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Harvest Dinner Part 1

Well, I can’t believe November is almost over! So is the semester! Woo hoo! It has gone by really fast which sounds like a cliche but is true. Since we were in Vegas (lucky us) for Thanksgiving this year, I was determined to  have a big dinner when we were back. It finally happened a week or so ago and this post will also happily coincide with our American friends ‘  Thanksgiving. We had a couple of couples over including one tiny guest who was only interested in mashed sweet potato for some reason (probably because she only has 2 teeth). I did three courses and I’m going to share the details of the salad course today!

I wanted to do something fairly hearty but not too filling. I recently went to a great new vegetarian restaurant in town called The Acorn and had a delicious main that really inspired this dinner; it had spelt and mushrooms  and a beautifully savoury peppercorn sauce. I  loved the chewy and flavourful spelt and was determined to make some soon. I was a bit worried that the spelt would be labour intensive and would require like overnight  soaking and rinsing and have a four hour cooking time but when I looked it up I was pleasantly surprised. It’s easier to make than rice! I wanted some fall elements and some classic Thanksgiving flavours so cranberry was a must; arugula is one of my favourites so that was a must too. I hope you like the result!

Next week I’ll post about the main which was a Mushroom Pie with Roasted Vegetable Gravy

Spelt and Arugula Salad with Cranberry Apricot Dressing (serves 4-6)

the salad

1 C spelt (cook according to instructions here)

2/3 C. walnut pieces

2/3 C. dried cranberries

6 oz arugula (about half of one of those plastic containers of already washed leaves)

-once spelt has cooled combine with walnuts and cranberries

-place arugula in a separate bowl

the dressing

1/2 can cranberry concentrate, thawed

1/3 c. apricot jelly (I had apricot on hand but raspberry or strawberry would work too)

1 T balsamic vinegar

1 T sugar

1/2 c. olive oil (you can use a little more or less)

-place ingredients except oil in blender and turn on low

-pop that little thing out of the lid and add olive oil in a slow stream (I take no responsibility for blender spray mishaps!)

-once emulsified, check that the flavour is to your liking and add a little salt and pepper

-toss the spelt mixture with about half the dressing and let marinate for an hour or so

-toss the arugula with the other half right before serving

-place 2/3 C  spelt on the plate and top with some arugula- pile it up high for the best presentation

-enjoy!

The Finished Product

 

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Autumn Flavours Must Be Obeyed

orange sesame dressing

I had big plans a couple of weeks  ago to post some fruity dressings and light summery salads. Unfortunately, the new school year has interfered a bit. After tromping across campus a few times, doing my readings and attempting to go to the gym, work and have a social life, my blogging has fallen a bit low on the priority scale. But I’m ready to dive back in. I finally had two days in a row off this week and am getting a chance to do  a little pleasure reading and writing.

I knew I wanted to do a salad for my next post but was feeling a little uninspired. I headed down to Whole Foods to fire up my brain and creative juices. I left empty-handed because everything was too expensive. I also noticed that it’s Fall! Berry prices have skyrocketed (duh) because they’re out of season. I journeyed across the street to a less esthetically pleasing but better priced grocery store and suddenly my idea of light, juicy flavours became one of robust, mellow and savoury ingredients. Pears, squash, yam, dark greens and grains but a little citrus to brighten it up and maybe some sesame to lend it an earthiness. Although sesame is often associated with Asian flavours I think it syncs well with orange veggies and starchy foods too. We have had an amazing August and September here in Vancity with lovely sunny weather almost every day. With risk of setting off the rain gods, I have to  say that it hasn’t rained in almost three weeks! That being said, I was getting a little tired of wearing shorts and skirts with bare legs every day. I was able to snug out in my new soft hoodie and jeans on my shopping trip and had a nice walk to boot.

I ended up grabbing some yams, garlic, spinach, quinoa, oranges and dried pears. Hopefully you will like the results. There are a few more steps than your average salad but I think it will be worth it.

Hearty Yam, Spnach and Quinoa Salad with Sesame Orange Dressing

Yield : 4 servings

Step 1 the yams

2 yams or 1 thanksgiving size big one, peeled, cut in to med chunks

2 oranges (just 1/4 for this step)  1/4 juiced

1 T orange zest

1 T sesame oil

1 T sesame seeds

salt and pepper

-preheat oven to 375

-toss ingredients together, lay in single layer on baking sheet

-bake 35 min

-small dice when cool

-this can be done the day before if you want just bring back to almost room temp when tossing the salad

Step 2 : the dressing

1 1/2 oranges, juiced

2 T sesame oil

1 t sesame seeds, toasted

1 t sugar

1 T orange zest, minced

1-2 dashes hot sauce

-whisk ingredients together

Step 3: the salad

the salad

1 C cooked quinoa

2-3 C washed spinach, cut if leaves are large

diced yams

4 slices dried pear, fine diced

-combine with dressing, toss and serve!

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