Basil Lime Pumpkin Salad

This is a surprisingly light tasting salad for having not only chewy pearl barley but roasted pumpkin. I think it’s the dressing and all the fresh spinach.

If you make extra dressing, and I suggest that you do – it pairs great with a more traditional salad, simple cold noodles, and even as a dip for chicken or shrimp. It’s delicious.

vegetarian, vegan

Basil Lime Pumpkin Salad

1 big wedge pumpkin or a butternut squash

Baby spinach

2 large scallions

1/2 cup basil

2 cloves garlic

4 Tablespoons lime juice

2 green chilis

1/2 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup stock

1.5 cups water

Olive oil

Neutral oil

Smoked paprika

Garlic powder

Cumin

Salt & pepper

Optional: crispy chickpeas (this is one of my favorite brands)

First, get your pumpkin and barley working.

Preheat your oven to 200C/375F and prepare a baking sheet.

Peel the pumpkin and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Toss with a few good glugs neutral oil and liberal sprinkles of the smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

Roast 25 mins or until soft and your desired brownness is reached. I could have let mine go another 5 – 10 mins, but I was impatient so mine turned out soft and only a little browned.

Put the barley in your cooking vessel of choice with the stock and water + a liberal sprinkle of salt. If your stock doesn’t have any fat in it, a Tablespoon of olive oil is good here. Cook according to package directions. I cooked mine in a rice cooker by hitting the ‘rice’ button.

While both those are working, slice the scallions thin. Add half to your blender or food processor.

Add the spinach, basil, garlic cloves, lime juice, chilis (rough chopped and de-seeded if necessary), 5 Tablespoons olive oil, and liberal sprinkles salt and pepper. Whiz to combine, adding a few Tablespoons of water if your mixture is too dry for your appliance. I ended up adding about 3 Tablespoons.

Taste for seasoning and add more acid or salt if needed.

To assemble, toss the pumpkin and second half of the scallions together. Add the spinach and toss. Add the barley to the top while still warm to semi-wilt the spinach. Toss, adding the dressing halfway through.

Taste the whole mix together, adding any salt or pepper if necessary. I added a big sprinkle of finishing salt to mine. I also finished each serving with a generous sprinkle of crunchy spiced chickpeas. This salad makes an excellent chickpea delivery service. Bonus: added protein!

Makes enough to serve as a side for a party or for 4 for dinner

Roasted Squash & Barley Pilaf

This recipe is 100% inspired by one of my good friends & a master of all things philosophical, @Heidi. (It’s a NF forum thing)

I love her no-fuss approach to food and how she seeks meaning in what she uses to fuel her body.

This recipe is an interpretation of the flavor combinations she mentioned in a daily update post (I haven’t mentioned my fitness community lately, but if you’re looking for a great group of people to help give you a nudge going into 2021, check Nerd Fitness out).

I think we all need a little more @Heidi in our lives. For more reasons than that – hellooooo, badass.

Vegetarian, vegan

Roasted Squash & Barley Pilaf

1 cup Pearl barley (buckwheat groats would be a good gluten-free sub)

1 cup good stock

1 cup water

Big pinch salt

Good olive oil

Neutral oil

1 sprig rosemary

1/2 butternut squash

Curry powder

Large shallot

500g baby spinach

Garlic oil

1 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Big hand full smoked almonds

Cook your barley with the stock, water and a generous pinch salt in a rice cooker or according to package directions.

Preheat your oven to 375F/200C. Prepare a baking sheet with a silicone mat or baking paper.

While the barley is working, peel your butternut, seed, and chop into roughly 1/2 inch cubes. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet, sprinkle liberally with neutral oil, salt, pepper and curry powder. Toss to combine. Bake 30-40 minutes or until nicely browned.

While those are going, set a medium pan over medium/medium-high heat. Spritz a couple of times with garlic oil. Rough chop a large shallot and add to the pan. Sautee until beginning to brown. Add some salt & pepper + the nutmeg and the spinach. Toss and cook until beginning to wilt.

