Parmesan Butternut Squash

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Sometimes simple ingredients come together to make the perfect dish. With only four ingredients, this side dish is easy to make yet so tasty. I don’t normally add much salt to my vegetables, but the saltiness of the cheese really put this squash on another level. It tastes as sweet as always but with perfect contrast. I could eat this for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The only trick to know here is that the squash can’t be crowded in the pan, or it won’t brown; it will steam. It may seem like an unnecessary effort to use two pans, but it caramelizes the squash so it tastes like something you’d get at a restaurant.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with foil and coat with olive oil spray.
  2. Use a knife or a vegetable peeler to remove the skin from the butternut squash. Cut it in half and remove the seeds; then cut into small pieces.
  3. Put half of the squash on each baking sheet, being sure to leave lots of room for the pieces to brown. Drizzle a half-teaspoon of oil over each baking sheet, and use your hands to mix the oil into the squash. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes at 425 degrees. Remove the pans from the oven, stir the squash, and return the pans to the oven, but switch the pans—the pan that was on the top rack should now be on the bottom rack. 2014-10-31 18.57.10
  5. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees and bake the squash for 15 minutes more.
  6. Remove squash from the oven and sprinkle each pan with parmesan cheese. Stir and serve.

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Serves 4. Active time 15 minutes; total time 55 minutes. Adapted from http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2013/11/roasted-butternut-squash-with-pine-nuts-and-parmesan/

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Simple Sauteed Chard

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This recipe is an easy way to get greens into your diet—and it’s delicious! Chard is my favorite green because it tastes buttery when cooked. I use the red or rainbow variety because the colors are pretty, but the white stems taste just as good.

Chard leaves are deep green with veins that thicken as they approach the stem. Before you start cooking, separate the stems and leaves, as the stems take longer to cook. The red stems smell like beets when they hit the pan and start to sizzle! I usually cover the pan once I add the leaves, and the steam helps them to wilt quickly.

Chard has enough flavor to be eaten plain, but I wanted to jazz it up to serve to guests. The lemon-infused olive oil did the trick; lemon zest would work, too. I served this with chicken and mashed potatoes, but it also works as a bed for fish or even as a side for eggs. If you have leftovers, stir them into pasta or soup.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb Swiss chard (a large bunch)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon olive oil (or 1 tsp oil and 1 tsp lemon zest)
  • 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
  • salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Separate the chard stems from leaves. Rinse everything and dry very well in a salad spinner. Cut the stems into 1-inch pieces, and cut the leaves into 1-inch strips. IMG_5393
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium in a large skillet. Add the chard stems and saute for 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.
  3. Add the leaves and cover the pan. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leaves wilt.
  4. Add the lemon oil, vinegar, and salt. Cook for another 2 minutes on low and serve.

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Serves 2 to 3. Active time 20 minutes; total time 25 minutes. Adapted from http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sauteed-swiss-chard-recipe.html

Black Bean & Butternut Quinoa Salad

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This hearty, flavorful bowl of quinoa, beans, and squash was a shining moment in my 15-degree winter evening. I’ve been craving heavy food, particularly as my meat-free January comes to a close. Thanks to this recipe, I didn’t sneak out to get a burger or chicken fingers (which I would regret for GERD-related reasons as much as for breaking my meat fast).

This recipe also made clear how much I’ve been missing black beans. Before heartburn, I always paired them with tomato, onion, and jalepeno—and they’ve been off the menu because I didn’t know how else to cook them. It turns out black beans are just as great in a more subtly flavored dish. I love their firm mouthfeel, and the color looks interesting against the red quinoa.

I used leftover lemon-rosemary dipping oil in this recipe, but lemon zest would work too. I hate to buy a lemon knowing that I’m going to throw it away after zesting, due to the acidity of the juice. Flavored olive oil is less expensive than zest in the long run. I plan to buy another bottle when this one runs out.

