Winter Salads

Shortly after Thanksgiving I stop buying fresh salad greens.  Yes, we really do have greenhouses in the northern tier, but eating seasonally means using what is available (for a reasonable price), buying locally or using whatever you put by from the garden.  However, this doesn’t mean giving up salads.  Crunchy goodness isn’t synonymous with romaine lettuce.  Salad like soup can be made from almost any vegetable (because that’s what I mostly eat).   One of the things that is readily available in the markets here is butternut squash.  Now, there are endless ways to prepare squash, but almost all of them involve cooking in one form or another and I had never heard of eating butternut squash raw.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across a recipe by Mark Bittman (The Minimalist) of the New York Times using raw butternut squash.  This is my adaptation of his recipe using ingredients from my kitchen.

Raw Butternut Squash with Dried Fruit and Walnuts


Raw Butternut Squash Salad 003








  •  1 smallish butternut squash, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup of dried fruit (I used a combination of dried cherries and golden raisins but you could use cranberries or almost any dried fruit – go ahead, live dangerously)
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped pickled ginger (the original recipe calls for fresh, but I made pickled ginger this year so I used that and it was GOOOD)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • 4 tablespoons of sherry vinegar.  (I substituted half balsamic vinegar and half tawny port)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


Cut off the ball part of the squash and save it for another recipe.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad 007








Peel and slice the neck portion and grate.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad 010








In a bowl, combine the grated butternut squash, the dried fruit, walnuts, salt and pepper.  In a small jar, combine the olive oil and the vinegar/port mixture.  Shake well and toss with the squash mixture.

Raw Butternut Squash Salad 017

 Serve immediately, or put in the refrigerator to chill overnight.

Mixed Pickle Relish

It’s time to start using up those little treats from the garden.  Remember the pickles I made last fall: green beans, carrots, cucumbers?  No, well here they are, and this is going to be one of the easiest side dishes ever.  Serve it like a salad with some rich like curry, or serve it like relish.  It’s even good on sandwiches.

Pickled Carrots, beans and Cucumbers

Pickled Carrots, beans and Cucumbers








1/2 cup pickled carrots (cubed)

1/2 cup pickled green beans (chopped)

1/2 cup pickled cucumbers (bread and butter variety)

1/2 cup pickled red onions (chopped)

Mixed Pickle Salad

Mixed Pickle Salad








Combine in a pretty bowl.  That’s it.  Summer crunchy in the middle of winter.



Healthy Soups Are Good Medicine

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates Winter is here in earnest and flu season is hitting its peak.  The really bad news is that the vaccine this year isn’t as effective as in years past so supporting your immune system is a good way to stay healthy.  Food as medicine is a very old idea and here are two great soups to help boost your immune system plus provide a bowl of comfort when you’re fighting off the miseries.  My first soup is a serious flu and cold fighter but it’s not a great first course on date night.

Garlic Soup

Ingredients: 3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and diced 1 – 3 small parsnips, peeled and diced 1 large carrot, peeled and left whole 1 small onion, diced 6-8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil

What You Need

What You Need

In a heavy saucepan, sauté the onion in the melted the butter (or oil).  Add the minced garlic. Garlic Soup 10   Saute onion until translucent and the garlic is fragrant but not browned.   Add the parsnips and potatoes and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Garlic Soup 14






Add the stock and the whole carrot, cover and simmer until the vegetables are fork tender. Garlic Soup 17                                                                                                                                     Remove the carrot and set aside. Blend the soup until smooth. Garlic Soup 20

Slice the carrot and add back to the soup.  Garnish with ground black pepper and crackers. Garlic Soup 21 But what if you already feel awful and your tummy is out of sorts.  Sometimes you need comfort as well as an immunity boost.  This soup is will fix you right up and even kids and cranky husbands like it.

Spicy Ginger-Carrot Soup

This is based on a recipe I found for Punjabi Ginger Soup with a few added tweaks.  It really is delicious and you’ll eat it again and again even if you’re not feeling under the weather. Ingredients: 1 large onion, diced 1 sizable knob of ginger (about 2 tablespoons grated), or you can use powdered ginger. 2 carrots, peeled and chopped 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter if you prefer) 1 tablespoon cumin seed 3 teaspoons ground turmeric 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (to taste) Salt and pepper to taste 1 15-ounce can of full fat coconut milk Spicy Ginger Soup 2           In a heavy skillet, saute cumin seed, turmeric and pepper flakes in the coconut oil until the spices are fragrant. Ginger soup 002           Add the ginger, salt, onion and the carrot and sauté for another 2-3 minutes. Pour in the can of coconut milk and simmer until the carrot is tender.

Ginger soup 007

Spicy Ginger Carrot Soup

  Blend until smooth, garnish with some chopped mint and serve with some crusty bread. Ginger soup 013   There’s ginger to settle your tummy, tumeric to boost your immune system, a bit of pepper to help the aches and stuffy nose, and smooth yummy coconut milk to make everything feel all better.  Enjoy!