When the barley is done, add the red wine vinegar, a finely chopped sprig of Rosemary (about 1Tbsp.), 1 tsp. oregano, and a couple glugs good olive oil. Stir to combine and gently fold in the squash & spinach.

Rough chop the almonds and use for garnish.

If you’ve got figs or pomegranate seeds (or both!) they would make fantastic additions. Finishing salt would also not go amiss.

Subsequent reheats are great with a fresh splash of vinegar and a touch extra fat to bring everything together. A shake of chili would also work well.

Serves 4 for dinner

Pumpkin Hummus With Orzo

Ok, so I’m on a bit of a pumpkin kick. And a grain/harvest/Buddha/nourish/whatever zeitgeisty thing you want to call it bowl kick. Again.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know I love a good bowl. I think I first got started down that track right about when this blog started, and I’ve never really looked back. Bowls FTW. Plates be damned.

This version can either go the Instagram route with an artful swirl of hummus to the side, or is also great all mushed together like a creamy pasta sauce. Either way you slice it: yum. I also love this hummus as a dip and swirled into my breakfast oatmeal.

Note: The addition of date molasses in this recipe was a point of contention in this household. I liked the sweetness and thought it brought good balance, but DH was not a fan.

gluten-free if you swap the orzo, vegetarian, vegan

Pumpkin Hummus Grain Bowl

1 cup orzo, rice, quinoa, barley – whatever grain you fancy – cooked in veggie stock

300g baby spinach

1 – 2 cups pumpkin, chopped

2 tsp. date molasses (optional)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp. turmeric

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 cup smoked almonds, chopped

First, drizzle your pumpkin with 1 Tbsp. neutral oil, sprinkle liberally with cumin, salt and pepper and bake at 200C/375F for 20 – 30 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking.

prepare your grain, mixing the spinach in during the last 30 seconds or so. Drain and add to a large bowl.

Add the baked pumpkin to a food processor, along with the date molasses (if using), lemon juice, turmeric, olive oil, and garlic. Whiz to form a hummus. Taste for salt and add as needed.

To serve, either create a bowl topped with the chopped almonds and parsley or combine together

Serves 2 – 4 for dinner with some hummus leftover if you create individual bowls

Fall Pumpkin & Orange Salad

I think I found my Thanksgiving pumpkin-centric side for this year. I made this first round with sushi rice because that was what I had on hand, and it was great. Soft, almost creamy, and filling.

For Thanksgiving, I think I’ll swap the soft rice for something with more chew – either a wild rice mix or maybe pearl barley – and bump the orange and dill up a bit for more of a punch that will stand up to DH’s bourbon honey ham.

EDIT: I did end up making this for Thanksgiving, and it was fantastic. I used a mixture of wild and basmati rices for the grains and went for a curry spiced pumpkin instead of the molasses – both versions were great. I also beefed up the dill a little, which was also welcome.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Fall Pumpkin & Orange Salad

Take:

2-3 cups chopped pumpkin or other orange squash

And toss with:

1 Tbsp. date molasses

2 Tbsp. neutral oil

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

Salt & pepper

Bake at 220C/400F for 30 – 40 minutes or until deeply browned. Add to a large bowl.

While the pumpkin is working, make some ginger rice by combining the following and cooking however you cook your grains.

1 cup rice or grains

2 cups water

2 coins sliced ginger

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

When the rice is done, toss out the ginger and combine the warm rice & squash with:

1/2 inch ginger, minced

3 Tbsp. good olive oil

2 scallions, minced

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

1/2 tsp. black pepper

3 Tbsp. dill, chopped

2 Tbsp. peanut butter

2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard (Maille is my favorite)

4 clementines, supremed, with the juice squeezed out of the leftover bits

2 tsp. turmeric

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

Serves 4-6

Pumpkin Grain Bowl

This dish is great warm, room temperature or slightly chilled – making it perfect for your next get-together.

