Roasted butternut squash is so delicious, and because spinach stands up well, the leftovers are just as good as when you first make it.
Begin by peeling and roasting the squash. Cut off the top and bottom ends, and separate the neck from the bulbous portion. Use a vegetable peeler to take off the skin, and carefully scoop out all the seeds. Cut the squash into one inch squares and toss them in olive oil. Spread them over a baking sheet and season them with salt and pepper. Roast them in a 425 degree oven until they are soft and the edges have blackened.
Meanwhile, rinse and dry the spinach and lay it out on a platter or serving dish. If you are using a lot of spinach, you will have to toss it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and vinegar, but if there is relatively little spinach to the amount of squash you are cooking, the squash alone may provide all the seasoning you need for the spinach once it is mixed together. When the squash is done, put the hot, oily squash right on the spinach leaves. Crumble goat cheese over the top and add a sprinkling of pine nuts. Drizzle all of it with balsamic vinegar and stir it a little to combine.
Here is a salad I made and fell in love with. I prefer this with greens you can cook, like baby kale, baby spinach, or chard because the leftovers will hold up well instead of turning into lettuce soup.
greens from a hefty salad mix
walnuts, toasted if you care
If you are toasting the walnuts you can just stir them in a pan set over a medium high flame. Don't walk away! When they turn just a little bit golden and extra fragrant, turn off the flame and pour them into another container. If you leave them in the pan they may burn.
If you need to seed your pomegranate, just quarter it and rip it apart underwater in a bowl. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl and everything else will float. Pour off the top of the water with all the floating bits that look like styrofoam, and then strain the seeds. This is the easiest method I have found.
Plate the greens and pile on the cheese, walnuts, and pomegranates to taste. Drizzle healthy amounts of olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the whole thing. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
At least fifteen years ago my grandparents went on an educational cruise through the Greek Isles and asked if I would like a souvenir. Yes! A Greek cookbook, in Greek! They lovingly obliged and returned with two copies of the same book, one printed in English and the other in Greek.
Mediterranean food was the rage then, and Italian food was held up as the model of all things healthy, so I was pretty sure I knew what Greek food would be like: light, practically vegetarian, and healthy according to the beliefs of the time. What I saw in this cookbook horrified me. Instead of perusing light, healthy, low-calorie, fat-free, vegetarian recipes containing only a drizzle of olive oil, I found what might, after all, be the real deal. Eggplant fried in copious quantities of olive oil, meats, liver, snails, butter, potatoes, more butter, whole pigs on spits, and béchamel sauce. Ew.
Mrs. Seferiadis, a friend and an amazing Greek cook, agreed to teach me the secret to the best Greek cooking. The secret? I don't think she'll mind if I share this- butter. BUTTER!?! We made spanakopita, pastitsio, butter cookies, and baklava, all oozing with butter, and all delicious.
Back then the only recipe I could be sure wouldn't kill me and clog my arteries was Village Salad, and I made it regularly. So here it is.
3 firm tomatoes
1 red onion
2 green peppers, peeled of most of their skin and seeded
1 cup of black olives
6 oz. feta cheese
1 tablespoon of capers
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
oregano, salt, and pepper
Cut the tomatoes and cucumbers into slices and the onion and the peppers into rings. Put it in a bowl and sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano, and olives. Cut the feta cheese into chunks and add to the other ingredients. Pour the olive oil and vinegar over the salad. Toss. Eat. Enjoy.
I owe this bit of genius to my baby sister. It was the result of a low-carb phase during a Persian salad streak. I am never excited by the idea of a radish, but this is one of those light, refreshing mixes that you can't stop eating. Leftovers the next day are still good. Refresh it with a light sprinkle of salt and another squeeze of lime, and eat it next to an omelette or buttered toast.
green onions or a shallot
parsley or cilantro or a mixture
lemon or lime
salt and pepper
If you are using a shallot, slice it thinly and put it in the salad bowl with a little salt and lemon or lime juice while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. If you use green onion, slice it thinly. Cut up the radishes any way you like. I used my new benriner, and even though I felt a little ridiculous putting that much effort into it, the results were beautiful. Chop up the herbs and toss it all together. Add a drizzle of olive oil, plenty of lemon or lime juice, and lots of feta cheese. Taste it and season it with salt and pepper.
The salad is now perfect as is, but if you have any leftover roasted vegetables, toss them in. Last night I had a roasted beet and a bulb or two of roasted fennel. Roasted cauliflower improves any salad. Give it a try!
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1/4 cup minced mint
1/4 cup minced parsley
2 teaspoons ground sumac
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup olive oil
6 scallions, thinly sliced
4 cloves of minced garlic
4 medium ripe tomatoes, cored, seeded, and minced
3 medium cucumbers, seeded and minced
2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 large white onion, minced
juice and zest of 3 lemons
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and allow it to sit 20 minutes before serving.
After a rapturous experience with Berkeley's Kitchen on Fire my baby sister came home with an arsenal of Moroccan recipes and a taste for fennel. She made a fennel salad and insisted I try it. She proudly presented me with her new creation before I remembered to tell her just how much I hate licorice and anything that reminds me of it. Ouch.
One bite and I was hooked. I have been addicted to fennel ever since. Perrin makes it with homemade croutons, but I either throw in a bag of the Trader Joe’s garlic croutons or leave them out altogether. I have also added feta cheese and parsley and that was great too. It refrigerates very well since there is nothing in it to wilt. One caveat: this is the world’s crunchiest salad, particularly if you include the croutons. Your meal companions had better eat it too. Here is the recipe.
Perrin’s Fennel Salad
2 bulbs of fennel
1 can of black olives
salt and pepper
Cut the fennel in half, and then cut out the core. Using the green leafy part as a handle, slice the bulb as thinly as possible. If you have a food processor this works really well. Toss in the olives and then give it a few glugs of olive oil, juice of at least 2 lemons, and plenty of salt and pepper. If you taste it and you're bored you need to add more lemon and salt. If your teeth squeak when you bite down you might need to add more olive oil. Don't be shy with the pepper either!
Delicious add-ins are parsley, feta, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and hearts of palm. Because there is no lettuce in it, the salad lasts really well for a few days, although you might have to adjust the seasonings a little bit.
I have never made a crouton in my life, so here is how Perrin does it in case you are inspired.
Here is a quick demonstration of how to cut fennel if you've never done it:
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!