Blackberry Butternut Salad with Miso Mustard Tahini

This is a fresh little counterpart to heavy holiday dinners.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Blackberry Butternut Salad with Miso Mustard Tahini

1 small butternut squash

1 small package blackberries

Baby spinach

Candied pecans (I used Thanksgiving leftovers – spiced maple flavor)

Vegan feta

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

3 Tbsp. neutral oil

2 tsp. granulated garlic

2 tsp. onion powder

Generous sprinkle red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. white miso

2 Tbsp. tahini

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

Peel the butternut and chop into inch-ish chunks. spread out on the baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, oil, garlic, onion & red pepper.

Pour the sauce over the squash and toss to coat evenly. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet.

Season with salt & pepper & bake 12 minutes, stir and bake an additional 12 minutes or until your desired brownness has been reached.

While the squash is baking, whisk together the lemon juice, Dijon, miso & tahini. Thin with a little water to your desired consistency.

In a large bowl, add the spinach, the still warm from the oven squash and the dressing. Toss well to combine & wilt the spinach a bit.

Add the nuts, blackberries & vegan feta and toss again. Season with more salt & pepper.

Serves 4 for dinner

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


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

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

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

Miso Rosemary Squash Salad

Screw it. The calendar says Fall, despite what the weather says. I’m tired of waiting and need some chilly weather comfort food!

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Miso Rosemary Squash Salad


1 Tablespoon white miso
1 Tablespoon date molasses
2 Tablespoons tahini
2 Tablespoons coconut aminos
1 Tablespoon oil
1 Tablespoon water


1-2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 butternut squash, seeds removed
Salt, pepper, ground cumin


1-2 Tablespoons zaatar
1 Tablespoon slivered almonds

Optional: Chicken or other protein

Preheat your oven to 200C. Scoop the seeds from the halved butternut squash, and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle rosemary, salt, pepper and ground cumin liberally. Roast 35-40 minutes or until soft.

Set aside until cool enough to handle, then scoop the roasted squash into a large bowl.

While the squash is working, add big handfuls of arugula to a large bowl. Whisk or whiz the dressing ingredients together. Add the squash when ready and sprinkle with the toppers.

Serves 2 as written; can easily be doubled.

Caramelized Squash with Pepita Pesto

This was a big hit at a potluck – the pepita pesto was addictive, and I’m sorry to have only made the one squash — there was enough pesto for two, and enough demand for more.

Gluten-free, vegetarian, paleo-ish

Caramelized Squash with Pepita Pesto

For the squash

1 butternut squash – peeled and cut into roughly 1-inch chunks
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. smoked paprika
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. oil of choice

Preheat your oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with foil. Prep your squash if not done already, and combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over the squash and toss to combine. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the squash is soft and starts to brown.

Meanwhile, make your pesto.

For the pesto

1/2 cup raw pepitas
1 hand full arugula
4 cloves garlic
Juice of 1 lime
Big pinch Kosher salt
Few cracks black pepper
4 glugs olive or avocado oil

Blend all ingredients in the bowl of your food processor. If you find the pesto is too thick, add a little more oil.

Toss the squash with the pesto to serve.

As written, this recipe would make enough for 2 dinner portion sides – maybe 3; if you’re bringing somewhere, consider doubling the squash. 

Bacon-Wrapped Butternut Squash

I, dear friends, have been saddled with a squash nonbeliever.

I did it to myself, really. I *knew* my DH harbored this character flaw way back when he was only ‘the boyfriend’, and chose to ignore it – to deal with this injustice later; to blindly turn my eye to the potential battleground that would become dinner and forge ahead.

This squash distainer sits at my dinner table (who am I kidding? the couch) every night during the fall, hoping whatever huge wintery monstrosity made my eyes shiny at the grocery store/farmers’ market the weekend before is not making an appearance on his plate. And then it does, and the poor guy does what he can with it. Funky textures, sweetly savory tastes and all.

This dish is an olive branch of sorts – a peace offering for the many, many hashes and roasted lumps of undesirables I make my longsuffering DH consume each year when the mercury dips below 50. For the broken promises of crispiness; the bait-and-switches that come when silky purees don’t have the expected flavor profile.

Who doesn’t love bacon? And if you have to eat squash to get it, maybe that bacon fat-basted root veggie won’t be so bad.

Gluten-free, paleo, Whole30 if you luck up and can get compliant bacon


Bacon-Wrapped Butternut Squash

1/2 a large butternut squash
6 slices bacon
Chili powder

Preheat your oven to 400 F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Now attack your squash. Peel with a vegetable peeler, lop off the ends and cut into half width-wise (you should have two big hunks of squash – 1 with seeds and 1 without). Cut your seedless half into half again and then into large fry looking wedges.