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This salad is satisfying either hot or at room temperature. When the leftovers are reheated, they even keep their herb flavors since I added so much parsley and cilantro. This meal is such a pleasure to eat.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup red quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 15.5-oz can black beans
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked butternut squash (If you don’t have leftovers, peel, cube, and roast for 35 min at 425 degrees)
  • 1 oz goat cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp lemon olive oil (or 1 1/2 tsp olive oil + 2 tsp lemon zest)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer under cool water. Place in a medium pot with the broth and bring to a boil. Add the oregano, onion powder, and cumin. Stir, lower the heat, and simmer until nearly all of the liquid is absorbed—mine took 18 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, rinse and drain the black beans. If your squash was cooked in the skin, chop it into small cubes.
  3. When almost all of the liquid has been absorbed by the quinoa, stir in the black beans, squash, and goat cheese. Allow to sit for 2 minutes and stir again, incorporating the cheese into the dish. IMG_5033
  4. Drizzle the quinoa with vinegar and oil, and shut off the heat. Stir in the parsley and cilantro and serve.

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Serves 4. Active time 25 minutes; total time 30 minutes.

Creamy Triple Mushroom Soup

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This soup has more mushroom flavor than any dish I’ve ever had. It reminds me of the mushroom pierogi my Mom gets from the Polish deli at Christmastime. I go nuts over those things, and I was thrilled by the bold flavor of this soup. As my first time using dried mushrooms, it turned out so well.

Mushrooms are satiating in the way meat is, and this was a great recipe to make during my meat-free January. However, I ran into the same issue I have with meat: After a certain amount, I just can’t eat any more. Maybe it’s too much umami, or perhaps my body only accepts my beloved carbs after a certain point.

Anyway, I wasn’t able to eat a full bowl of this a dinner soup. Instead, I had a small serving of it with a salad (lightly dressed with olive oil and rice vinegar). I recommend serving this as a first course—but if you have company, make sure they like mushrooms!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 oz mixed dried mushrooms (I used porcini, shiitake & oyster)
  • 3 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  • 8 oz white mushrooms, sliced
  • 12 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 4 tsp flour
  • 1 1/4 cups 1% milk
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 cup packed mixed greens (I used baby spinach, kale & chard)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • sea salt

DIRECTIONS

  1. Rinse the dried mushrooms under warm water. Boil the broth in medium saucepan and remove from heat. Add the dried mushrooms and let them soak for 15 minutes. Drain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, reserving the broth but discarding any sediment. Coarsely chop the dried mushrooms. IMG_5008
  2. While mushrooms are soaking, heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium. Add the carrots and cook for 5 minutes. Add the white and baby bella mushrooms and saute until browned, about 8 minutes. (Add a splash of water if it looks like they will burn.) Add the thyme, oregano, onion powder, and dried mushrooms and saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms; stir for 1 minute. IMG_5011
  4. Stir in the reserved broth and then the milk. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the miso paste and greens. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the parsley and cook for 1 minute. IMG_5015
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in the rice vinegar. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until completely smooth. Add salt to taste (I did 10 grinds from a sea salt grinder), and serve sprinkled with parsley leaves.
Serves 6. Active time 35 minutes; total time 50 minutes. Adapted from http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Wild-Mushroom-Soup-106299

Spiced Pumpkin & Coconut Soup

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The spice blend and a bit of light coconut milk make this soup Thai inspired. The flavor blend is interesting and strong enough that it’s not immediately clear that the soup is pumpkin based. That means you can serve it any season of the year, not just in pumpkin season!

Coconut milk is delicious, but it gives my heartburn a lot of grief. I use the light version, which has less than half the fat of regular, but I still had trouble with the original half-cup of coconut milk in this recipe. Downgrading to a quarter-cup solved the problem, but it does take away some of the richness. You’ll have to test it and see what works for you.

This soup is thick without being cream-based. It’s possible to puree it completely, but I like to leave some small chunks, particularly of the apples. If you prefer it to be completely smooth, I recommend peeling the apple and adding 10 extra minutes to the final simmering time. Then go nuts with your immersion blender.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 Gala apple, diced small
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 15-oz can plain pumpkin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • salt
  • parsley and sliced almonds for garnish

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DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and line a large baking sheet with foil and cooking spray. Add carrots and apples, spray surfaces with cooking spray, and roast for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium, and saute celery for 5 minutes. Add spices, sugar, broth, and pumpkin and stir until smooth.
  3. Stir in the roasted carrots and apples, and bring the mixture to a boil. Drop the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk.
  4. Using an immersion blender, carefully blend to your desired consistency. Add salt to taste. Serve with parsley and sliced almonds as garnish.

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Serves 4. Adapted from http://www.hellawella.com/hellawella-recipe-indian-roasted-pumpkin-soup/2514