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squash

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!
Melissa

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21 Responses to “spicy squash salad”

  1. CoconutGal says:

    Yummmmalicious!!! I loooove spicey and I love squash. Thanks for this recipe!

    I loved what you said about gluten free being a gift and not a burden. I totally agree.

    Going to check out that post on grinding your own spices too. Thanks for sharing Melissa!

  2. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    Another beautiful photograph and another fabulous recipe to try. I’d heard that cinnamon is good for us but couldn’t remember why so as usual, thanks for the added info.

    I’m sat at my table eating a late supper of English Brie (yes really!) and homemade red onion marmalade… now that’s something you might like.

    Goodnight all.

    Cid

  3. Melissa says:

    Coco,

    We’re on the same path with this. It’s whatever you choose to make it, I guess we just choose to make it fun. The alternatives to wheat are wonderful and abundant. I wouldn’t be experimenting with half this stuff if I didn’t have to. It’s a blessing in disguise!

    :-)

  4. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    Red onion marmalade? Is it homemade by you? Yes, yes, that is definitely something I might like. Might like? I most definitely would like. How do you make it? It sounds wonderful and I can imagine many uses.

    Mmmmm…

  5. Miles says:

    Melissa,
    A great post! Squash is so versatile isn’t it? I love flavouring it with a Moroccan style masala before roasting it. I make a good sized batch of it which I roast and split in half. One half is left as a roast vegetable and the other half is pureed and mixed with chopped, spiced dates, anything left is combined and turned into a soup.
    Like I said, it’s versatile :)

    Miles

  6. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    Red Onion Marmalade:

    1 tablespoon oil
    3 large red onions finely sliced
    50g brown sugar
    1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce (I recommend Linghams)
    125ml red wine
    75ml balsamic vinegar

    Heat oil in a pan, add onions and cook for five minutes. Add sugar and chilli sauce and 75ml cold water. Cover and cook for 15 minutes then add 125ml red wine and the balsamic vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes until syrupy, then store as you would for any preserve or pickle. Great with cheese, cold meats and pate. Some people add a tablespoon of mustard seeds at the beginning but it’s optional.

    Cid

  7. Melissa says:

    Miles,

    Thanks for the comment and reading it made me think that squash is better roasted. I do that a lot, but don’t with some recipes. I think it should always be roasted — I like it better that way. And good idea about making a batch and using it several different ways. I like that, it makes life easy when you have things prepared and ready to use.

    I’m starting to understand the spice choices better, thanks to you and your gang. Yes, “Moroccan style” is what I meant with this. I just didn’t know what to call it.

    :-)

  8. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    I’m going to make this and do a post on it one of these days. Is that alright with you? Since you included the recipe I’m assuming it’s okay, but thought I’d ask first. Thank you SO much for adding it with your comment!

    It looks very good and other than the math thing with converting the amounts, I should be able to handle this just fine. (Famous last words.)

    :-)

    Thanks, Cid. You’re a doll! I can’t wait to try it.

  9. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    I forgot, what sort of offbeat apron is necessary when preparing this marmalade? Do you wear that lovely vintage floral patterned apron from the 60s? The one I saw in the Easter Tree photo?

    Sometimes what you wear has everything to do with the outcome of the dish. I know you are the queen of unconventional culinary garb, so I thought I better ask.

    :-)

  10. Cid says:

    Melissa,

    I’d be very pleased for you to do a post on the red onion marmalade…. as to the sartorial rules, I feel I can trust you completely to automatically know just the right thing to wear :) Thought of you today, one of our national stores had some fleece wellington boot liners for sale. Knowing what it can be like during the winter months for you and in my drafty old house, they’d be perfect…. quite what they’d look like with all the other fashion statements we’ve both got, heaven knows but when has that ever stopped us :) Anyway, enough talk of winter, it’s practically summer and time for the very British, Chelsea Flower Show… what’s more it’s stopped raining and I’m munching on a pistachio macaron… life is good indeed!

    Cid

  11. lo says:

    Squash being one of the favorites around our house, I was immediately attracted to this recipe. Roasted squash makes such great use of the natural sugars in the squash — I can’t think of a better technique to substitute.

