Category: roasted

Roasting Season (Roasted Pear, Spiced Pecan & Blue Cheese Salad)

The autumn leaves, vibrant and warm not long ago, seem to be turning dull and brown faster than the temperatures are dropping. There is a place, however, that is brighter than ever at this time of year. Adorned with rich autumnal hues, brimming with the season’s best squash, tubers and root vegetables, you can count on your local farmer’s market stands to bring some vibrancy back into your day. Behind the stands, stacks of mason jars line the walls, adjacent to pies overflowing with seasonal fruits. An intoxicating smell of mulling spice is in the air… Suddenly, when you’re here, the word autumn becomes synonymous with comfort. 

Trading flowy dresses for chunky cable knits, replacing bonfires with fireplaces, comfort is the word of the season – especially when it comes to our meals.
Is it possible for a salad to be a comfort food?
Don’t dismiss the idea just yet. Enter caramelized pears, spiced pecans, and blue cheese. Cheese is always comforting. (Unless you’re vegan. Horrah for Daiya shreds!) 
Toss these three things with a head of lettuce and voila! Autumn gourmet – comfort salad. 
So sit back, pull up your legwarmers, and breathe in that oddly comforting, subtle smell of burning insects of seasons’ past as you turn on your electric heater for the first time. And then, enjoy this salad. Let it warm your body and your soul. 
Or at least just your body. 
Or, eat it cold if you prefer.
You know, you should just eat this no matter what. 
Like now. 
Trust me.
Caramelized Pear, Spiced Pecan and Blue Cheese Salad 
an original recipe by allison sklar 
what you’ll need
1 head boston lettuce, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 medium sized just-ripe pears (fruit should be firm)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar 
Pinch sea salt
1 cup pecan halves
1 egg white
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika 
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves (optional)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp mayo or vegan mayo
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp honey or agave nectar 
how to do it

Roast your pecans
Preheat oven to 300F. Toss pecans with beaten eggwhite in a medium bowl. In seperate bowl, mix all of the spices together. Toss coated pecans with spice mixture. Spread evenly on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 23 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely. While pecans are roasting, prepare your pears.

Beware: your house is going to smell amazing.

PrePEAR (oh come on, you laughed.)
Slice pears into about 6 sections each. Remove seeds and stem. In a microwave safe bowl (or on the stovetop) melt butter and brown sugar together. Whisk in salt. Toss pears with butter/sugar mixture.
Lay evenly on parchment lined sheet. Once pecans are done, turn oven up to 325F. Roast pears for 15 to 18 minutes, or until they begin to soften and brown.

While pears are roasting, prepare dressing by combining all ingredients and whisking until smooth. Toss finished pears with chopped lettuce and pecans. Top with cheese and drizzle with dressing.

Enjoy!

Mid-East Feast (Roasted Squash with Cardamom)

Walking through the Plateau in Montreal on a friday night is always a new adventure. I love to immerse myself in the hubbub – which exists in large part thanks to the plethora of ethnic restaurants, trendy cafes and re-vapmed dive bars that line the streets. Whichever side of the world you’re from, you’re guaranteed to find a restaurant in this city that has what you’re looking for. And, if you’re in the mood to try new things, you will never be short on options.

Many people have voiced to me in the past their discontent with my vegetarianism (whether directly or indirectly) as it is an “inconvenience” to have to cater to my needs. To that sentiment I say, “Ha!” Being a vegetarian should never be viewed as limiting – it should instead be viewed as exciting: an excuse to get creative and try new food! I was quite excited when a friend suggested that we check out this funky looking place on Duluth, Khyber Pass, an Afghan restaurant with a number of  appealing meat-free menu items.

The food itself was similar to many of the middle-eastern dishes that I’ve tried before – looking around, I spotted many different rices and stews, I noted the common use of onions, tomatoes and legumes. What stood out to me however was the combination of spices and flavours. I immediately recognized the unique taste of cardamom in my main dish – and I absolutely loved it. I’ve only ever used cardamom in teas or in desserts before, never in anything savory. What a fantastic spice! The flavour complimented the sweet earthy squash, balanced out with the acidity of tomato, and softened with a hint of yogourt. I just HAD to re-create this dish at home. And I did – with great simplicity and success.


Roasted Butternut Squash 
with Sweet Tomato Sauce and Cardamom
an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
1 medium butternut squash, cubed (about 3 cups)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup basic tomato sauce*
2 tbsp real maple syrup
3 tsp cardamom powder / ground cardamom

for the garnish (optional)
1 tbsp plain yogourt
Roasted squash seeds

how to do it
Peel and cube squash, removing seeds. (Set seeds aside if roasting). Toss squash with olive oil. Wrap squash in parchment paper {How to: Cut double the length of parchment paper you’d need to line a 8×8” Pyrex dish. Place parchment in middle of dish and place squash inside. Fold paper over so that the squash is covered (the idea is not to let any of the squash be exposed.)} Poke holes in the parchment. Bake at 385F for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, combine tomato sauce, cardamom and maple syrup. Once cooked, remove squash from parchment and place directly into pyrex dish while still hot. Coat with tomato sauce mixture. Return to oven uncovered and bake for another 10 minutes.

Garnish with yogourt and roasted squash seeds. Enjoy!

