Posts tagged with Dinner

Cooking away the CSA, week 6: Salad season

This salad is local in more ways than just my CSA.

This salad is local in more ways than just my CSA. by Sarah Henning

It's officially salad season, my friends! Sure, we've been getting greens for weeks, but we're really rolling now. And, if you've been following this space for a few years, you know I couldn't be happier.

I've been buying greens through Rolling Prairie (my CSA), the Lawrence Farmers' Market and even at the grocery store, because I just can't get enough.

So you've been warned: We'll have a lot of salad posts in the coming weeks.

But now to this week. At our last CSA pickup, we received: Asparagus, spinach, green onions, whole-wheat flour, mustard greens and salad mix.

As you can imagine, we had steamed asparagus and lots of salad with our box of goodies. We saved the whole-wheat flour for more pizza. Meanwhile, I’m sad to say that we still haven’t used the mustard greens. They’re still healthy-looking, I just haven’t found a home for them as of this writing.

One of the best things we did with the salad mix was combine it with a local Mediterranean treat: Lebanese beans.

Lebanese beans make for a great salad addition.

Lebanese beans make for a great salad addition. by Sarah Henning

A mix of garbanzos, fava beans, herbs and spices, it’s a nice salad topper and pita filler. Mixed with CSA salad mix, avocado, olives and a little something sweet, it makes for a fantastic salad.

Mediterranean Flair Salad

2 large handfuls local salad mix

Half an avocado, cubed

10 to 15 kalamata and/or garlic-filled green olives, cut in half

1/2 cup Lebanese Flower Lebanese beans or other mixed beans

1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste

Divide salad mix among two salad bowls. Add 1/4 avocado to each bowl. Divide the olives, beans and cranberries. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.

This week we received: Asparagus, salad greens, spinach, eggs, radishes, green onions and head lettuce.

Asparagus, salad greens, spinach, eggs, radishes, green onions and head lettuce.

Asparagus, salad greens, spinach, eggs, radishes, green onions and head lettuce. by Sarah Henning


Cooking away the CSA, week 5: Greens, greens everywhere

Herbs for our container garden.

Herbs for our container garden. by Sarah Henning

It is FINALLY 80 degrees. And mid-May. And sunny.

And all those things mean summer is right around the corner — as underlined by the fact that I bought a dozen or so herb starters this weekend for my container garden. Including three kinds of basil, aka summer in a leaf.


But before the basil and those delightful tomatoes that go with it, we're in the thick of greens season. Both at the CSA and the Lawrence Farmers' Market.

In last week's CSA bag, we received red lettuce, green onions, garlic chives, carrots, spinach and pesto. A very good, very green mix.

At this point in the local growing season, my hubby begins dreaming of anything that isn't green (the carrots made him so happy), so we have to get a bit creative in how we use our veggies.

So, I made some green juice using some of our spinach.

Green juice featuring CSA spinach and carrots.

Green juice featuring CSA spinach and carrots. by Sarah Henning

Admittedly that isn't very creative when we're talking about my wheelhouse. To that end, I also made a salad that I totally forgot to document (food writer fail).

But we used most of our veggies and several of our Farmers' Market veggies in a chef's choice egg version of the Kitchen Sink Tofu Scramble featured in week 2.

Egg-CSA veggie mixture on a tortilla.

Egg-CSA veggie mixture on a tortilla. by Sarah Henning

Egg burrito with steamed asparagus.

Egg burrito with steamed asparagus. by Sarah Henning

The hubby and head chef mixed four eggs with several handfuls of veggies, including CSA spinach, carrots, garlic chives and green onions and then added in store-bought extras like red pepper. Then he topped it off with CSA pesto or salsa and some cheese.

What'd we get this week? Asparagus(!), spinach, green onions, whole-wheat flour, mustard greens and salad mix.

Asparagus, spinach, green onions, whole-wheat flour, mustard greens and salad mix.

Asparagus, spinach, green onions, whole-wheat flour, mustard greens and salad mix. by Sarah Henning


Cooking away the CSA, week 4: Pizza dough can be the kitchen sink of CSA eating

Avocado, pepper and olive pizza with hummus instead of sauce on a dough made with local CSA wheat.

