I’m not sure when this happened, but I’m not really a snack person anymore. I used to be the girl with a tupperware of blueberries in her purse (which, btw, weird), or a full container of peanut butter stored greedily in her desk drawer. Ryan would carry around snacks for me in case “Hangry Katie” reared her crabby head.
These days? Nope. I noticed a couple months ago I didn’t have any snacks in my designated “snack drawer” at work, so I bought some fancy sweet n’ spicy roasted almonds. I forgot about them and they went bad. Whomp whomp.
I’ve realized with time (30 years, to be exact), that I function better with bigger meals and fewer snacks. None of this “5 small meals a day” or any other plan that needs exhaustive planning yet is marketed as “energy building.” I eat when I’m hungry until I’m not anymore. #MealGoals to live by.
Is this a weird way to open a post about roasted chickpeas, which are usually a snack? Probably.
It feels like an eternity since I’ve sat down and shared a recipe with all of you…probably because that’s kind of the situation here. A three month break (!!!) in the blog world is forever. Especially when there was a time a short while ago when I was working long hours trying to post twice a week.
It’s unfortunate that the millennial in me is going to have to describe this, but the overwhelming feeling I had in December was “I can’t even.” Those feelings weren’t exclusively for the blog – they were basically with everything: work, wedding planning, social expectations, you name it and it overwhelmed me.
So, I stepped away from the only thing I could – blogging. It helped, because instead of creating my own anxiety about recipe fails and poor lighting among a plethora of other life stressors, I spent my weekends nurturing my relationships and chilling out, which I don’t do easily.
I cooked plenty, but instead of scraping the bottom of my burnt-out blogger brain barrel for new ideas, I stuck to a few favorites recipes (this and this) and tried some bookmarked recipes I’d been eyeing for a while. In fact, I’m still doing that – this week we’ve been devouring Dana’s loaded veggie nacho soup, and I’m soaking chickpeas tonight for these falafel waffles with harissa tahini tomorrow.
I realize, given what is happening in two days, that this should probably be a recipe with squash, or brussels sprouts, or sweet potatoes, or regular potatoes, or maybe a pie, if I felt fancy. I don’t though; I pretty much just want to sit here in my sweatpants with my chili and my new Adele CD.
Truth be told, I don’t cook too much on Thanksgiving, so I don’t feel overly excited by recipes geared towards that one meal. My mom, despite being a vegetarian who doesn’t really love food, feels compelled to make a large traditional Thanksgiving dinner every year. She and I usually fill our plates with the sides, which are deliciously carb-focused: stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean and artichoke casserole (with bread crumbs), and, of course, rolls.
Remember that sweet potato obsession I was talking about last week? It only gets more intense when I find beautiful PURPLE sweet potatoes!
The first time I bought those purple beauties I made myself some baked sweet potato fries. The second time I made this dream salad of sorts, with roasted brussels sprouts, tuscan kale, chopped pistachios, goat cheese, and a warm balsamic dressing.
Like this kale salad from last winter, this salad is meant to be enjoyed warm, or at room temperature. You cook garlic, shallot, salt and sugar in olive oil, and then blend it up with balsamic until smooth and emulsified. Rubbing the warm dressing into the kale helps make the greens tender and less bitter. When you toss the creamy goat cheese crumbles with the warm greens and roasted vegetables, it melts ever so slightly, adding extra creaminess to every bite.
This salad has so many of my favorite things:
Garlicky roasted veggies
Healthy and hearty tuscan kale
Crunchy chopped pistachios
Creamy goat cheese
Subtly sweet and tangy balsamic dressing
Since this salad is both pretty and packed with goodness, I brought it to a Halloween party last weekend. Yes, I’m the girl who shows up to a party with a roasted vegetable salad…and beer, of course, because balance.
If you can’t find purple sweet potatoes, you can definitely sub the standard orange variety. If you don’t want to spring for shelled pistachios (they can be pricey – yikes), feel free to swap chopped walnuts or slivered almonds.
This salad would be great for Thanksgiving, but it also reheats well for leftovers (I’ve been eating it on the side of everything this week). Let me know if you make it!
It feels necessary to admit that I have been sitting here playing Adele, Taylor Swift, and One Direction over and over and over on Vevo while editing these photos. The same 3 songs. On repeat. For about 2 hours.
Reminder: I’m turning 30 in January. Just going to throw that out there.
I readily admit that I make a much better grownup than I did a teenager or young adult, but part of me will always be a pre-teen with all the feelings that need to be handled with pop music.
Speaking of pre-teen me, my younger self wouldn’t look twice at these tacos. Until 5 years ago I had no interest in curry. At the time I also didn’t own knives that could cut butternut squash. Our first Christmas together Ryan bought be a pair of nice knives; He couldn’t believe this girl who loved to cook got by with knives from Ikea, but I made it work, with only a few (minor) accidents.
Now that I have nice knives and a taste for curry, these tacos are right up my alley. I usually roast squash, but switched things up this time around by sautéing my butternut cubes, and I might never go back. It takes a little more attention, since you need to frequently stir the squash, but the cooked squash ends up caramelizing on the outside a bit, giving it just the slightest crust with a tender center. Once the squash is softened, I cooked up some garlic in one corner of the pan, then sprinkled on a simple but flavorful blend of curry powder, cumin, and cayenne. Spicy, savory, subtly sweet goodness!
To add some variety, I tossed cannellini beans with fresh parsley, thyme, and lemon. Those beans add some brightness to the curry, along with a healthy protein boost. The cashew cream I posted last week really makes the whole dish, by adding some thick and creamy moisture to the mix.
You don’t NEED to eat the butternut/beans/cream mixture as tacos. You could eat it on its own, OH OR OVER A SALAD (sorry for the caps, that just sounds good right now), but aren’t tacos more fun? I think so. I like handheld food.
If you’re a curry and squash (and spice!) fan, you need to give these tacos a try. Let me know if you do!
I'm Katie: lover of good cheese, cheap wine, and better-for-you baked goods. I live in Minnesota with my carnivorous other half Ryan ("The Beast"), and our funny little mutt puppy Teia. Author of The High-Protein Vegetarian Cookbook, January 2015.