Pumpkin Grain Bowl

1.5 cups chopped pumpkin (or any variety orangey squash)

1 carrot, shredded

1 cucumber, ribboned

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

2 cups wild rice mix (quinoa would also be good – you want something with a bit of body to it)

Crispy fried chickpeas (mine were pre-seasoned and halved)

2 scallions, chopped

1 Tbsp. turmeric olive oil (substitute with adding a little turmeric to your favorite oil )

2 tsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. curry powder

Dressing

1/4 cup turmeric olive oil

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Juice of 2 limes

2 Tbsp. dijon or whole grain mustard

1 tsp. mustard seeds

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

Lay your chopped pumpkin out on a prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the Tablespoon of oil over top and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 Tablespoon curry powder, salt and pepper. Bake at 200C/375F for 30 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown. Remove.

While the pumpkin is working, cook your rice or other grains however you cook rice. Set aside.

Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk.

To assemble, combine all but the crispy chickpeas in a large bowl, adding the chickpeas as you serve so they don’t get soggy.

Serves 4 for dinner and more as a light lunch

Avocado Dill Pasta Salad

This recipe started off as a way to use up some fresh dill that wasn’t my favorite egg salad and somehow ended up morphing into a riff of an old Summer family favorite: seafood salad. Which I can’t believe I haven’t shared a recipe with y’all for yet. I c-r-a-v-e it every tomato season.

The original (to my family at least) salad included Krab, shrimp, hard boiled eggs & lots of mayo. Sometimes, depending upon which Aunt got a wild hair, chopped up bits of lettuce. Which is weird, but good.

Anyways. I gave myself an aversion to fake crab my first Summer out of high school (reminder, kids: check your expiration dates), so that was out. I swapped with flaked salmon but kept the shrimp in this version; I also sadly forgot the egg until I was eating trying to figure out what was missing. I was also wanting a little more mustard punch, so adjust yours as necessary.

And a note on seasoning: I happen to love this salad with way too much pepper and salt, because that’s how my family usually served it. This recipe includes a normal amount of each (depending on how HAM you go with the cracked pepper); I had to go back twice for more after the salad hit the fridge.

gluten-free, pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan with substitutions

Avocado Dill Pasta Salad

Dressing:

1 avocado (mine was small and I could have gone for more)

2 cloves garlic

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. water

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salad:

4 – 6 cups pasta of choice (I used rice spirals)

15 cherry tomatoes

1 smallish cucumber (about 2/3 cup chopped)

1 smallish bell pepper (about 1 cup chopped)

2 – 4 stalks celery (about 3/4 cup chopped)

1/2 shallot, minced

2 scallions, chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp. celery seed (if using celery salt instead, you may not need to salt the salad – taste, taste, taste)

Loads of fresh cracked black pepper

Salt

Shrimp (I used 13 medium), peeled, cooked & chopped (optional)

Krab, crab or salmon (also optional)

2 – 3 Tbsp. your favorite mayo (optional)

Start you pasta boiling according to package directions, taking care to salt the water. When almost done, chuck your shrimp in to cook. Drain and set aside.

Pull the shrimp and chop. Add to a large bowl.

Chop the cucumber, bell pepper, celery, scallion and parsley. Add to the big bowl.

Mince the shallot and add. Halve the tomatoes and add those too. Add the celery seed.

In a blender or food processor, blitz all dressing ingredients until smooth. If you want your dressing a little runny, add more water until desired consistency is reached. Mine turned out a bit thick, which I liked, but I ended up adding 2 – 3 Tbsp. Kewpie mayo to the salad to loosen it a bit.

Add the cooled-ish pasta and dressing to the bowl. Mix well to combine. Hit with a bunch of pepper. Taste. Add more salt, lemon juice or some mayo to finish off.

Stash in the fridge for a bit to chill and let the flavors get acquainted.

Serves 4 – 6 for a meal or more if a side

Shaved Zucchini + Stone Fruit Salad

I love a good end-of-Summer savory fruit salad. It’s kind of a yearly thing with my brain, and I’m here for it.

Stone Fruit Salad

Lots of peach salad recipes

This is no exception to that rule. This salad is about as light as one would expect, but works well. I worried that the zucchini wouldn’t be great, but it was; even raw. The key here is to peel it into ribbons. I used my regular vegetable peeler. My ribbons weren’t even, but they were delicious.

