We have had the most beautiful fall here in Chicago. The temperature has been mild and sunny and even a few golden leaves remain clinging to their branches this late in November. It’s been difficult to sit down and write when all I really want to do is take long walks along the lakefront crunching the leaves beneath my feet. I do love fall, but the pleasure of it is often diminished by a slow growing feeling of dread that is the long, dark winter creeping toward me. I’m keenly aware that any day now I will wake up to frost on my bedroom windows indicating the end of one season and the beginning of the next.
But when you eat seasonally, the change in weather also means a change in the food you eat. For me, Chicago winters are so much more manageable when I think of all the warm, nourishing soups and hearty meals I’ll be making. Just as I look forward each fall to packing away my shorts and pulling out my cozy, wool sweaters, I also look forward to taking a break from light summertime meals and dusting off my crockpot and searching through last winter’s recipes. It’s time for sweet potato chili, tuscan bean soup and roasted root vegetables! I’m ready to switch out my morning green smoothie for spicy, warm carrot juice and apple, walnut oatmeal. Yum!
Last night, I made this butternut squash recipe and it felt like the perfect transitional meal from warmer to cooler days. The spicy arugula and light vinaigrette dressing contrasts perfectly with the sweeter, heartier squash and the lentils provide a satisfying source of protein. I also served it with a lemon baked cod fillet on the side.
I’ve been making this recipe for years and would love to take credit for it, but it comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Olive Oil, Sea Salt & Pepper: Healing with Fresh Foods by Jenn Cravato. This book is packed with simple, nourishing recipes. I highly recommend it!
Note: For the kids, I don’t pile the ingredients on top of each other, but place them on their plates in separate portions. I often do this. It seems less intimidating to them and they can pick and choose what part of the meal they want to eat.
Butternut Squash with Lentils & Arugula
1 butternut squash (1 1/2 – 2 lbs.)
1/2 cup black beluga lentils
1 1/2 cups water
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red onion, diced
2 cups baby arugula
sea salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
sea salt & pepper to taste
Have the butternut squash prepped and cut uniformly. Heat the saute pan on high. Add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and saute quickly. The squash should be slightly brown on the outside and soft on the inside. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Cook lentils in 1 1/2 cups of salted water until all water is absorbed. Using 2 tablespoons of olive oil, saute garlic and red onion on medium heat for 1 minute. Add the cooked lentils, remove from heat and season with sea salt and pepper. Plate the butternut squash and top with lentil mixture and baby arugula. In a separate bowl prepare the apple cider vinaigrette and drizzle on top.
Hope you enjoy this meal as much as we do!
P.S. Speaking of eating seasonally, have you ever read this book? It’s written by one of my all-time favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver. It details her family’s attempt to eat only locally grown food for an entire year. It will leave you inspired, I promise!