Avocado, pepper and olive pizza with hummus instead of sauce on a dough made with local CSA wheat. by Sarah Henning

Last week in our CSA, we received whole-wheat flour, pea greens, spinach, salad greens, chives and green onions.

You might look at that list and think it looks like one giant salad after another. And you might be right. We did use the salad greens for its intended purpose, while the spinach and pea greens went into smoothies.

But when I saw our pickup choices, one of the first things I thought was, “pizza.”

The local heritage winter wheat is just perfect for cutting with some regular old white/bread flour to make a heartier pizza crust. Add in the benefit of throwing leftover CSA goodies willy-nilly on top (green onions, spinach and chives were perfect for this) and you’ve got yourself a really useful medium for polishing off some of your CSA ingredients.

Later in the summer, pizza dough is even more helpful when we’re up to our ears in peppers, eggplant, zucchini and basil. If you think it’ll go well together, you can put it on top of your pizza. The whole dinner is super easy, especially if you make your dough ahead of time, freeze it and actually remember to pull out the frozen dough before you leave for work in the morning. (Sometimes I forget, and it makes me crazy sad.)

If you’ve never made homemade pizza before, you’re really missing out. It’s totally customizable, delicious, easy and incredibly cheap.

We have two favorite pizza crust recipes. Both are fabulous and have turned out well for us. So, pick whichever one you like and go for it!

And, if like us you get your hands on some local wheat through your CSA or the Farmers’ Market, try cutting it in. You don’t want to make a whole pie out of it (that would be a bit too dense) but try cutting it with half regular flour or two-thirds regular flour.

Note: You can use the first recipe with a pizza stone or a cookie sheet, while the second one, we only used with a cookie sheet.

Mark Bittman’s Pizza Dough (Adapted from

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more as needed

2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt, plus extra for sprinkling

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a food processor. Turn the machine on and add 1 cup water and the oil through the feed tube.

Process for about 30 seconds, adding more water, a little at a time, until the mixture forms a ball and is slightly sticky to the touch. If it is still dry, add another tablespoon or two of water and process for another 10 seconds. (In the unlikely event that the mixture is too sticky, add flour a tablespoon at a time.)

Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead by hand for a few seconds to form a smooth, round dough ball. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise until the dough doubles in size, one to two hours. (You can cut this rising time short if you’re in a hurry, or you can let the dough rise more slowly, in the refrigerator, for up to 6 or 8 hours.) Proceed to Step 4 or wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap or a zipper bag and freeze for up to a month. (Defrost in the bag or a covered bowl in the refrigerator or at room temperature; bring to room temperature before shaping.)

When the dough is ready, form it into a ball and divide it into two or more pieces if you like; roll each piece into a round ball. Put each ball on a lightly floured surface, sprinkle with flour, and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let rest until they puff slightly, about 20 minutes.

Roll out, top and bake at 500 degrees until cooked through. We usually make two pies plus a little one for the kiddo with this recipe, baking each pizza for about 10 minutes. Note: To make pizza dough by hand or with a standing mixer, follow the directions, but use a bowl and a heavy wooden spoon or the mixer’s bowl and the paddle attachment instead of the food processor. When the dough becomes too heavy to stir, use your hands or exchange the mixer’s paddle for the dough hook and proceed with the recipe.

Chloe Coscarelli’s Pizza Dough (Adapted from

1 1/4-ounce package active dry yeast

1 cup warm water (110 degrees)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose flour and half whole-wheat flour), plus extra for rolling

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar or maple syrup

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until bubbles form, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine flour, oil, salt, sugar and the yeast mixture. Using lightly floured hands or an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix until a stiff dough has formed. If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle extra flour 1 teaspoon at a time as needed. Place the dough in a large, well-oiled bowl and rotate the ball of dough so it is completely covered with the oil. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl as it rises. Cover with a dry kitchen towel and place in a warm part of the kitchen until it has doubled in volume (about 1 to 1 1/2 hours). Place dough on a lightly floured work surface, shape into a disc, and knead for five minutes. Use dough immediately or cover tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze for a later use. Thaw to room temperature before using.

