Okay, I have roasted my first butternut squash and unpacked my sweater box, I am finally ready for Fall now. Actually, I have already roasted three butternut squashes, so I guess I am in full Fall mode.
I had a version of this salad at one of my favorite restaurants recently, and ever since then I have recreated it a few times, a few different ways, and this way right here is the winner.
This site is no stranger to marinated kale salad, and I would like to think that I have a small arsenal of kale salad favorites for each season. This fig and butternut squash combination is my current favorite Fall version. It’s easy to throw together if you have guests coming over, and it is a fun combination that some might not expect.
I used to be one of those "I don't do fruit in salad" people. But, as you can see here and here, I guess I can no longer claim to be one of those people. As long as the sweetness of the fruit's purpose is to balance out the savory, I am all about fruit in my salad. Especially this salad.
I feel like my recipes have been a bit of a celebration of vegetables recently …. and I like it that way.
Part of my passion behind this blog is showing that vegetables can be the star, instead of just a side. This recipe is the perfect example, it take the cauliflower and makes it a big bright superstar.
I mentioned a couple of recipes ago that I get a lot of inspiration from eating out, and our meal at the Fat Radish totally inspired this dish. We had a whole roasted cauliflower as an appetizer, and I just loved how they served it whole instead of chopped up into florets. It was so much more exciting. I thought with just a few added extras, this would make an impressive entree.
Michael and I shared this for lunch last week. I served it over some millet and tossed some currants on top. Each with fork in hand we tore into this cauliflower, and finished it in about 7 minutes. We both agreed, it was an awesome meal that was fun to share and full of flavor.
I have something to admit. For someone who is obsessed with kale, I had been a bit skeptical of kale pesto. I thought, how can kale pesto taste good? Kale on it’s own is nothing special and it needs some love and a good bit of massaging to taste great. It does not have an exciting scent or taste like basil or mint, so how is it going to flavor a pesto? Well … after making one batch I now have a whole new level of respect for kale. I’m not quite sure what it is, but kale pesto is crazzzy good.
I’m warning you now, you’ll probably be seeing a few more recipes with kale pesto in the coming weeks, but for now, if you've been skeptical like me and haven't tried it, well, you must. And then you must smear it on this roasted cauliflower and eat this for a meatless Monday or Tuesday ... or any day of the week. I'm certain you will be smitten.
I know I've been harping on the weather a bit lately, but ... I'm optimistic this will be my last real wintry recipe. I am so ready for artichokes, spring peas, and ramps, but until it gets a little warmer outside I'm braising. Lentils.
Braising is one of my favorite words in the culinary vocabulary. I love everything about it. I love what it stands for, I love to braise foods, and I love to eat braised foods. It's one of the laziest methods of cooking, and yet produces some of the most flavorful results.
When you hear the word braise, the first thing that might come to mind is meat. But not here, not today. Today we're braising lentils. Because braised lentils are delicious. They get the same amount of love and red wine that anything else that is braised would get. With a slightly healthier result.
I was inspired to braise lentils after reading Melissa's Clark recipe for braised beans in dining section of the New York Times. It sounded like such a warm, hearty, good wintry dish, and when I made her braised beans and they definitely hit all of those notes. Then I tried a version with black lentils that were just as satisfying, and a little easier to prepare in a pinch since black lentils do not need to be soaked.
To make this a complete meal that would satisfy the gamut from vegans to carnivores, they needed a little something more. A dense pieces of grilled polenta to soak up all the delicious braising juices does the trick. Some kale or spinach as the base adds some bite and some green. I cannot think of a more satisfying and complete dinner for a chilly evening.
Bayley, our sweet crazy mutt dog, turned three last week (that's 21 in dog years). His birthday is March 1st. He's adopted, which means we do not know what his exact birthday is, so we gave him a made up birthday when we got him. I make sure to give him a few extra hugs on his birthday (he's a big time hugger, he loves getting hugs).
I am a bit of a crazy dog lady. I'm that person who has to stop every dog on the street just to give them a scratch and say hello. I love the dog culture and the conversations you have with other dog owners.
"This is Spot, don't mind him, he's a bit ant-social."
"Oh, Roofus loves to play, can he pay with your dog."
"Jack gets really excited when he sees big dogs, he thinks he's bigger than he really is."
It's amazing how much a dog's personality reflects their owner's. I like to think that Bayley got his happy and loving attitude from us.
The other day I was walking him around our neighborhood and a random guy stopped us on the street and asked if he could pet Bayley. This guy spent a good couple of minutes scratching him, hugging him, telling him how beautiful he was. Bayley was eating it up. Then he told me he just lost his dog and that it felt good just to pet another dog. My heart sank, but I totally knew what he meant. It just feels good to get some love from a dog.
I walked away with a giant smile on my face knowing that my dog made that random guy on the street so happy and brightened his day.
Owning a dog is not 100% love 100% of the time. There are definitely moments when I think to myself, why on earth am I taking care of this pain the butt animal. When he jumps on my friends when they come over to our apartment, or when he whines to me during the day because he would rather be outside playing. There are many moments of frustration.
But all of those moments added up do not even come close to negating the fact that animals bring so much happiness into a home.
My all-time favorite thing that someone said to Bayley on one of our walks: "That dog sure does love life."
Yes ..... yes, he does.
So for Bayley's birthday this year, he got hugs + I got a bowl of soba noodles with a ginger tahini dressing with lots of greens. Because I was more in the mood to celebrate with a bowl of soba noodles than a piece of cake.
I could eat this every day of my life and be happy. There is something about the creaminess of the tahini that gets me excited. Since I stopped eating dairy, it's the healthiest way for me to get a creamy fix.
It's no secret that I love a big bowl of noodles or a big bowl of greens, so combining the two is just double happiness for me.
The great thing about this dish is you can add any type of green or vegetable that you like, it goes with just about anything. Collards, swiss chard, carrots, cucumbers + tomatoes when the summer comes back around. Same thing goes with pairing this dish. You can add soba and tahini to so many meals as a side dish, or you can just eat it alone for lunch. Yum.
I think I am going to make this every year for Bayley's birthday, and for many of the days in-between.