    Am also a big fan of grinding one’s own spices — not only do you get the FRESHEST flavors, but an added bennie is that your whole spices keep SO much longer than pre-ground!

  12. Melissa says:

    Cid,

    Wellie cross-trainers are definitely on my wish list. A bit fetching, but also functional — in primrose yellow, maybe?

    Pistachio macaroons and flower shows? Aaah, that all sounds so wonderful. On my end of the world, it was a long hike yesterday and my own little energy bars. I’ll post the recipe. You’re right, life is good!

    I’ll await the delivery of fresh onions from my CSA farmers, then I’ll make your marmalade. I’m looking forward to it.

    :-)

  13. Melissa says:

    Lo,

    You’re right, freshness is key and there is a huge difference in the freshness of grinding your own, isn’t there!? I love it.

    I also agree that roasting is a better way to go with squash. And like Miles said, it’s so versatile!

  14. Kay says:

    Hey Melissa! I’ve been grinding my own spices for several years. Since I grow some of my spices, I had to learn how. My Mr. Coffee bean grinder is my favorite grinding tool.

    I also just discovered the GREAT deal on BULK spices at Penzey’s. All their spices except some soup stocks are gluten free, so shopping there is fun and worry free.

    They sell their spices in tiny shakers, medium shakers and bulk bags. The 4 oz. bulk bags cost about the same as one tiny jar. I stocked up on my favorites! Their shallot salt is divine!

  15. Wow, so much good stuff here today! I need a new mortar and pestle for grinding. I had some lightweight wooden version from my college days (a century ago) that I finally passed on. Until then, I do really like Penzey’s spices, too.

    OMG, red onion marmalade. You know me and my texture issues … I’ve never been a marmalade fan, but I love every ingredient in that and I love red onions. Just the thought of it has my taste buds perked up!

    As far as your squash salad, I really may make this for our support group meeting tonight. I wanted to make something else super healthy, but different–this looks like just the ticket.

    Oh, last, you know I’m in the “being gluten free is a gift” court. ;-)

    Thanks!
    Shirley

  16. Oh, I wrote all that and still forgot to say, “picnickers” is a word, but with the “k” added. Same as for “panicked.” Our crazy English language! ;-)

    Shirley

  17. Melissa says:

    Kay,

    We have a Penzy’s here and it’s wonderful. We also have a local spice shop that is great as well.

    We’re on the same page with the shallot salt. I love that stuff and have given it out for gifts.

    I’m so jealous of how wonderful your “farm” looks this spring. Good job, garden girl!

  18. Melissa says:

    Shirley,

    As always, thanks for the great comments. Yes, Cid has some good recipes up her sleeve (macaroons are a favorite)! Hope your support group meeting went well. I’m about to start my own — holistically inclined.

    :-)

    Thanks for the picnicker tip. Duh — for some reason that never entered my mind.

  19. The support group meeting went great. I bought all the ingredients for the spicy squash dish, but ran out of time. I’m like that often with our meetings … so much I want to make and share (sometimes “test” LOL), and I just underestimate how long it takes to do it all.

    That is so fantastic that you are starting your own group! Having a support group is extremely rewarding, Melissa. You’ll change people’s lives and yours will be enriched by the experience as well. Wish I could participate … :-(

    We had some terrific fresh salads at this one from our member’s gardens and lots of other healthy stuff to offset a little homemade pizza indulgence. I also make CoconutGal’s homemade two-ingredient dairy-free ice cream for everyone to try. YUM!

    Shirley

  20. [...] effect with my tabouli? Well, in last week’s shopping trip, I picked up some cilantro to make Melissa’s Spicy Squash Salad. (I had planned to make Melissa’s wonderful salad for our support group meeting, but, alas, [...]

  21. Clearly I’m behind on my blog reading! I made my way over to your page and there are at least three posts I haven’t read. Thanks for posting this – it looks like a good alternative to potato salad (and we are certainly entering potato salad season!). And I too have found my need to eat gluten free to be a fun challenge and a perfect excuse to experiment in the kitchen. We are pretty lucky.

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