Welcome to Fall. The season officially began on Monday at 3:50am, but it doesn’t feel like Fall. The air is still very warm, it was muggy on Monday morning. Where are the beautiful orange leaves and cool breezes? When will the comforting signs of Fall arrive?
Fall is my favorite season of the year. I love walking on the crunchy leaves and pulling-out my cozy sweaters to wear during the cool mornings. I especially enjoy the flavors of Fall, and I’m not referring to the ubiquitous Pumpkin-Spice Latte! Winter squash, sweet potatoes, hearty greens, Brussels Sprouts…these are my favorite foods to eat. Luckily, my amazing CSA share from One Straw Farm always provides me with plenty of options for squash!
As you can already guess, I try to eat as seasonally as I can. Despite the availability of strawberries in the middle of the winter, that’s not when I want to enjoy strawberries! Now that it’s officially Fall, it’s time to eat the seasonal bounty. These are the foods that my body craves as the weather begins to finally cool off from the oppressive summer heat. And it’s the arrival of winter squash that makes me most excited!
There’s more to eating seasonally than consuming the foods which are harvested in the particular season. I consider the energetic properties of the foods and how everything I eat will “behave” in my body. For example, in the hot summer, I naturally want to eat cool foods, raw foods, foods full of hydration - such as cucumber and watermelon. As the weather cools, it’s time to nourish my body with foods that are a bit more substantial, more dense and filling. Vegetables that must be cooked rather than consumed raw. That doesn’t mean that I forget about my salads altogether; but rather, I make wilted or braised greens as the base of my salad, such as my Warm Kale Ribbons.
But back to the squash. Delicata Squash is the easiest winter squash to prepare. Why? Its thin skin is edible - even delicious - so no peeling is required. The seeds inside of this beautiful squash are edible (although I don’t make the effort to roast them). The flesh is soft, buttery, and mildly flavored. Did you know that every year, lots of people seriously injure themselves trying to peel and hack open Butternut Squash. Do yourself a favor and start simple with Delicata squash!
While the weather has been unusually warm this week, I’ve been feasting on this salad. Repeatedly. The flavors and textures are so satisfying to me, the colors are visually stunning. Maybe the leaves outside will start turning a beautiful orange hue soon, too. All too soon, the we’ll be complaining about how blustery and cold it is outside! But for now, I’m soaking-in the sunshine and eating plenty of roasted squash.
What’s your favorite Fall food? Tell me!
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
Sweet & Spicy Squash Salad with Crunchy Chickpeas
Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible)
2 cans chickpeas, rinsed & drained
1 1/2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 t kosher salt
1 Delicata squash
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 t kosher salt
1 large bunch Lacinato kale (also called Tuscan or Dino Kale)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 T honey
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 t red pepper flakes
1/4 t sea salt
1/2 C pepitas
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pour chickpeas onto a rimmed baking sheet and pat dry, using a clean dish towel. Drizzle extra-virgin olive oil over the top of the chickpeas and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven to stir chickpeas, then continue to bake for another 25-30 minutes. Periodically stir the chickpeas so they don’t burn. The chickpeas will turn golden brown and crunchy. Remove from the baking sheet to a plate and allow to cool to room temperature.
While the chickpeas are roasting, prep the Delicata squash. Cut the squash in half, from stem to base, and scrape-out the seeds from inside. Slice the squash into half-moons, approximately 1/2-inch thick. Set aside.
Prep the kale. Rinse kale under cool water, pat dry to remove as much moisture as possible. Divide the bunch in half. Stack the leaves into a pile on a cutting board and slice crosswise into 1/2”-thick pieces (ribbons). Repeat with the remaining kale.
Once chickpeas are roasted and removed from the baking sheet, place the squash pieces onto the sheet and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and kosher salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes, flipping each piece over half-way through, until each side of the squash is browned. Remove from the oven to cool slightly.
While the squash is roasting, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the extra-virgin olive oil. Pour the kale pieces into the hot skillet - be careful - if there’s any water on the kale, it will splash in the hot oil. Toss the kale in the hot oil and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the kale begins to wilt. Remove from the skillet to a serving bowl or platter.
Mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
To serve, pile the squash, crispy chickpeas and pepitas over the top of the kale. Drizzle the dressing over the top of the salad and serve at room temperature.
recipe yields 3-4 servings
leftovers keep well, in a covered container in the refrigerator, for 2-3 days; chickpeas will not remain crispy, but will still taste delicious
substitute Acorn squash or sweet potato for the Delicata squash, if desired
substitute sliced almonds or chopped walnuts for the pepitas, if desired