When ready to use: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a large rimmed baking sheet (approximately 9-by-13 inches) with oil.

Stretch pizza dough into a rectangle and fit it into the prepared baking sheet. Spread sauce and toppings on oiled dough. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating midway, until the crust is slightly browned or golden.

Note: If crust is thick, you may need to leave it in for 30 minutes or more.

What’d we get at our CSA pickup this week? Red lettuce, spinach, pesto, garlic chives, green onions and carrots.

From our CSA this week: red lettuce, spinach, pesto, garlic chives, green onions and carrots.

From our CSA this week: red lettuce, spinach, pesto, garlic chives, green onions and carrots. by Sarah Henning


Cooking away the CSA, week 2: One pan, tons of veggies and dinner for days

Tofu scramble over a bed of local spinach. Mmmmm.

Tofu scramble over a bed of local spinach. Mmmmm. by Sarah Henning

Last week, in our very first CSA pickup of the year from Rolling Prairie, we received spinach, green onions, salad mix, dried mushrooms and tofu (Central Soy's local tofu). It was a great and versatile mix of items we could’ve used in a number of ways.

Because it’s a total habit, I used most of the spinach and all of the salad mix in green smoothies during the week, though one turned out a bit brown (cocoa powder was a must that morning).

A chocolate "green" smoothie. (Yes, there's spinach in there.)

A chocolate "green" smoothie. (Yes, there's spinach in there.) by Sarah Henning

But the majority of our CSA went into an epic scramble that fed us for days. We had it both over spinach, wrapped in a tortilla and just plain.

And what’s great about this recipe, besides the major leftovers, is the fact that you can pretty much throw anything into it and be set. We used a bunch of half bags of leftover frozen vegetables, plus a bunch of our CSA goodies, including the spinach that didn’t make it into a smoothie. It really was the perfect way to clean out our fridge without even really trying. Plus, it tasted good.

Kitchen Sink Tofu Scramble

1 package Central Soy tofu

2 cups of spinach, separated

1/2 cup chickpeas (or other beans)

2 cups mixed frozen vegetables

1/2 cup dried mushrooms (not reconstituted)

Green onions, sliced thinly, to taste

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

4-5 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed

1/2 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons olive oil

Black pepper, to taste

Avocado and salsa for serving

Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic and vegetables. Add spices — tumeric, cumin and salt — and mix it up for 15 seconds or so. Add 1/4 cup water and deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom to get all the garlic and spices.

Crumble in tofu and mix well, but leave it chunky. Let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding splashes of water if necessary to keep it from sticking too much. Lower the heat a bit if you find that it is sticking. Add 1 cup of the spinach and the garbanzo beans and mix. Add nutritional yeast and mix it up. If it seems too dry add splashes of water. The moistness really depends on how much water the tofu was retaining before you added it.

Serve over a bed of spinach with salsa and slices of avocado. Serves 4-6.

This week, we got another great mix of items: parsley, green onions, pea greens, spinach and pesto.

Our haul for April 22: green onions, spinach, pea greens, parsley and pesto.

Our haul for April 22: green onions, spinach, pea greens, parsley and pesto. by Sarah Henning


Spring, sweet spring, where are you?

Made-from-scratch black bean soup was perfect as the SPRING snow came down.

Made-from-scratch black bean soup was perfect as the SPRING snow came down. by Sarah Henning

I thought I was done with winter. You know, get out the gardening supplies, put the sweaters and boots away.

But, despite Punxsutawney Phil’s “forecast,” snow is on the ground, a chill is still in the air and that whole “out like a lamb” thing belongs in the same shaming hole as that groundhog.


Not really, but what else can we do but throw the calendar out the window, grab a sweater and make soup? That’s exactly what we did this weekend, and, for a change, we made soup with dried beans.

Normally, we’re a tad too impatient to do the soaking routine, even though we know it’s better for us and cheaper, too. But, in an effort to spice things up, we decided to give it a go (we normally only manage to soak garbanzos), choosing a recipe we’d never made before that starts with dried beans so they’re a blank canvas.

And you know what? Soup made this way really did taste different than all the other soups we make with canned black beans. And by taste, I don’t mean “salt level” (I buy salt-free canned beans). The texture was different — sturdier, almost.

