I love Fall, and it seems like our weather knows Fall has arrived, because pretty much over night we’re all wearing jackets and the leaves are jumping off their branches. Every year when the weather changes, I just get so excited. From October to December, we have my birthday, Halloween, our anniversary, Julia’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve. It’s basically a nonstop party the last three months of the year, and what good is a party without great food?! This is the first real Autumn-inspired meal I’ve made this year, and it was a winner. Check it out:
Both of these are super easy to make, and they pair nicely together. The soup can be a bit rich, so the salad is the perfect counterpart – light, fresh, and slightly acidic. Here’s what you need:
Roasted Squash and Sweet Potato Soup:
• 1 small butternut squash, cut in half, seeds removed, peeled, and cut into 3 inch chunks
• 1 medium-large sweet potato (could use a yam, but I suggest the sweet potato – yes, they are different things), peeled and cut into 3 inch chunks
• 2 apples (Braeburn or Gala), peeled, core removed, cut in half
• 1 piece of super-thick cut maple bacon (like, 1 inch thick – you can usually get it cut that thick from your butcher), cut into lengths about two inches long
• 2 shallots
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 1/2 cup fresh apple juice
* 1/4 cup half and half
* pinch of nutmeg
* salt and pepper (white pepper if you have it, but black is fine)
Preheat your oven to 400 and put a sheet pan in the oven as it preheats. Once your oven reaches temp, let the pan sit in it for an additional 5-10 minutes. In a bowl, toss the bulleted ingredients (minus the bacon) with a little light olive oil, salt and pepper. Remove your hot pan from the oven and put all of the bulleted ingredients (including the bacon) on, then put back in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes, or until you see dark brown spots.
Remove the bacon from the sheet pan, cut into chunks and set aside. Put the rest of your ingredients (besides salt and pepper) into a blender and blend until smooth. If too thick, add more stock. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Service topped with a few of your bacon pieces.
Salad with Apples, Feta, and Cider Vinaigrette:
• 1/2 cup apple juice
• 4 tbsp cider vinegar
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 3 tbsp honey
• 1 tbsp dijon mustard
• 1 pinch each of cloves, cinnamon, and salt
• 4 cups arugula
• 4 cups baby romaine
• 1/2 cup dried cranberries
• 2 apples, peeled, cored, cut into small cubes, then tossed with a bit of the dressing and set aside
• good quality feta cheese, cut into cubes – just put as much or as little on as you want
• maple bacon pieces from making the soup
The dressing is simple. Whisk all that stuff together until it makes a dressing, then taste it. If it’s too vinegary, add a little more mayo and honey. If it’s to mayonnaisey, add more apple juice, vinegar and salt, etc etc..
The salad is…well… also simple. Put all the stuff in a bowl, toss around, then top with a bit of the dressing. Add a couple grinds of fresh black pepper, if you feel so inclined. Serve with a nice, crusty bread.
Even with the bread and hearty soup, my experiment wasn’t thrown off at all. I actually think I lost weight that day. By making the salad a bigger part of the meal, its lightness kept everything in check and I felt satisfied, and not heavy. It was a great meal to welcome Fall, and gave me a few more ideas for lighter, yet satisfying Autumn meals. Peace and love, ya’ll.