So much so, I can’t really say this is more than a 1-person meal. I mean, sure, you can feed 2 if you want to throw a main in, but I managed to knock it out in a second helping at lunch.

If you can’t find the Kewpie dressing, a nice sesame would be good. So would my love pomegranate molasses. Balsamic would also work really well. Grapefruit would play nicely.

I had also meant to grab some good vegan Feta for this salad but forgot. It would be nice and would definitely help fill this out to more of a meal, but wasn’t necessary.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo

Shaved Zucchini + Stone Fruit Salad

1 large zucchini, ribboned thinly

1/2 shallot, minced

1 plum, chopped

3Tbsp. Kewpie no-oil Yuzu dressing

1Tbsp. your favorite neutral oil

2Tbsp. smoked almonds, chopped

1.5tsp. fresh thyme

1/4c. fresh parsley, chopped

1/2tsp. red chili flakes

Ribbon the zucchini thinly and add to a large bowl.

I tossed any ribbons that were purely peel to the pups, and stopped when I hit all-seed strips. A bit is wasted here, but can be easily chopped and chucked in a pan for a quick little pop of veggie later in the week. I ended up using mine in a breakfast zucchini & fried egg rice with browned butter and snipped chives.

Mince the shallot, de-stem the thyme, and chop both the parsley and plum. Add to the bowl.

Add the red chili flakes, along with the dressing and oil. I’d start with 2 Tbsp. dressing, toss, and see if it needs more. Hit with a few grinds salt and pepper.

When it’s time to plate, add the chopped almonds and toss quickly so they don’t go soggy.

Serves 1 – 2 for lunch depending upon what all else you have going on

Lunch – To – Dinner Bombay Chimi

I set out to make a chimichurri-based salad, and ended up taking a trip to India instead when at the last minute I discovered my herbs had betrayed me. And it works.

Bombay chutney is a condiment used in a popular Indian street food sandwich and is kiiiiinda akin to the green mint chutney sauce served alongside a number of dishes alongside tamarind sauce. My version is a beautiful shade of emerald and has a nice spicy kick. It’s addictive, and I can’t wait to try making something akin to the actual sandwich, because I can only imagine how Bomb it would be with potato.

Like mashed potatoes. In a patty …. 🤤 But I digress.

This base recipe is great for lunch or dinner – I served it hash-style when fresh with some leftover Beyond Meat bratwurst & egg and again the next day for lunch with my favorite tuna and some bright crunch. Both ways were fantastic, but I think day 3’s lunch was actually my favorite.

gluten-free, vegetarian base, vegan base, paleo base

Lunch-To-Dinner Bombay Chimi

Base

1 head cauliflower
1 small red onion
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup Bombay Chutney
1/4 cup neutral oil

Preheat the oven to 200C/375F and prep a baking sheet.

Break the cauliflower up into bite-sized pieces and spread out over the prepped pan. Halve and thinly slice the onion; add. Thinly slice the garlic; add.

Sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the chutney and oil. Pour over the veggies on the pan and toss well to combine, making sure to hit each piece.

Roast 25 minutes or until deeply browned.

Dinner Hash

1 leftover and cooked Beyond Meat bratwurst per person, sliced into rounds
1 – 2 eggs per person (optional)
1 handful chopped green beans
2 tsp. neutral oil
1 tsp. butter (vegan or otherwise)

In a large skillet over medium high heat, stir-fry the green beans in the oil until browned. Season with salt & pepper and add the bratwurst. Stir-fry until warmed through. Push to the side, add the butter and an egg per person to the pan. Fry until your desired doneness is reached. Serve with about 1/4 of the cauliflower per person.

Lunch Salad

1 medium cucumber, chopped
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 can chili (red pepper) tuna, drained (optional)

To your leftover cauliflower, add the rest of the ingredients and toss. Warm to room temp if desired by zapping for :30/:45 or so and tossing.

Serves 2 if you’ve got half the cauliflower left; 3 if you only fed 1 the night before.

Harvest Cauliflower Pilaf

Ok, so I’m on a harvest-theme here lately, and all the dishes that have been making me happy speak of (North American) Fall.