Now, I know this recipe looks long, but it really isn’t much of a hassle. Also of note: Make sure to include one or two of garnishes at the bottom, they really kick this soup up a notch or two.

Black Bean-Vegetable Soup (Recipe from “Veganomicon” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)


1 pound dried black beans, rinsed, soaked for 6 to 8 hours or overnight

6 cups water

2 bay leaves

Pinch of baking soda


3 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium-size onions, diced finely

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced finely (we used 1 cup of a frozen mix of red, yellow and green peppers)

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

1 stalk celery, diced finely

1 carrot, peeled and diced finely

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

3-4 cups vegetable stock

Garnishes for serving:

Lime wedges

Chopped avocado

Minced fresh cilantro

Prepare the beans: Drain the soaked beans, rinse again, and place the beans in a large stockpot. Pour in the 6 cups of water and add the bay leaves and baking soda. Cover and bring to a boil, boil for about 3 minutes, and then lower the heat to medium-low. Allow to simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the beans are tender and their skins are soft. Remove the bay leaves.

During the last 30 minutes of the beans’ cooking, prepare the vegetables. Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Saute the garlic in the oil until the garlic begins to sizzle, stir for 30 seconds and add the onions and bell pepper. Stir and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the onions and peppers are soft, then add the jalapeño, celery and carrot. Cook for another 10 minutes, until the carrot has begun to soften, then remove from the heat.

When the beans are completely tender, stir in the sauteed vegetables and any remaining oil, plus the cumin, oregano, thyme and vegetable stock. Cover the pot, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low, partially cover the pot and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, until the carrot and celery are tender.

Remove from the heat, allow to cool 10 minutes, add the vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Like most soups, this soup will be richer and more flavorful the next day.

Garnish each serving of soup with chopped cilantro and chopped avocado. Serve with lime wedges.


Winter, meet summer: Spiced pepper and Brussels sprout fajitas

Spiced Pepper and Brussels' Sprout Fajitas.

Spiced Pepper and Brussels' Sprout Fajitas. by Sarah Henning

You may have noticed from reading this blog, but I really, really like Brussels sprouts.

And though I usually like to roast or steam them, I thought it was about time to try them a new way (rather than just pairing them with new foods when I get bored).

I was feeling a bit daring last week, and decided to pair a heavy summer favorite with this winter favorite of mine. The results were spectacular and super yummy.

Everyone, I'd like you to meet the my special winter fajitas: Spiced Pepper and Brussels' Sprout Fajitas.

Sounds weird, tastes great. If you're not a Brussels sprout fan (and I know probably half of you aren't), you can try it with fresh broccoli or cauliflower. You'd get nutrients from the same family, and a slightly more mild flavor.

Spiced Pepper and Brussels Sprout Fajitas

2 red bell peppers, chopped

1/2 large onion, chopped

8 Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered

Fajita Seasoning Mix (below)

Olive oil

Black beans

Cheese (optional)

Salsa (optional)

Guacamole or avocado (optional)

Fajita-sized flour tortillas

Fajita Seasoning Mix

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon cumin

Mix seasoning ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

Throw your peppers, onion and Brussels into a saucepan or large skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Saute until the veggies are soft.

Next, add all the seasoning mix and add about a 1/4-1/2 cup water to the pan. Continue to saute until the sauce thickens and coats the veggies (this should take a few minutes).

Once the veggies are cool enough to eat, layer them into flour tortillas with black beans, avocado (or guac), salsa and other optional toppings. Enjoy!


Soup so thick and satisfying, you don’t even need bread(!)

This soup has it all: creaminess, veggies, hearty beans and staying power.

This soup has it all: creaminess, veggies, hearty beans and staying power. by Sarah Henning

I’m not even going to pretend any of us are about to make something new for dinner tonight. We’ve all been cooped up far too long, we’ve eaten the same things for days and we’re all probably going for our well-known comfort foods.

But once the snow melts enough so that driving isn’t treacherous (let’s hope that’s soon), please run out and get the ingredients for this recipe. It’s creamy, healthy, comforting. Fact is, it’s so creamy that you don’t even need bread to dip into it. Seriously, and we’re huge “bread with soup” people. You can have it, but you won’t miss it if you neglect to grab a baguette.

