Roasted Butternut Squash and Orange Salad

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I missed most of Fall last year. Between training for a half marathon I didn’t end up completing, to getting 2 wisdom teeth pulled out (also see: uncompleted half marathon), to traveling for almost 8 weeks – it was a crazy few months there. I didn’t get to roast as many types of squash as I normally would. So when I was back to my home base around Christmas time, I was eager to get to it. But then things like a terrible viral throat infection and a move got in the way, and that pretty much brings us up to now.

Now, when most people are all squashed out. But not me!

When I was visiting Sri Lanka this past November, I had this really smooth, creamy Mixed Squash Soup which had the most wonderful citrus notes and fragrance (here’s an article where I went on and on about it), and I figured winter/fall time squashes and oranges do go together really well! But in our minds, they don’t coexist because of the seasons in which they are most popular. Enter February: the month where the squashes slowly start changing their outfits from brown to yellow and orange to green, and in come the Blood Oranges (just for a few weeks, sadly), ready to mingle with their sweet juices and ruby red flesh.

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Kale Mashed Potatoes and Baked Salmon with Lemon and Capers

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Thanks to the unrelenting (!), ever-changing Bay Area weather (hey! we all need to find something to complain about), I was out of commission for most of last week, and unable to do the things I had set out to do – at work, at home and of course, in the kitchen. Since the weather improved a bit on Sunday, and thanks to the husband, I had my meal prep for the week (detailed post on that coming soon!) in the bag, I actually had the time, energy and freedom to make something new. Also, ingredients. And writing this up while holding my breath watching Beyonce do this at the Grammys was a nice end to a week-long illness.

Sometimes you need to put together a meal that scores on all accounts:

  1. Relatively healthy but not dull
  2. A li’l indulgent but not over the top
  3. Quick
  4. Easily adaptable with ingredients available on hand
  5. Doesn’t require dirtying all the pots/pans you own
  6. Delicious!

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Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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Few years ago, I used to watch Top Chef and Top Chef Masters on Bravo TV very religiously. I may or may not have bought several Top Chef Masters episodes on Amazon Instant Video. One of the finalists was Rick Bayless, an American chef who has mastered Mexican Cooking. Something about his mild demeanor, warmth and the fact that he went to Mexico as a young man and ended up living there for several years, enchanted by authentic Mexican cooking, just stayed with me. He ended up winning the Top Chef Masters title that season because he stayed true to his humble, warm self and made some delicious Mexican food. I can’t wait to eat at his restaurant, Frontera Grill, the next time I’m in Chicago!

Since then I’ve been following his recipes, and their simplicity and deliciousness can’t be beat. One of the most underrated salsas out there, “salsa verde”, is usually the “medium” in the trio of “mild, medium and hot” salsas in typical Mexican restaurants. Most of the times its watered down, pale and dull. This “medium” salsa recipe below by Rick Bayless is the highest calling of the humble tomatillo, and literally takes 15 minutes to whip up! Perfect for sprucing up a bowl of cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables, scrambled eggs or the tip of your tortilla chip, this Tomatillo Salsa will always be at the ready.

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