A post-holiday repast
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Early Friday morning, I ate the last remaining Christmas cookie in the house and knew without a doubt the holidays had come to an end.
It’s always kind of a relief to bid farewell to the edible excesses of the season, and in an effort to recalibrate my metabolism, I spent the rest of the weekend attempting to make up for the previous five weeks of overindulgence.
For Friday night’s dinner, I prepared tacos using ground turkey instead of beef, and used the mixture—along with plenty of lettuce and sauteed veggies—in corn and wheat tortillas rather than flour.
The leftover turkey and savory vegetables were used for Saturday night’s repast, when I paired them with an organic wild rice mixture for a healthier version of Rice-A-Roni.
Both meals got a solid thumbs-up from my dining partner, but it wasn’t until I presented him with Sunday night’s roasted delicata squash and kale salad that I knew I had a sure winner.
I’d spent the previous day taking advantage of warmer temperatures by getting some projects done outside. One of the chores involved harvesting the last of the summer-planted kale from one of our backyard raised beds, and I wanted to make sure the greens were used in a timely manner. And after Googling “winter salad,” I realized the delicata squash I’d harvested and stored in the shed would also pair well with the greens.
I loosely followed the recipe posted here, but took a few liberties with additional toppings. For example, I rescued a couple of medium-sized beets that had been hanging out in the produce drawer since friends from Lummi Island shared their community garden goods a couple of months ago, and cut them into bite-sized pieces to roast with the squash. I had about a cup of wild rice left over from the previous night’s meal, and threw that into the finished mix, as well.
I lacked the dried cranberries the recipe called for, and instead used the remnants of a jar of cranberry sauce last seen on the Christmas dinner table as the base for the lemon and olive oil dressing. Chopped up chunks of brie that were the remnants of a New Year’s Eve cocktail party completed the salad.
I’d roasted a five-pound chicken while the delicata and beets were cooking, and the roasted squash and kale salad paired perfectly with the protein.
“This salad is so complex and lively,” my dinner date said as he dug into his dinner. “It’s definitely the best meal you’ve made all year.”
With winter farmers markets taking place this weekend in Anacortes and next Saturday at Bellingham Depot Market Square—where they’ll continue monthly until spring—you can also stock up on seasonal and local produce designed to get you through the cold months with your waistline intact. I’m out of kale, so I’ll likely see you there.
Squash and Kale Salad
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (divided)
1 medium-sized delicata squash, seeded and sliced into thin rounds (no need to peel)
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 large bunch of curly kale, tough stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Flaky sea salt for serving
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the oven until tender, about 18-20 minutes. Flip the squash halfway through cooking.
While the squash cooks, heat a small, dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add the hazelnuts and toast until lightly brown and fragrant, about 5-8 minutes. Shake the pan often while toasting. Once cool enough to handle, roughly chop the hazelnuts.
In a large bowl, massage the kale with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Massage the oil and juice into the kale until it becomes tender and turns bright green, about 2 minutes.
Add the roasted squash, toasted hazelnuts and dried cranberries to the kale. Season with flaky sea salt and serve.
(Use this recipe as a guide. Adjust measurements and ingredients as necessary.)
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