This dish is lighter-than-expected, makes a lovely salad for surprise company, and can be bulked up easily to feed a crowd.

It’s also fantastic topped with leftover turkey pancetta and pepitas from last week’s Fall Harvest Soup recipe.

Quick note: if your coconut flakes look like mine (shreds) and you toast your cauliflower as deeply as me (I like some burnt pieces), this dish may look like it has croutons in it. Which was giving my brain a weird disconnect that was less than pleasant. The coconut in here is actually really pleasant and gives a nice little subtly sweet nuttiness with a bit of texture.

Gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, Whole30

Harvest Cauliflower Pilaf

1 smallish head cauliflower, cut into small bits or riced (I did small bits because with my current kitchen setup I just can’t be bothered to fully rice cauliflower)

1 apple (Granny Smith or Fuji – you want something with a bit of tartness or crispness)

2 cloves garlic, minced

Double hand full flat leaf parsley, chopped

Pomegranate seeds (I’m lazy and buy mine prepared – I used a good amount and keep adding more fresh every time I go for leftovers because they’re delightful and so very pretty. Use however much your eye wants to bring nice color to this otherwise very green dish)

3 Tbsp. coconut milk (optional)

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses

Few generous sprays oil (I love a grape seed oil pump I’ve been using lately – it’s really cutting down on the amount of oil I feel I have to use)

Generous sprinkle black pepper

Liberal amount of salt

Generous sprinkle cayenne pepper

Generous sprinkle curry powder

Generous sprinkle cumin powder

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup unsweet shredded or flaked coconut

Preheat your oven to 200C (400F). Prep a baking sheet with a liner, process your cauliflower into tiny bits, and spread in a single layer.

Hit with the oil, salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin, and curry). Toss and roast for 35-40 minutes or until your desired toastiness is achieved.

In the last 5 minutes (or if you forget, stir the cauliflower, flip the pan around and put back in the oven), chuck the almonds & coconut on the pan. Roast to toast 3-5 minutes, being careful to watch and make sure these delicate additions don’t burn.

When done, add to a large bowl.

Chop and toss in the apple, garlic and parsley. Add the coconut milk, lemon juice and pomegranate molasses. Toss to combine. Add enough pomegranate arils to make yourself happy.

Serve room temp or cold – either way is fantastic.

Serves 4 as a meal or a party as part of a larger spread

Summer Roll in a Bowl

This recipe came out of a craving for veggies and color + yet another scroll through Instagram for inspiration.

Summer rolls can be made a million different ways, but this version incorporates most of my favorite elements – some sort of crunchy brassica, sweetness from carrots, the fresh crispness of cucumber, and a little kick of heat from pretty red chilis.

I also tried to recreate a slightly less suspect in color version of the sweet chili sauce often served with rolled appetizers – and then went a little heavier on the savory components because I really like to doctor my own sauces tableside.

Gluten-free, vegetarian

Summer Roll in a Bowl

The Salad

1 inch fresh ginger, sliced into thin matchsticks
1 medium carrot, shredded or cut into matchsticks
1 cucumber, sliced into half moons
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red chili, sliced into matchsticks
2 green onions, sliced into thin rounds
1.5 cups red cabbage, finely chopped
2 cups rice noodles, soaked in hot water 10 minutes to soften and drained

The Dressing

2 Tbsp. honey
Juice of 2 limes
1 Tbsp. sriracha
3 Tbsp. neutral oil (I used canola)
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Toppers

Big hand full chopped nuts for crunch and fat (I had roasted peanuts)
Big hand full chopped cilantro
Protein of choice (Simple poached chicken or shrimp would be great)

Boil water, add the rice noodles to a big bowl, and pour the boiling water over the noodles, making sure they are fully submerged. Let sit while you prep the rest o fly the salad.

Prep the salad veggies and add to a large bowl.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad.

Drain the noodles and add to the salad + dressing, tossing to combine.

Let sit at least half an hour to combine flavors.

Add toppers, toss again and serve.

Serves 3 – 4