mix until smooth. Stir in dry ingredients until combined without over-mixing. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle pecans over batter. Bake in oven until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 12-14 minutes. Remove and cool on wire rack 5 minutes. While the cake is cooling, lay a clean kitchen towel on the work surface. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sifted confectioners sugar. Invert cake onto the sugared towel. Carefully peel away the parchment paper and discard. Starting at the long end, carefully roll up the cake, jelly-roll style, in the towel. Cool completely on the wire rack.

Prepare filling:
While the cake is cooling, combine mascarpone, confectioners’ sugar, cream and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer. Beat until light and fluffy. Stir in orange zest.

Assemble roulade:
Gently unroll cake on work surface. Spread filling evenly over cake with a spatula. Carefully roll the cake back up in the same direction, using the towel. Arrange seam-side down on a platter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Cut in 3/4 inch slices to serve.

If you like this you might enjoy these other TasteFood recipes:
Apple Cranberry Crisp
Pear and Cardamom Tarte Tatin
Ginger Pear Streusel Cake

or these pumpkin dessert recipes from the food blogs:
Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes from My Baking Addiction
Pumpkin Fudge from Brown Eyed Baker
Pumpkin Chiffon Pie from the Kitchn
Pumpkin Quinoa Cookies from Gluten-Free Goddess

Kale and Carrot Salad with Pecans and Cranberries

~ Salad with substance: Kale, Carrots, Shallot, Pecans, Dried Cranberries ~

Fall and winter salads differ from their light and cooling summer cousin. Cold weather salads should be filling and comforting, hardy with fruit and nuts, cheese and dried meat. While served fresh, these salads should give warmth in substance. The base of this bright fall salad is kale. In it’s raw form kale is tough and bitter, best shredded in a slaw or sautéed in olive oil. For this salad I’ve softened the kale  by quickly blanching it just to soften its edges without wilting. The other ingredients fall willingly into formation, adding sweetness, crunch and a vibrancy of color pretty enough to decorate any holiday table.

Winter Kale and Carrot Salad with Pecans and Cranberries
Sliced persimmons would also be a nice addition to this salad.
Serves 4 as a side.

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large bunch curly green kale, tough vein removed, torn in large pieces
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1/3 cup pecans, halved
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Make the vinaigrette: Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Slowly add the olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil. Add kale and blanch just until the color brightens and the leaves still hold their shape, 20 seconds. Drain immediately and rinse under cold water. Spin dry in a salad spinner or blot dry with a kitchen towel. Transfer to a bowl. Add remaining ingredients. Toss with half of the dressing and taste for seasoning. Serve with additional dressing to taste.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Roasted Beets with Feta, Mint and Pistachios from TasteFood
Root Vegetable Gratin from TasteFood
Kale and Quinoa Pilaf from Food52
Kale and Potato Gratin from the Kitchn
Kale and Romaine Caesar Salad from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Thanksgiving Side: Spiced Acorn Squash with Coriander and Lime

Spiced Acorn Squash with Coriander and Lime

Have you noticed that fall and winter vegetables are often rock-hard?  It’s as though Mother Nature is providing a protective shield for her bounty to hunker down for the colder weather.  Unlike the squishy, juiciness of summer berries and tomatoes, autumn’s pumpkins and squash can double as paperweights and door stops. Drop a butternut squash on your foot, and you might break a toe.

Yet appearances can be deceiving. Cook a winter squash and before your eyes it will undergo a culinary transformation.  Its ugly-frog exterior, all bulbous, mottled and flecked, morphs and softens with roasting, exposing its inner sweetness.  And with some squash, such as acorn and delicata, what was once an impermeable skin becomes edible, complimenting its buttery, vividly colored interior flesh.  No sloucher in the nutrient department either, winter squash and pumpkins, are treasure troves packed with iron, potassium, Vitamin A, and rich sources of beta-carotene.

So go ahead and continue to use these rock-hard seasonal sculptures as table decorations or bowling balls.  But, I promise you, if you cook them they will transform into the Prince Charming of winter vegetables.

