Tag Archives: Fall Side Dishes

Roasted Squash Wedges with Pomegranate, Chermoula and Tahini

3 platesPeople tell my husband all the time how lucky he is. They imagine that being married to a food blogger is heaven, with something fresh and exciting for dinner every night. I’m here to dispell that image. I like to shoot in natural light. The optimal time for shooting in my kitchen is between 11 am -2 pm. By dinnertime, the food is cold and has been manhandled so much, nobody would want to eat it.

Often he will arrive home to a kitchen that looks like a tornado went through it. When I’m shooting, I try out different plates, bowls, and assorted props to get the right look. Those dishes pile up on the counter and in the sink. He generously and uncomplainingly washes those dishes. Curiously, he is opposed to drying dishes. He just likes to pile them up to let them air dry. But I’m not criticizing.

On days when I’m not shooting a new post, I’m just like you. I have a small repertoire of meals that I make on a weekly basis. Roasted squash is one of those items in the rotation. I either cut it into french fries or round circles. I always use butternut squash. I’m in a squash rut.

On a visit to the market last week, I was inspired to up my squash game and try some different varieties. Assorted Squash The jade green ones with the light green stripes are Kabocha squash. They are a Japanese squash that is fairly new to North America. Kabocha squash has a delicate honeyed sweetness and a smooth, almost fiberless texture. No need to peel this baby as the skin is very thin and roasts up crispy and delicious.

The deep orange ones, that look like they are topped with a Turk’s turban are aptly named Turban Squash. They have so much personality. The taste is quite mild and the texture is floury, making it perfect for soups. Mostly it’s used as a decorative squash because it’s just so cute.

The smaller orange and yellow squash are known as Sweet Dumplings. Diminutive in size but mighty in flavour, these little guys are sweet and delicious. Bonus points because the skin is edible and you don’t have to peel them. I sliced a Kobacha and a Sweet Dumpling into wedges and removed the seeds.cutting turban squashThe October issue of delicious magazine was the source for this gorgeous dish. I adapted it slightly. spices

ready for roasting Once roasted the dish is garnished with toasted salted pumpkin seeds and pomegranate. I added some salty ricotta salata cheese, but feta or goat cheese would also be great.Pomegranate There are two sauces to drizzle on top. The first is a chermoula sauce, a spicy herb sauce often used in Moroccan cuisine.The second sauce is a tahini-based mixture. While you could certainly serve this without the sauces, they really elevate the dish to something special.

Click here to print recipe for Roasted Squash Wedges with Pomegranate, Chermoula, and Tahini.

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Smoked Paprika Roasted Squash

2 platters 1We’re all familiar with the concept that small changes can add up to big differences. The internet abounds with lists that I seem powerless to resist clicking on. You know the ones I mean; 7 Small Changes That Will Make a Big Difference in Your Life, 10 Small Changes Which Make a Big Difference11 Small Lifestyle Changes That Can Make A Big Difference In Your Health & Happiness.

Last week I made a small change of my own, which, by the way, I have yet to see on any of these lists. We eat butternut squash at least once a week in our house. I always prepare it the same way. I cut it into sticks like french fries, drizzle on olive oil, salt, pepper and smoked paprika and  roast it at 400°F for 45 minutes.

As I peeled the squash a crazy thought flitted through my brain. What if I changed the way I usually cut the squash?  Wild, I know! I went rogue and cut thin circles.slicing squashThose lists always advise you to take it slow and not to make too many changes at once, so I kept it consistent and mixed the squash with my usual combo of olive oil, salt, pepper and smoked paprika. Smoked paprika, if you’ve never used it, is fantastic. I won’t go so far as to say it’s life changing, but it is pretty damn amazing. It makes everything taste better. I put that shit on everything.salt pepper and paprikamixing bowl and baking sheet2 baking sheetsI was actually surprised at how different the squash turned out from when I cut it into fries. The slices baked up more tender on the inside and crisper on the exterior. My squash fries never got golden brown like this. They were either limp and pale after 45 minutes or if I left them in longer, they burned. These circles were consistently golden brown with an outstanding texture.dipping in chipotle mayoI’m not a scientist, but I think the reason for this difference is that the amount of surface area that was exposed to the heat of the oven was greater when the squash was cut into circles, vs. the fry shape, so the squash had better chance to release all its moisture before crisping up.

If you’re serving this to company, scatter a few pomegranate seeds on top and whip up a dip. Mix one small chipotle chile in adobo sauce (seeded and chopped fine) into 1/2 a cup of regular or light mayo. (Don’t use fat free).

Here’s a tip for what to do with the remainder of the chiles in the can. Take a few minutes to seed them all. Puree the seeded chiles in the food processor and then spread the paste out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Put it in the freezer until firm and then break it up into large pieces and store in a ziploc bag in the freezer. It will keep for months. Just break a small piece off whenever you need it. It defrosts very quickly. it’s great on chicken, fish and in rice.platter on white table

Click here to print recipe for Smoked Paprika Roasted Squash.

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Autumn Panzanella Salad

in black bowl 625 sqTraditionally panzanella salads are made in the summer. Created in Italy, as a way to use up stale bread, toasted croutons are tossed with juicy ripe summer tomatoes, perhaps some cucumbers, onions, olive oil, and maybe some cheese. Everyone knows that a salad with bread is always better.

But an Autumn panzanella salad??? I know! The first time I heard of it , my mind was blown too. This salad was inspired by Chef Michael Symon. He made this one on The Chew a few weeks ago. This is my riff on it.

The most important rule of this salad, (yes, I have rules) is that you must use good quality bread. I used the multi-grain ciabatta from Ace Bakery. Tear the bread, don’t cut it. Douse in olive oil and liberally sprinkle with kosher salt. Toast in a hot oven until golden brown and crunchy. Craggy irregular shaped croutons are way more satisfying to eat. All those nooks and crannies to soak up the dressing.making croutonsAn autumn panzanella salad requires the quintessential fall vegetable, Brussels Sprouts. No roasting required. Just thinly slice. Brussels SproutsAdd some Honeycrisp apples, toasted pecans and gruyere cheese.assembling the salad 1Juicy sweet-tart pomegranate seeds add a pop of colour and some great crunch.seeding pomsassembling the salad 2Toss it all together with an apple cider vinaigrette, and summer panzanella salads will be a distant memory.

Click here to print recipe for Autumn Panzanella Salad.

salad in piled up bowlsjpg