Lately I’ve heard a few people say they’re in a dinner rut. They make the same go-to meals every week and have run out of ideas.
This time of year can be challenging when it comes to cooking. For one thing, we’ve just come off of summer and are used to a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables at our fingertips. For another, it’s pitch black and freezing at 5:30 p.m. All we want to do is make something easy, get cozy on the couch and watch Mad Men (or Boardwalk Empire, or Breaking Bad – BTW, I highly recommend these shows).
In truth, there is a variety of seasonal vegetables available at this time of year that you shouldn’t forget about!
Spaghetti, acorn, butternut and delicata (also called potato squash – it’s small and yellow with green stripes) squash are in season. They are healthy, delicious and easy to prepare. Just roast them, top with some butter and salt and pepper and voila! You can do something a little more advanced; the other day I roasted an acorn squash, pureed it with mustard, milk and nutritional yeast, and made a healthy mac and cheese. It was awesome. My husband was very skeptical about mac and cheese with no cheese, but he loved it.
Popular cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and cabbage. I know what you’re thinking: boring and gross. Well these veggies are cancer-fighting, and can be yummy if you’re willing to get creative. The other night I pan-fried some brussel sprouts with organic prosciutto and it was delish. Last night I made cauliflower mash and my husband said, “I’d eat this over regular potatoes any day.”
Root veggies such as sweet potatoes, parsnips and rutabaga are also in season. I make sweet potato, parsnip and rutabaga fries all the time. You can also chop them into cubes, and add them to chili, stew or a stir-fry. If you have a mandolin, slice sweet potatoes really thin and make sweet potato chips! Here’s my recipe for Cauliflower Mash. Get out of your rut and give it a try tonight!
1 head cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 small yellow onion
1 garlic clove minced
½ cup water or organic vegetable stock
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
½ cup parmesan or white cheddar cheese grated (optional)
Chop onions, garlic and cauliflower
In a large pot, heat oil on medium heat and sauté onions and garlic for about 5 minutes or until translucent.
Add chopped cauliflower and water or stock to the pot. Give it a stir, turn heat down slightly, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until cauliflower is soft and can be easily pierced with a fork. Stir in butter and season with salt and pepper.
Grate your cheese.
Once cauliflower is cooked, pour into a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. (You can also mash directly in the pot using a potato masher, depending on what texture you’re going for.) Scoop into a large bowl, grate cheese on top, and serve hot.
Don’t fall into a cooking rut during the fall and winter months. Choose a seasonal vegetable, Google it, and look for a unique recipe to try!
http://theotherbigo.ca/2012/11/18/healthy-mac-and-cheese/ (Healthy Mac & Cheese reference) http://www.foodland.gov.on.ca/english/food-facts.html (Seasonal produce in Ontario)