Roasted squash with molasses cider glaze

roasted squash with molasses cider glaze and wild rice and barley pilaf
If there is any consolation to shorter days and cold weather it is hearty meals made of foods that stick with you like nobody’s business.

That’s why turning the calendar to November is as good an excuse as any to cook more substantial meals and load your plate with winter vegetables and whole grains.

This isn’t about bulking up for winter, it’s about eating for the season and enjoying warming food that’s satisfying…

Of course it helps if your cold weather side dish recipes are a little healthy and get you eating your vegetables and whole grains.

Roasted squash with molasses cider glaze

Fine dining can be had at home, any night of the week.

We go through a good 50 pounds of buttercup squash each year and I have about a dozen ways that I like to prepare it.

Roasting wedges of squash is a particular favourite because it’s easy to prepare and looks pretty on a plate.

It’s especially delicious served alongside a hearty and flavourful pilaf of wild rice and hulled barley.

This pilaf is warming, seasoned with aromatic turmeric, cumin and coriander and tossed with currants and toasted almonds for added flavour and texture.

Pair these two dishes with roasted pork tenderloin and cranberry sauce with apple.

 

WIld rice and barley pilaf

 

Wild rice and barley pilaf

(Adapted from my friend Kara’s wild rice & lentil salad recipe)

Serves 8

  • 1 cup wild rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup hulled barley, farro or pot barley
  • 1 cup minced red onion
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup currants or dried cranberries
  • ½ cup toasted slivered almonds or pumpkin seeds

 

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup vinegar (white wine vinegar or cider vinegar)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Combine wild rice in a pot with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Cook until tender then drain.
  2. Combine barley with 3 cups water in a heavy pot. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until tender (but still chewy), about 40 minutes. Add more water during cooking, if necessary.
  3. Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl, whisk until combined.
  4. Add currants to dressing and let rest while you prepare the remaining salad ingredients.
  5. Toss cooked rice with barley and dressing.
  6. Fold in onion and parsley and sprinkle with almonds.

 WIld rice and barley pilaf

Roasted squash with molasses-cider glaze

  • One buttercup squash cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • Olive oil for brushing squash
  • Sea salt & fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cider or apple juice
  • ¼ cup Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with oil.
  3. Lay squash wedges cut side down and brush the top side with olive oil.
  4. Season with salt & pepper
  5. Roast for about 25 minutes, flipping half way through (time will vary so keep checking)
  6. While squash are roasting combine molasses and cider in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer , remove from heat and stir in butter.
  7. When squash are done, stand them up on their skin edge and drizzle with molasses-cider glaze.
  8. Plate and pass the leftover glaze for anyone who wants a little extra.

roasted squash with molasses cider glaze and wild rice and barley pilaf

Oops, forgot the meat. Pair this dish with roasted pork tenderloin in a red currant glaze:

Molasses and red currant jelly glazed pork tenderloin with garlic and herbs

One more thing…

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Here’s to eating well, everyday,

 

Farro with kale and cranberries – a hearty grain side dish

Farro pilaf with kale and cranberries

We still have winter boots in a heap by the back door. It’s not that we think we’ll need them again before December. It’s late April afterall and even if it snows again (which it won’t) there’s no way any of us wants to put winter boots on again. We’d rather have cold soggy sneakers. It’s that whole winter-to-spring transition that I struggle with. The effort required to put the winter stuff away and haul out all of the spring and summer things.

I have the same season-change challenge with my cooking. On the sunny spring days I don’t feel like heavy winter stews but I can’t quite recall my go-to dishes for spring. My gear shifting is slow.

This farro with kale and cranberries is a good bridge between the two seasons.

It can be hot and hearty in the winter but a warm side dish as spring rolls around. I created the recipe as a way to use up some leftover kale and realised that molasses is the perfect sweetener to stand up to kale and heavy grains. I chop my kale fairly fine so my kids don’t try to pick it out. (So far, so good.) Also, adding navy beans would turn this into a filling main dish.

 

Farro with kale and cranberries (and molasses vinaigrette)

  • 1 cup of farro (barley or brown rice work well too)
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • Half a bunch of kale (about 6 stalks, leafy parts only), washed and chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • Sea salt & pepper
  • Squeeze of lemon juice and zest of one lemon
  • Cook farro (or your grain of choice) according to package instructions. Fluff and set aside.

Over medium heat saute the onion in a tablespoon or two of olive oil. When softened add the kale.

Stir and cover to let the kale wilt. Stir frequently so the kale cooks evenly. This should take only 5 minutes or so.

When the kale is done to your liking, turn the heat to low, stir in the farro and toss with the dressing (recipe below…you won’t need all of it).

Add the dried cranberries & walnuts. Season with sea salt & pepper.

Add the lemon zest and juice. Serve warm.

Molasses vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. Grandma Fancy Molasses
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Sea salt & pepper

Combine dressing ingredients in a jar with a snug lid and give it a good shake to combine.