Reserve the other half for another purpose (a nice hash, perhaps).

Cut your bacon into half so you end up with 12 slices.

Wrap a slice of bacon per wedge – my large butternut yielded 12 good wedges; perfect for the amount of bacon I had on hand. When wrapping, make sure both ends wind up on the same side and put that side down on the prepared baking sheet.

Sprinkle with chili powder, salt and pepper.

Bake for 30 minutes (or until the squash is soft and the bacon is done), kick your broiler up to high, and broil 5 minutes on each side to finish crisping the bacon and brown the edges of the squash.

Serves 3


Delicata, Pomegranate & Arugula Salad

This salad is sweet, tart, fatty & salty and strikes a great balance between the carbs & fat you want when the weather turns cold, and more virtuous things like fresh greens.

Vegetarian, vegan & paleo with omissions; gluten-free with none


Delicata, Pomegranate & Arugula Salad

1 delicata squash
1 pomegranate
Pecorino, romano or other salty aged cheese
Pomegranate molasses
Optional pulled meat of some sort – I used pork like this, this would also be fantastic
Olive oil
Salt & pepper

First, start your squash.

Preheat your oven to 425 F. Line a cookie sheet with foil.

Slice the ends off your squash and push the seeds out with a spoon. Slice into 1/4-inch rounds.

Lay squash rounds in a single layer on your prepared sheet – making sure not to crowd; brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Bake 20 minutes, flip, and bake another 20 minutes or until browned and nutty on both sides.

While the squash is working, de-seed your pomegranate (my favorite method is to roll the pomegranate on a cutting board to loosen the seeds, cut in half, and whack with the back of a wooden spoon. Not only cathartic, this method is really quick and only a little splattery).

Reheat your pork (I prefer crisping it up a bit either under the broiler or in a pan on the stovetop) and gather the rest of your ingredients.

When the squash is crisped, pull from the oven and start assembling your salad. I used about a cup of arugula, 6-8 slices of squash, a hand full of pomegranate arils, a Tablespoon or so of cheese, and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses. Enjoy.

Depending upon the size of your squash, serves 2-4. My squash was on the small side and I was hungry, so it served 2. 


Miso Pepita Broiled Squash

I know I have a winner on my hands when the first taste of something horrifies my mouth – but subsequent tweaks and tastes cause me to salivate, eat too much, and wind up having to pour water over the bowl to cease the smorgasboarding. (sidebar: you don’t even want to know how many times I typed Smorgasburg instead of smorgasboard – I may have been living in Brooklyn too long)

Back to topic. This side is pretty great. The topping is sweet and salty and rich and a little crunchy – while the squash is a little sweet, soft and a touch velvety. The two play well nicely together.

Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, paleo-ish [miso is not strictly paleo (neither is rice wine vinegar for that matter), but as far as soy products go – fermented isn’t quite the devil that unfermented is. I will also love my rice wine vinegar forever, regardless of what the paleo police say]


Miso Pepita Broiled Squash
Adapted from Broiled Spaghetti Squash with Walnut-Miso Glaze by Saveur

1 medium butternut squash
Coconut oil
1/2 c. pepitas
1/4 c. white miso
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
Pinch red chili flakes
Pinch kosher salt

First, prep a baking sheet with tinfoil and set your oven to heat to 400 F.

Peel your squash with a vegetable peeler, cut into two easier-to-manage hunks, and cut into potato wedge looking sizes (scooping the guts from the bell end as you go). Lay on the prepped cookie sheet and drizzle a little coconut oil over. Toss well to coat. Sprinkle with kosher salt.

Bake 30 minutes or until soft and just starting to brown a bit on the edges.

While your squash is baking, make the crumbly goodness.

Combine the pepitas, miso, maple syrup, vinegar, chili flakes & salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined and gravelly looking. Taste. The mixture should be weird but strangely delicious and addicting after the second taste or so.

If you need to cut the weirdness, adding a little more maple syrup would work; adding some “warmer” spices (like cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice) may also help. I kept it weird.

When your squash is done, move your rack up and kick the oven on to broil.

Top your squash with the miso pepita mixture – I used the whole batch when I made it (mostly because I was already obsessed with the taste, but in hindsight this was a wise choice).

Broil 3 minutes or so, until the top is nice and crunchy and browned.

Serves 4 as a side.