Some tips: Start soaking the cashews before you leave for work, and if you have have a stick (immersion) blender, use that for the cashew cream instead of blender. Heed the directions at the bottom about adding water when reheating. We reheated it on the stovetop instead of the microwave and that seemed to work well.

Chickpea and Rice Soup With A Little Kale

3/4 cup cashews, soaked in water for two hours or overnight

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium, yellow onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried rosemary

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon salt

Fresh black pepper

3/4 cup rice, rinsed

3 ribs celery, thinly sliced

1 cup carrots, diced chunky

5 cups vegetable broth

1 24 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)

4 cups chopped kale

Thinly sliced green onion, for garnish

Drain the cashews and place them in a blender with one cup of water. Blend until completely smooth, scraping the sides of the food processor with a spatula occasionally to make sure you get everything. This could take one to five minutes depending on the strength of your blender. Preheat a stock pot over medium heat. Saute onion in olive oil with a pinch of salt for about five minutes, until translucent. Add garlic, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and saute a minute more.

Add rice, celery and carrots and then pour in the broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring down to a simmer, add the chickpeas, and let cook for about 15 more minutes, until rice is cooked and carrots are tender.

Add the cashew cream and kale, and simmer until kale is wilted, three to five more minutes. You may need to add water to thin the soup if it seems too thick. Taste for salt and seasonings and let sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the flavors to marry. Serve topped with green onions.

It thickens as it cools, so if you have leftovers, just thin with a little water when you reheat.

— Recipe from


Kitchen sink chili, as unusual as it is tasty (and HOT)

Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts.

Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts. by Sarah Henning

It’s no secret that if you follow this blog, you know that this winter I’ve been digging the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts combination. Steamed or roasted, I love putting them on salads or veggie burgers or just eating them as is. Those two foods are basically “winter” to me right now.

So, I was excited to find a new way to eat them. A very unexpected way, for me, for sure: chili. Yes, the thought of Brussels sprouts in chili sounds strange (maybe not sweet potatoes, so much), but, I assure you that even if you hate Brussels, chances are you might like this recipe.

As Example A as to why this is, I give you my husband, who, though he HATES Brussels, actually chose to make this recipe. He knew we had pretty much everything on hand and that I’d probably like it and thought he’d take one for the team. But, as it turned out, he liked it. And I’ll tell you why: This chili is so saucy, you can’t even taste the Brussels. I’m serious. Everything is so spicy and smoky and delicious because of the adobo peppers, that we could’ve thrown cardboard in there and been none the wiser.

This description probably doesn’t make this chili sound appealing, but it is. Really. And I think that if you have someone in the house who isn’t the biggest yam/Brussels fan (including yourself), but you want to push them because you know they have awesome nutrient value, then try this recipe.

Also, a word of caution: The adobo sauce and peppers are what makes this recipe really work, but you might want to be careful if you aren’t too keen on spice. We only used two of the three peppers, and it was still nearly too hot for us. We’re not total wusses, but still.

Chipotle Chili with Sweet Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 red onion, diced small

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed

2 teaspoons dried oregano

3 chipotles in adobo, seeded and chopped (we only used 2 and it was plenty spicy for us)

1 ½ pounds sweet potatoes (2 average-size), peeled and cut into ¾-inch pieces

12 ounces Brussels sprouts, quartered lengthwise (about 2 cups)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 cup water

1 (16-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (about 1 ½ cups)

1 ½ teaspoons salt

Freshly squeezed lime juice

In a 4-quart pot over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil for 5 to 7 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, coriander seeds, and oregano, and saute for a minute more. Add the remaining ingredients (except the lime juice). Mix well. The sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts will be peeking out of the tomato sauce, but don’t worry, they will cook down.

Cover the pot and bring it to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer and cook for about half an hour, stirring often, until the sweet potatoes are tender but not mushy. Squeeze in the lime juice to taste and adjust any other seasonings. Let the chili sit uncovered for at least 10 minutes before eating.

(Recipes from “Appetite for Reduction" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)


Warding off the chill with Crock-pot chili

Classic Black Bean and Veggie Chili.

