It’s been more than a month since I posted my last blog from the beaches of Florida...and suddenly, its twenty degrees outside and Thanksgiving Day! How did that happen? And what better occasion to share a delicious harvest recipe featuring a cornucopial favorite: winter squash.
But first, a brief explanation for my absence. No—I didn’t run away with a pod of dolphins (sigh). I’ve been home in Western Massachusetts, witnessing the emergence of bare branches and absorbing, activating and working with Reiki, the healing energy system transmitted and taught to me in Florida last month by Reiki master, psychic healer and author Diane Stein. After intensive practice and further attunement, I am pleased to begin offering Reiki healings and energy balancing as an adjunct to nutritional counseling for my clients.
Of course during these many weeks of inner transformation, I have still been eating and preparing food! I’ve had a lot of new "raw materials" to work with as well, lol, brought to market by the wonderful organic farmers of the Pioneer Valley. I’m astounded at the variety of never-before-seen fruits and vegetables our farmers introduce to the locally-grown table each year… new and unusual shapes and colors of peppers, heirloom tomatoes, baby potatoes, squashes, apples, pears and more. Amazing!
My latest vegetable crush is on Orange Sunshine kabocha. This hefty baby is the red/orange-skinned version of my beloved "buttercup" squash, formerly the sweetest, most velvety winter squash I had tasted. That is to say, before my new squash crush changed things forever.
Orange Sunshine’s bumpy, scarlet-tinged outer skin hides richly hued, orange-gold flesh within. When baked at 400 degrees, cut side down in a pan of water, the flesh of this beauty becomes soft, smooth and sugary enough to give garnet yams a run for their money. Eaten raw, it is surprisingly crisp, juicy and, yes, super sweet! Who knew?
The raw winter squash raw-velation came to me while preparing my first Orange Sunshine for the oven. Once I started crunching on thin slivers of fresh squash and realized how DELICIOUS it was in its natural state, I couldn’t bring myself to bake the whole thing! Setting some hunks aside, snugly wrapped in a plastic bag in the fridge, I came up with this recipe the following day.
Combining gorgeous Orange Sunshine kabocha with royal Purple Cabbage creates a magnificent color combination, a visual feast fit for a queen. In my Autumn Empress Salad, this imperial vegetable duo is topped with an exotic savory dressing, spiced with curry and rich in protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids from golden hemp and thickening chia seeds. For a hotter version, double the curry powder and add cayenne pepper to taste.
Enjoy Autumn Empress Salad as a main meal or simple side. For a regal presentation, spoon into pale green butter lettuce boats and imagine them as crunchy royal barges, floating straight down your plate in the direction of your happy mouth and belly. ☺
Autumn Empress Salad with Curried Hemp Seed Dressing
1½ - 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
1½ - 2 cups grated Orange Sunshine kabocha squash
¼ cup hemp seeds
1 Tbs white chia seeds
½ lemon, peeled and pitted
1 lime’s juice
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp each curry powder, turmeric powder
1 tsp raw honey or agave, or 3 drops liquid stevia extract
1 cup cold water
Serving Suggestion Ingredients
2 butter lettuce leaves per person
4 slices honeycrisp apple per plate
Shred or finely chop purple cabbage leaves after removing the thick inner stem. Grate kabocha squash in hunks, by first cutting off a slice and removing any seeds clinging to the center, then cutting a wedge that will grate easily. Hold the skin side of the squash towards your palm and grate only the inner flesh. The remaining strip of skin may be eaten by you, composted or given to the dog. (My dog is crazy for squash!) Place shredded cabbage and grated squash in a large bowl and toss gently to combine.
Add all dressing ingredients to a high speed blender and blend on high until creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Spoon into butter lettuce leaves if desired and garnish plates with crisp, sweet apple slices. Apples combine well with this beautiful raw salad, provided no starches, cooked veggies or animal proteins are eaten at the same meal.
Wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!
With grateful ♥, Diana