Butternut Squash and Hearty Grains Salad

December 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

Butternut squash oooh what I’d do with you. Soups, stews, risottos, salads, just plain roasted… talk about versatility. This time, I mixed it up with a blend of hearty grains from Trader Joe’s, some ricotta salata cheese and onions. I started out aiming for this recipe from Smitten Kitchen but wound up with some substitutes that undoubtedly changed the results. This salad tastes just like fall with the sweet, roasted squash, salty cheese and some sauteed onions.

Ingredients (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

  •  1 medium butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/4 cup grain of choice (Trader Joe’s blend includes Israeli couscous, baby garbanzo beans, red quinoa and orzo)
  • 3/4 cup ricotta salata crumbled or coarsely grated
  • 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped (original recipe calls for a red)

First step is roasting the squash. Preheat the oven to 375° and then get to peeling. Cut the squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Below are the tools you’ll need.

Peeled SquashThen cut the squash into about 1/2 inch pieces. Coat a baking sheet with 2 tbsp. olive oil,turn the squash to coat then season with salt and pepper to taste. Pop them in the oven for about 30-45 minutes turning occasionally. Once it’s done (soft to pierce) set aside to cool.

Roasted Butternut SquashWhen the squash is in the oven, it’s time to cook your grains. Mine only needed 10 minutes to cook but the farro in Smitten Kitchen needed a half an hour. Cook your grain according to the package instructions.

Cooked GrainsWhile the grain is going on the stove top, saute your onions and whisk together the red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, water, sugar and salt until the salt and sugar dissolve.

Translucent Onions

The original recipe uses a pickled red onion instead which I’m sure adds a really great bite. I can’t wait to try it that way.

When the onions are translucent, stir them into the vinaigrette.

SauceThen it’s time to put it all together. Pour the grains and the squash into a large bowl then add the cheese and the onion sauce to taste. Enjoy!

DinnerI had this as a side with some roasted pork loin and greens but I am very much looking forward to leftovers tomorrow for lunch! This is also great when entertaining since it doesn’t need to be served piping hot.






Spaghetti Squash

September 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Kindled by my City House experience, I ran out the very next day to purchase, cook and consume my very own spaghetti squash. It was eye-opening—who knew a vegetable could so utterly transform with just a little heat? I decided to bake mine because even though the cook time was longer than microwaving, most of the time was hands-off.

This is what your squash will look like

Preheat your oven to 375° while you take some time hacking this thing open.

Cut lengthwise. Pierce the squash with a knife and pop in the microwave for a minute to soften the squash before you cut.

Once you scoop out the flesh and seeds inside, brush with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for an hour at 375°

While that’s baking, why not separate some of the squash seeds and sautee with salt and pepper in a little bit of butter?

I personally prefer pumpkin seeds but these will certainly suffice as a salty crunchy snack while the real deal is still going in the oven

Now this is the really cool part. After about 50 minutes to an hour, the flesh will be very tender to the touch and fall away easily from the skin. When you rake your fork down it literally shreds it into perfect spaghetti-like strings!


If you are cooking for one, this squash yields a lot of “spaghetti”. Like dinner and lunch and then dinner and lunch again. So you may want to mix-up the way you serve it.

Tossed with garlic, olive oil, cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese

Now your mouth knows this is not real pasta, the texture is tough and the taste is nutty and sweet. That doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable with traditional spaghetti accompaniments but I preferred the Moroccan spices inspired by Smitten Kitchen.

Tossed with garlic, cumin, salt and cayenne browned in butter and tossed with fresh chopped cilantro.




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