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Roasted Acorn Squash

Roasted Acorn Squash

 This has to be one of the easiest, most delicious and most colorful side dishes you can make for your Thanksgiving table – or for any fall or winter meal, really.

Acorn squash, aside from its rich taste and nutritious qualities, has the added benefit of thin, edible skin – no peeling necessary.
The hardest part is cutting the slices — you need a sturdy knife and steady hand.
But once that’s done, you simply roast the slices in the oven, then sprinkle some pomegranate seeds on top, with a drizzle of balsamic syrup, and a scattering of fresh herbs. I’ve used parsley and lemon balm, but if you’re a cilantro fan, that would be welcome too.

 

Roasted Acorn Squash 
Wash the squash thoroughly, then cut in half. Remove seeds, then cut into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Coat each side of the slices with olive oil, and season with salt, pepper and herbs. I use a homemade herb salt, but you can mince some fresh or dry herbs such as rosemary, thyme and sprinkle on top.
Place on a cookie sheet and put into a preheated 425 degree oven. They’ll need only 5 to 7 minutes, after which you’ll flip to the other side. They’re done when they pierce easily with a fork. Remove them to a platter, then drizzle a balsamic glaze on top. (If you can’t find balsamic glaze in the store, make your own by boiling down supermarket balsamic vinegar until thick and syrupy.)
Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and scatter fresh herb leaves on top (I use either parsley or lemon balm or a combination of the two.)
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Grapefruit-Avocado Salad

Grapefruit-Avocado Salad

 OK, so the Super Bowl parties and Buffalo wings are history but Valentine’s Day and Carnevale are still looming. With those February holidays come a plethora of temptations from cakes and candies to the ubiquitous fried cookies and treats found in Italy at this time of year. I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to resist all these goodies. That’s why I try to behave myself in the hiatus between all the indulgences.
This salad fits the bill for me for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I know there are more delicious concoctions ahead in the next few weeks that will be hard to resist. So I’m taking the opportunity now to lighten my eating habits in anticipation of the next great eating binges. And trust me, there will be plenty ahead, including a few decadent recipes in the coming weeks right here on Ciao Chow Linda.

 


Join me for a week in Italy at the end of May and live like an Italian – sightseeing, cooking and eating in a villa located in the Alban Hills near Rome. There’s still time to enroll. Go to www.cookinitalywithciaochowlinda.blogspot.com for details.
Pink Grapefruit, Avocado and Pomegranate Salad with Nasturtium Flowers
Adapted from “Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume” by Silvena Rowe
(The plate in the photo is only 1/2 of this recipe below.)
  • 2 pink grapefruits
  • 2 large avocados
  • 24 leaves fresh purple basil
  • 1 large pomegranate
  • salt
  • 3 T. white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 t. prepared mustard
  • 1/2 t. pomegranate molasses (I didn’t feel like running to the store, so I used reduced balsamic vinegar instead)
  • 1 t. ground sumac (Williams-Sonoma sells it, but if you can’t find it, leave it out.)
  • 6 to 8 fresh nasturtium flowers (It’s winter in NJ and fresh nasturtium flowers are impossible to find, so I substituted candied violets and they were great as a sweet, crunchy contrast to the salad and dressing)
  • purple basil leaves
Peel the grapefruits, then cut into sections. Peel and slice the avocados, and deseed the pomegranate. I found it easiest to do this by cutting the pomegranate in half, then in half again. Hold each quarter of the pomegranate in the palm of your hand, skin side up, over a plate. With your other hand, take a spoon and rap hard against the outer skin of the pomegranate. Most of the seeds will fall down into your hand or on a plate you have placed underneath.  Arrange the grapefruit sections, avocado slices and pomegranate seeds on a plate. Mix the dressing: salt, vinegar, oil, mustard, pomegranate molasses and sumac. Pour over the salad and decorate with the purple basil leaves, and edible flowers.
Avocado And Pomegranate Salad

Avocado and Pomegranate Salad

There’s a line in Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well,” in which one of the characters says: “Go to, sir; you were beaten in Italy for picking a kernel out of a pomegranate.”

For this recipe, which requires dozens of pomegranate seeds, there’s no worry about being beaten in Italy. There’s only the time-consuming task of removing those seeds from those pesky, pulpy membranes. The rest of the recipe is a snap.

What you’ll end up with is a healthy and unusual salad that’s colorful as a Christmas wreath and delicious too. It requires only two ingredients – avocados and pomegranates, plus some olive oil and lemon juice as a dressing. It comes to you via my friend Anna Rosa, who spends a lot of time in Italy, but has never once been beaten for plucking a seed from a pomegranate.

Here’s the recipe:

Peel two avocados and cube. Mix in a bowl with seeds from one pomegranate. Toss with olive oil and lemon juice to taste.