Classic Black Bean and Veggie Chili. by Sarah Henning

Dang, it’s cold out there. It’s just so classic “Kansas” that we went from 60 degrees one day (Friday) to hovering around freezing the next. Boo.

By the time we’d been through that horrible temperature swing, we were all for breaking out the slow cooker on Sunday morning. We adapted a recipe that was supposed to be made on the stovetop by just dumping everything in the slow cooker and crossing our fingers that it turned out right.

It did and it was delicious. I totally recommend making this soup when you feel like you want some chili to ward off the chill. Enjoy!

Classic Black Bean and Veggie Chili

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 onion, diced small

1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced small (We used an orange bell pepper)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large carrot, diced small

1 pound zucchini, cut into medium dice

1 cup corn, fresh or frozen (thaw first if frozen)

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

3 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon salt

Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, chopped (We didn’t use it)

2 teaspoons agave nectar (We used honey)

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Put everything except the agave nectar and lime juice into a slow cooker. Cook, stirring occasionally, on high for five to six hours. When ready to serve, stir in agave/honey and lime. Serves six.

(Recipe adapted from “Appetite for Reduction,” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz)


A post-holiday present to yourself: A pomegranate

Pomegranate breakfast bowl.

Pomegranate breakfast bowl. by Sarah Henning

If you're like me, you've got to restock to your fridge and pantry after the food explosion that is the holidays. My fridge has run the gamut over the past few days, going from empty-ish to stuffed to its frozen little gills to deflated and devoid of anything but leftovers.

If this sounds familiar, or if you're just planning your trip to the grocery store for the week, I highly recommend adding a pomegranate to your cart. This time of year, I can't get enough of these unusual superfruits. They're a great treat, and fantastic in nearly any application.

Back in November, I posted a Thanksgiving recipe for squash that featured pomegranate seeds. The seeds add a nice juiciness and crunch to that recipe, and they can do that to pretty much any other recipe you can dream up. Just this week, we had the seeds three different ways other than just eating them out of hand. Above is a breakfast bowl of 1 cup pomegranate seeds, 2 tablespoons pecans, 1 tablespoon hemp seeds and 1 teaspoon cacao nibs. While I was enjoying that, the hubby had pumpkin pancakes topped with the seeds.

Trader Joe's pumpkin pancakes topped with pomegranate seeds.

Trader Joe's pumpkin pancakes topped with pomegranate seeds. by Sarah Henning

But my favorite way this week is pairing the pomegranate seeds with squash yet again. This time, it's with kabocha squash we roasted in a spicy sauce and then used to top a simple salad. The result is as pretty as it is tasty.

Pomegranate and kabocha squash salad.

Pomegranate and kabocha squash salad. by Sarah Henning

But before we get to that recipe, a few details on the pomegranate, one of the world's oldest recorded fruits. One 4-inch pomegranate has 234 calories, 3 grams of fat, 11 grams of fiber (45 percent of your daily value), 5 grams of protein, 48 percent of your daily vitamin C and 5 percent of your daily iron.

Now to the really important information: How to open and seed the dang thing. The best way to seed a pomegranate is to plunge it underwater. Fill a mixing bowl with enough water that you can submerge your hands and the whole pomegranate. Next, cut the top off the fruit and score the outside into a few sections. Plunge the fruit into the water and then pull it apart along your score lines. Free the seeds with your thumbs and rub off the white pith. The pith will float and your seeds will sink. When all your seeds are free, rinse them in a colander to remove extra pith. Throw out any pale/strange-looking seeds along with the skin and the pith.

Pomegranate and Roasted Kabocha Squash Salad

1 large pomegranate or 2 small pomegranates, seeded

1 small kabocha squash, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch thick "C" shapes (no need to peel)

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons tamari

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne



Baby spinach

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the squash pieces in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, tamari, cumin, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cayenne. Pour the sauce mixture over the squash and stir to coat.

Put the coated slices on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn them over and bake for 15 more minutes.

When the squash is finished, put together salad bowls that include baby spinach, 2 to 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, 2 to 3 tablespoons hummus and 1 tablespoon pecans. Top with warm squash. Serves 4.