Giving Thanks with a little leafy green...
On any given day I will eat up to two salads. That probably has some people cringing while mouthing the word, “boring” because salads can be so basic. Especially if you’re idea of one includes chopped iceberg, edges browning, cold mushy tomatoes and a few sprigs of leftover tasteless chicken. But to me, well, I can create and enjoy more salad ideas than I can record here, and one that comes to mind this season is one with roasted squash and little pom jewels that burst in your mouth with creamy goat cheese and a dressing you’ll want to put on all your other green leafy things and that to me is just magic… and so I find the notion of a fall salad dreamy! So nix your old definition of that sorry salad and toss it for this one.
In light of Thanksgiving, I feel compelled to share this truth with you that was brought to my attention years ago when attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. The Energy of Food. As you increase your awareness about the foods you consume, consider that each has its own unique energy beyond vitamins, minerals, fats and carbs. Food has distinct qualities and energetic properties, depending upon where, when and how it grows as well as how it is prepared! Did you ever taste food that was made with such love, compassion and confidence that you swore it tasted differently than when you prepared it yourself?! My mom’s eggplant parm will forever be superior to mine just because it is made with her loving, hardworking hands. The energy is evident!
Steve Gagne, author of Energetics of Food: Encounters with your Most Intimate Relationships, says that all food has essential character. Regarding plant food, let’s take greens such as kale, collards and arugula, they reach up toward the sun, soaking up the chlorophyll. Eating foods that are rich in chlorophyll provides our blood with oxygen and thus has alkaline properties which help our body stay balanced, reduce inflammation and assist in better immunity. For this reason, greens are powerful mood enhancers, lifting up the spirit. Squash (butternut is included in this recipe) grow level with the ground and help balance moods and energy levels. Beets and carrots, which are root vegetables, grow into the ground and absorb nutrients from the soil in which they grow (I included fennel in this recipe which are part of the carrot family)! Therefore they have a strong downward energy and are great for grounding us when we feel over stimulated.
And so I’m not sure which came first for me, knowing consciously how good I feel when I sauté greens with my eggs and avocado and chop up a variety of raw veggies to eat with a scoop of hummus and baked eggplant or knowing the truth that these foods will help get me out of my rut. Either way, as time has passed and these foods have made it into my “sustainable diet” my penchant for decadent salads has skyrocketed. This year, bring along this baby to your Thanksgiving feast and see how guests respond to the love, flavor and energy you’ll be serving up!
Roasted Butternut Squash & Pomegranate with Garlicky Honey-Dijon Dressing
Serves 4 - 6
· 3 tablespoons olive oil
· 4 cups ½-inch cubes peeled butternut squash
· 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
· ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
· ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
· 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
· 1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard
· 1 tablespoon honey
· 1 clove garlic, grated or smashed into a paste
· ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
· ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
· 3 tablespoons olive oil
· 5 cups baby arugula
· ½ cup pomegranate seeds* (see Tip)
· ¼ cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
· ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
· ½ cup crumbled goat cheese (4 ounces)
· ½ bulb of fennel, very thinly sliced (cut into “c” shape)
· Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and pour 2 tablespoons of the oil on the lined sheet. Place the oiled sheet in the oven (yep, nothing on it) and heat until very hot but not smoking, about 8 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, toss the squash with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the salt, pepper, and cayenne until coated. Using an oven mitt, remove the hot baking sheet from the oven and quickly pour the squash onto the sheet. Roast until the undersides are golden, about 15 minutes. Flip for another 15 minutes. Let cool to room temp or just warm before adding to greens.
3. Make the dressing. In a screw-top jar, shake the vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, salt, pepper, and oil until it’s creamy. (If it separates, just shake it again.)
4. Makes the salad. Arrange the arugula on a platter. Top with the roasted squash, pomegranate seeds, and pumpkin seeds. Scatter the onion and goat cheese on top. Drizzle with the dressing to taste and sprinkle with pepper.