*For the tomato sauce, you can make your own, or shortcut and use some good quality store-bought. I used Classico Tomato and Basil and it tasted wonderful. To make your own tomato sauce, scroll to the bottom of the following post: Drunken Tomato Sauce

Big Sweet Easy (Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sumac)


what you’ll need
1 large sweet potato, about 1.5 cups, cubed
1 tsp coarse ground sea salt
1 tsp coarse ground peppercorns
1 tbsp ground sumac
1 tbsp grapeseed or light olive oil

how to do it
Preheat oven to 400F. Toss sweet potato cubes with oil and spices. Wrap in parchment paper (papillote/envelope style) and place in baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven, let cool about 15 minutes before serving. 

Just Beet It (Roasted Beets with Dill)

Ahhh, December!

No, I don’t ski. And no, I don’t like the cold. I don’t even celebrate Christmas (Well, not technically. Though the tree in my living room would beg to differ.) Typical joys of the season aside, I am personally excited by December because it means that roasting season is in full swing!

Now, many of you omnivores may be asking, well, what on earth can a silly vegetarian possibly be roasting… vegetables? You bet! But not just any stand alone boring veggies – for the sake of bored tastebuds everywhere, I like to be creative.

My inspiration for this dish came in three parts:
(A) I have a massive bunch of leftover dill in the fridge.
(B) I’ve been on a Greek yogourt kick obsession lately.
(C) Two weeks ago, I purchased ten pound bag of beets. My father claimed I’d never eat them all.

Challenge? Accepted.

Though the photo above has an eerie resemblance to raw meat in a dish, no animals were harmed in the making of these delectable roasted beets with yogourt and dill sauce. Simple. Pretty. Filling. Perfect dish to pair with whatever else your little roasting heart desires, or enjoy them all on their own.

Nutrition Facts: If you’ve never eaten beets before, don’t fret! This is your chance to try them in all their glory. Much healthier than the sodium-laden pickled variety, roasted beets scream healthfood!  Not only are beets fibre rich, they are nutrient dense as well! The pigments that give beets their rich color are called betalains and are a unique phytonutrient.* They are known to provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. The consumption of beets is also known to be beneficial to the bloodstream due to their high iron content. What’s more, this dish has an unexpected nutritional benefit: loads of protein from the greek yogourt – a whopping 10g per serving!

Well, what are you waiting for? Beet it!

Roasted Beets with Yogourt Sauce
original recipe by Allison Sklar

what you’ll need
4 medium to large beets, greens removed
1 cup non-fat plain greek yogourt
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1 tbsp old fashioned grainy mustard**

how to do it
Heat oven to 425F. Wrap each beet in foil. Place on middle oven rack. Roast for 60 minutes. Remove from oven with protective glove – open up foil enough to let beets cool. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine yogourt, dill and mustard.  Cover and refridgerate until ready to use.
Once beets are cool enough to handle (about 30 minutes), remove from foil and slice into wedges. Toss with yogourt mixture and salt. Can be served warm or chilled.

* for more info on beet nutrients, click here
**if unavailable, substitute dijon

Not-So-Guilty Pleasures

Cold nights call for warm food; Uneventful nights call for guilty-pleasures. Tonight turned out to be chilly as well as boring and my cravings were teetering between something fried and something roasted. Other than a rare handful of chips, or an odd (and usually regretful) midnight diner visit, fried foods are infrequently seen in my diet. So maybe it was the hunger that had been building up for the last five hours, or perhaps it was the tempting smell of the diner across the way, but something made me decide that tonight would be a fried-food night. Now, before you go running off scared that I’m about to show you something greasy and heavy, I’ll let you in on a little secret: my fried dish was surprisingly nutritious. Since my budget for the week lies somewhere between zero and zero, I had to make due with what I had in the fridge. Alas, delicious sweet potato pancakes were born! I served my creation alongside roasted herbed acorn squash rings, filled with peppered smashed apples. Topped it all off with cool refreshing sour cream and chives. Cravings satisfied.

Herbed Roasted Acorn Squash
(serves one or two)

what you’ll need
• 1 acorn squash
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp crushed basil
• pinch salt, pepper
• 1/4 cup apple sauce

how to do it
Preheat oven to 375F. Cut squash into rounds, scooping out the middle. Place in shallow baking dish, coating with oil, basil and salt. Bake, covered in foil, for 30 minutes. Remove, flip pieces and return to oven, uncovered for 15 more minutes or until squash becomes slightly translucent and is tender to the touch. Serve with a dollop of apple sauce in the center of each, and top with fresh ground black pepper.

Sweet Potato Pancakes
(serves one)

what you’ll need
• 1/4 sweet potato, peeled
• 1 egg
• 1 tbsp milk
• 2 tbsp oil
• 3 tbsp sour cream
• 1 shallot, chopped


how to do it
Grate sweet potato into a small bowl. (I used a hand-held fine cheese grater.) Beat in egg. Add milk, beating until battery consistency is reached. Heat oil in fry pan. Drop half the batter in, spreading it in a circular motion. Flip once, when the edges are yellowing and bubbling. Blot on paper towels before serving. Mix sour cream and shallot (add a pinch of salt if desired). Garnish.