Spiced Acorn Squash with Coriander and Lime

The spice and citrus add brightness to the buttery squash. Do not even think of peeling the skin. Acorn squash skin is edible once cooked, adding texture and nuttiness to the flavors of the dish. Serves 4 as a side.

2 small or one large acorn squash, stem ends removed, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 red serrano chile pepper, stemmed, seeded, ribs removed, finely chopped
Juice of one lime, about 2 tablespoons
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander/cilantro leaves

Prepare:
Pre-heat oven to 425 F. (200 C.)
Cut squash in 3/4″ wedges.  Toss squash with oil, sugar, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper in a large bowl until squash is evenly coated with spices.  Arrange squash in one layer on baking tray, flesh-side down.  Roast in oven until tender and golden, about 45 minutes.  Remove and cool slightly.  Transfer to large bowl and toss with chile pepper, lime juice and cilantro leaves.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Southwestern Spiced Sweet Potato Fries with Chili-Cilantro Sour Cream

 

Sweet Potato Fries

Here is the good news:  Sweet Potatoes are one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat.  They are packed with dietary fiber, Vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, protein and complex carbohydrates. Not only that, they are low in calories and taste great.  There are many ways to eat a sweet potato. They can be mashed, baked, puréed and roasted.  They are delicious in soups and stews, curries and ragouts.  And, of course, their natural sweetness makes them a perfect addition to desserts – puréed in pie fillings and baked in breads and cakes.

These fries are one of my favorite preparations. The fries are sweet and salty with a fiery kick from the added spices and served with a cooling chili-cilantro sour cream dipping sauce.   They are quick to prepare and healthy to eat, since they are not deep-fried, but roasted in a hot oven.  I’m not sure if they should be called a side dish, snack or meal, but they are guaranteed to be gobbled up faster than you can say “Sweet Potato Fries.”

*This recipe was chosen as the winner in a competition hosted by Food52 and will be published in their upcoming cookbook.  You can find this recipe and many other delicious recipes on their site, and have a chance to cast your votes for favorite recipes.

Southwestern Spiced Sweet Potato Fries

I like to keep the skin on my sweet potatoes adding texture and extra nutrients to this healthy side dish.  Serves 4 -6 as a side dish or snack.

2 large sweet potatoes, cut in large matchsticks/batons approximately 1/4 inch by 2 inch
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

Chili-Cilantro Sour Cream (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 425 F. (220 C.)
Toss sweet potatoes and olive oil in a large bowl.  Combine salt, cumin, chile powder, paprika, pepper and cayenne in a small bowl.  Add spices to potatoes and toss to coat.  Arrange potatoes in one layer on baking sheet.  Bake in oven on lowest rack 10 minutes. Turn potatoes with a spatula and bake 10 more minutes.  Remove from oven and serve with Chili-Cilantro Sour Cream.

Chili-Cilantro Sour Cream:

1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons sweet chili sauce
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 heaping tablespoon chopped cilantro

Combine all the ingredients except the cilantro in a medium bowl and whisk together. Stir in cilantro.

Fall Market Salad: Figs and Greens with Honey Vinaigrette

Fall Market

This autumnal salad is insired by the fall palette on display at Sundays Farmer’s Market.

Figs and Greens with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
Serves 6

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup (80 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil

8 cups mixed greens such as arugula, oak leaf, mâche
1 cup purple basil leaves
One medium fennel bulb with fronds, tips and end removed, thinly sliced
6 purple figs, quartered
1/2 cup halved walnuts
6 oz. (175 g.) blue cheese such as Roquefort or Forme d’Ambert, cut in 1″ pieces

Whisk red wine vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.  Slowly whisk in olive oil in steady stream to emulsify.

Combine greens, basil and fennel in a large bowl.  Pour half the vinaigrette over, tossing with hands to combine well.  Arrange greens on serving plates.  Top with figs, walnuts and blue cheese.  Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette to taste.  Serve with baguette or pain paysan.