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

Eggplant Hummus with Dill Pesto

This is a fantastic way to hide some eggplant and use up a big hunk of pesto. I’ve served this on toast, with eggs, as the base of a sandwich, and would absolutely love the pesto swirled into some mashed potatoes. The hummus, too, tbh. Ooh. Would also be nice thinned with a bit of oil or water and tossed with pasta. I need to make a second batch.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Eggplant Hummus with Dill Pesto

Hummus

1 smallish eggplant, roasted

1 can chickpeas, drained

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. tahini

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. red pepper

Salt

To make, combine all ingredients in a food processor and whiz. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or acid as necessary.

Dill Pesto

1 huge hand dill (about 1/3 of a cup packed)

About 1/3 of a cup smoked almonds, chopped

1 big clove garlic

3-4 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. water

Zest of 1 lemon

Salt

To make, combine all ingredients in a food processor and whiz. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or acid as necessary.

Makes about a cup of hummus and half – 3/4 a cup of pesto

Roasted Potatoes with Avocado Dill Sauce

This recipe as written, I realize, may not be accessible to anyone who does not share my love of grabbing interesting looking ingredients from the Asian aisle and chucking them in whatever looks good.

If you’re still curious to see what this tastes like and don’t share that predilection, an approximation can most likely be made by combining lemon juice, a hint of pomegranate molasses and a hint of rotel green chilis.

I served this plain for dinner (DH added rotisserie chicken to his), and with chili tuna for lunch the next day. Both plain and with some added tuna were good; if you want a little more nutrition with your dinner, broccoli would be great here. Maybe a bit of sesame seed for a little more fat.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Roasted Potatoes with Avocado Dill Sauce

Sauce:

1 stalk celery

1 Tbsp. Japanese Yuzu jalapeño sauce

1 Tbsp. Kewpie Yuzu no-oil dressing

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

2-3 Tbsp. tahini

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1-2 Tbsp. water

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 clove garlic

1 Tbsp. oil of choice

Neutrally seasoned roasted potatoes (I roasted mine in a combo of garlic oil, salt and pepper until browned in a 220C oven ~35 mins)

Chop celery and garlic and add to a blender along with the rest of the sauce ingredients. Whiz. Taste for salt and acid, adding more if necessary. Add a little more water if it’s too thick for your liking. Mine was fine, but your mileage may vary.

Sauce serves 4 – 5; potatoes can adjust to accommodate that number or more

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

Zucchini Rice Pilaf

Sneaky veg FTW in this one. I snuck half a huge zucchini in this rice and it went unnoticed (or at least un commented on). Win.

I served this the first night with seared salmon, and the second with some pepper steak Quorn and a sprinkle of mushroom powder. Both were delicious, and I could see a swirl of pomegranate molasses or some chopped apricot or golden raisins working well here. Smoked almonds instead of plain slivered would also be fantastic.

I also *almost* added the juice and zest of 1 lemon, but am glad I pulled back from that at the last minute. Lemon would be good, but I apparently missed buttery rice in my life.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Zucchini Rice Pilaf

1c. basmati rice

2c. water

1Tbsp. butter (dairy or non; whichever you prefer)

1/2tsp. salt

1/2 a big zucchini (you could actually add the whole thing, but I erred on the side of caution)

1 large shallot

2Tbsp. slivered almonds

2Tbsp. capers

1Tbsp. snipped chives

2Tbsp. chopped parsley

Neutral oil of choice

Make your rice however you make rice, using the water as the liquid and the butter as the fat. Don’t forget to add salt.

While the rice is working, grate the zucchini, snip the chives and chop the parsley. Add to a large bowl.

Finely slice the shallot and fry in a little oil over medium-low heat until browned. When nicely browned (I had wanted caramelized, but this small a quantity of shallot in only the bare minimum of oil browns rather than caramelizes. Would also be amaze with caramelized onion), push the shallot to the side of your pan and add the capers and a bare drizzle of fat.

Push that to 1/3 of the pan until the capers look like they’ll start jumping any minute.

Add the slivered almonds to the last 1/3 of the pan. Toast. Pull the individual items as they are ready and add to the big bowl.

When the rice is done but still warm, add to the big bowl and stir all vigorously to combine.

Serves 4 as a side

Dilled Curry Potatoes

This sounds like a weird combination, but it works really well. Bonus: this side dish makes a great little flavor punch for pretty much any main component. I served mine with next week’s Indian Spiced Burgers the first night and leftovers with plain chicken in the next day’s lunch and both were flavorful and delicious.

gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Dilled Curry Potatoes

500g baby potatoes

Neutral oil

1 Tbsp. curry powder (your favorite mix will do, and some fresh curry leaves would also be great here)

1 small green chili pepper

1 Tbsp. ground turmeric

1 tsp. red chili powder (I used cayenne)

4 – 5 cloves fresh garlic (3 Tbsp. when minced)

2 Tbsp. fresh dill (or more if you have more – I would have actually liked a little extra)

Salt & pepper

Fill your largest high-sided sauté pan with water to 3/4 of the way up the sides, nestle the potatoes in, add a bunch of salt and bring to a shallow boil for 10 minutes or until soft. Drain carefully and cut into halves.

While the potatoes are cooking: mince the garlic, chop the chili pepper, assemble the dried spices, and chop the dill. Set the dill aside.

Add enough oil to your pan to cover the bottom, and heat over high/medium-high until the oil starts to shimmer. Add the potatoes, liberally salt and pepper, and give a good stir for a couple minutes until they start to color.

Add the spices and garlic and stir-fry until the potatoes are as browned as you want them to be and the garlic goes nice and crispy.

Transfer to a large bowl and toss with the dill to complete.

Serves 3 – 4

Za’atar Eggplant

This is a dead simple way to explore a sometimes under-utilized and misunderstood vegetable: the simple Italian style eggplant.

I can’t take credit for this recipe – I was treated to it at a good friend’s house after she raved about it. She wasn’t wrong.

Gluten-free, paleo, Whole30, low carb, vegetarian, vegan

Za’atar Eggplant

1 purple eggplant
Za’atar
Your favorite cooking oil
Salt & pepper

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

Slice your eggplant into thick “steaks” however you like – width or lengthwise.

Lightly score each slice with a knife in a crosshatch pattern, taking care not to slice through the pieces.

Sprinkle lightly with salt & pepper.

Top very generously with za’atar (enough time form a crust).

Sprinkle lightly with your oil of choice to kind of stick the spice down. Alternately, you can mix the spice and oil together in a bowl, then smooth over the eggplant slices – depends on how much oil you want to use.

Bake 25 – 35 mins or until softened and browned – a bit crisp if they’re thin slices.

Serves 2

Vegan Nut-Free Cheddar

This is a solid non-dairy cheddar-like cheese that doesn’t use nuts. Cashew cheese is great, but can be really expensive – and really calorie-dense. Not exactly a weeknight food.

This version tastes pretty cheesy, makes a decent Mac & cheese (better, strangely, with sauerkraut mixed in), and would make a good dip base.

Gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, vegan

Vegan Nut-Free Cheddar

1 medium russet potato
1 medium carrot
2 cups non-dairy milk
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice 1 lemon
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
3 Tbsp. mustard powder
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. cornstarch or arrowroot powder

Roughly chop the potatoes and carrot and boil until soft, approximately 10 minutes. Drain and let cool a bit. Add to the bowl of a blender or food processor.

Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and add a little more lemon juice, spices or salt. I find if I’m missing some punch, extra mustard powder works well.

If you need an even thicker cheese sauce, heat in a pan slowly, stirring often, until desired thickness is reached.

Serves quite a few

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