Miles, my favorite blogging chef recently published a post extolling the benefits of grinding your own spices (along with a recipe for curry). I’ve been following his blog for quite some time now and because of his influence, and the fact that he patiently answers my food questions (thanks, Miles), I’ve purchased my own spice grinder and pestle and mortar and I’m learning the nuances of what fresh spice or herb to use and when. Plus, if I start from scratch with a cumin seed and not a blend of spices, I know exactly what I’m eating. No possibility of gluten cooties.
When you have food issues and an assortment of ingredients are off limits, learning the fine (and not-so-fine) art of culinary experimentation becomes all the more important. Without getting too sappy, I’m lucky to have an innate interest and love for high-quality and nourishing food, making my gluten-free journey a gift and not a burden. I actually find it fun.
This recipe is an expression of my growing interest in spices and herbs, which by the way have all kinds of healing properties. So, let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.
Spicy squash salad
serves 8 picnicers (is that a word?)
what you need
3 to 4 cups squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1 inch cubes *
1 cup raisins
1 chopped apple *
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO for GDave)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon *
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin *
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, washed and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup toasted pecan pieces
what you do
1. Cook squash in large pot of simmering water until knife tender (it won’t take long, maybe 5 to 10 minutes). Add raisins during the last minute of cooking. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool.
2. Whisk together lemon juice, EVOO, garlic, honey, salt, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne in large serving bowl. Add squash, raisins, apple, cilantro and pecans. Toss lightly to coat. Serve at room temperature.
Adjust the dressing as needed. This may be too much or too little for your taste.
* Butternut squash is good in this recipe. You can also use sweet potatoes.
* I almost always use Fuji apples, because I’m addicted to them. Seriously addicted.
* I’m grinding my own cinnamon and cumin, but the pre-ground version is fine. Cinnamon helps keep blood sugar levels balanced and works as a circulatory stimulant. It’s also a carminative (fancy word for helps reduce gas and bloating). Cumin has been used in Ayurvedic healing for thousands of years. It stimulates the secretion of pancreatic enzymes, aiding digestion.
Go forth and spice up your food!