Golden Beet, Mango, and Avocado Salad

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Holy cow, this is such a great combo—one that I would not have come up with on my own. See, I had something similar recently in Santa Fe, at the lovely restaurant Paloma. The interplay of creamy avocado, earthy beets, and juicy-sweet mango was incredible … inspiring … memorable. I believe their salad was topped with pepitas, but I went with pine nuts for mine, along with a sprinkling of Tajin seasoning for zesty flavor and a hint of chile richness. Check out the recipe below, and then scroll down for beet and mango tips/how-tos.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
Author:

Golden Beet, Mango, and Avocado Salad

prep time: 10 Mcook time: 1 hourtotal time: 1 H & 10 M
Wow, what a trio: Earthy, tender golden beets, juicy-sweet mango, and creamy avocado come together with a barely-there dressing (the ingredients are so good that they need little embellishment). Each serving boasts a hefty 7 grams of fiber, too. Serve alongside tacos, enchiladas, grilled chicken, or seared steak.

ingredients:

  • 1 lb. trimmed golden beets (about 4 medium)
  • 1 mango
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 ripe, firm avocado
  • 2 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tsp. Tajin seasoning (see note below)

instructions:

How to cook Golden Beet, Mango, and Avocado Salad

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Wrap trimmed beets in heavy-duty foil. Roast at 425°F until tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Rub off and discard skins. Cut each beet into 8 wedges.
  3. Peel mango (a sharp paring knife works well for this). Carefully cut both mango "cheeks" from pit (see photos below). Slice mango cheeks crosswise.
  4. Place beet wedges and mango slices in a medium bowl. Drizzle with lime juice and oil, and sprinkle with salt. Toss gently to combine. 
  5. Peel and pit avocado; cut crosswise into slices. Arrange avocado and beet-mango mixture  on a platter. Sprinkle evenly with pine nuts, cilantro, and Tajin. 

NOTES:

Calories 221; Fat 12g (sat 2g); Protein 4g; Carb 28g; Fiber 7g; Sugars 20g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 350mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

How to Roast Beets

My favorite way to cook beets is to wrap them in foil and roast them in the oven. If you are pressed for time, though, you can wrap the beets in microwave-safe parchment paper and microwave on HIGH for 6 to 10 minutes. They won’t be quite as tender and moist, but they’ll still be good. Anyway, here’s how I roast in the oven. First, trim the tops of the beets and cut away any “tails.”

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Then wrap the trimmed beets tightly in foil.

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When the beets are done and have cooled off a bit, you can easily remove the skin. I like to use a paper towel to rub off the skins. Here, you can see little bits of skin in the foil; they just rub off easily, leaving a shiny, smooth peeled beet behind.

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Then simply cut each beet into into 8 wedges (and try not to gobble them all up).

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How to Cut a Mango

I know there are all kinds of tutorials online that show how to cut a mango. To me, the fastest, easiest way is to peel the entire mango and then cut off both “cheeks.” Holding the peeled mango (a paper towel might help you get a better grip—the peeled mango will be slippery) so that a narrower side is pointing up, slice somewhere between 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch from the middle. The pit will announce where it is, and your knife can just graze it as you cut down.

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And then cut off the other cheek, on the other side of the pit. Once the cheeks are off, you can slice ‘em, cube ‘em, or keep ‘em whole.

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I sprinkle this salad with Tajin seasoning. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a combo of dried chile, dehydrated lime, and sea salt. It’s tangy, it’s salty, and it’s roasty-toasty with the essence of chiles but not necessarily the heat. It is absolutely delicious sprinkled over mango or watermelon or pineapple, used to rim a margarita glass, tossed with popcorn, or dusted over grilled chicken or beef. You’ll find it with the Mexican or Latin American foods in most supermarkets, and you’ll be glad you did!

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Lime Shortbread with Cardamom Glaze

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Well, this post is short, sweet, and simple. No step-by-step photos or instruction needed! The cookies are easy to make and pretty hefty in size; one is plenty big to satisfy a sweet craving.

Yield: 24 cookies

Lime Shortbread with Cardamom Glaze

prep time: 2 hourcook time: 22 minstotal time: 2 hours and 22 mins

This simple slice-and-bake cookie gets all gussied up for the holidays with red and green accents from pomegranate and pistachios. The pomegranate is completely optional and will shorten the shelf life of the cookies, but boy is it pretty! I love kosher salt for these cookies. It gives you delicious little pockets of salty goodness throughout—because a one-note sweet treat without a little salt for balance is, well, flat and boring. Please note that there is no egg in this dough; that's not a mistake. This gives the cookies the most wonderful "short" texture that's absolutely irresistible.

ingredients:

Cookies:
  • 9 oz. whole-wheat pastry flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest (from 1 lime)
Glaze and Toppings:
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. meringue powder (this helps the glaze set up firmly; find it at craft stores)
  • 1/4 to 3/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 4 tsp. water (FYI: I tried this with lime juice and it was just too much)
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped pistachios
  • 2 Tbsp. pomegranate arils (optional)

instructions:

  1. To prepare cookies, combine flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
  2. Place butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer on medium speed until creamy (about 1 minute). Add oil, granulated sugar, vanilla, and lime zest; beat on medium speed until well blended (about 2 minutes). 
  3. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a 5-inch-long log. Wrap dough logs separately in plastic wrap; chill for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  5. Remove dough logs from refrigerator, and remove plastic wrap. Cut each dough log into 12 slices (reshape log to keep round shape as needed). Arrange cookies on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325°F for 22 - 25 minutes or until cookies are set and barely starting to brown around the edges. Cool cookies completely on pans.
  6. To prepare the glaze, combine 3/4 cup powdered sugar, meringue powder, and cardamom in a small bowl. Add water, and stir until smooth (glaze will be thin). Spread glaze evenly over cookies; sprinkle evenly with pistachios and pomegranate arils, if desired. Let cookies stand at room temperature until glaze is set, about 1 hour. 
  7. If you used pomegranate arils, store the cookies in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. If you omitted the pomegranate, store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

NOTES:

Calories 150; Fat 8g (sat 3g); Protein 1g; Carb 19g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 8g (added sugars 8g); Sodium 25mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

Chocolate-Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

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I just love these spiced chocolate sugar cookies! They taste like Mexican chocolate, with cinnamon warming the sweet chocolate notes. I use just a little bit of cocoa for more of a milk chocolate flavor than a dark chocolate one. See the notes below the recipe card for ingredient/decorating tips.

Yield: 40 cookies (I got 45, but let's say 40 to be safe)

Chocolate-Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

prep time: 2 hourcook time: 20 minstotal time: 2 hours and 20 mins

Since no one in my family likes gingerbread cookies (except me), I decided to create some cookies that look like them and have a little bit of spice to jazz them up. The flavor is reminiscent of Mexican chocolate, with the zip of cinnamon perking up sweet chocolate notes (I use just a little bit of cocoa to create more of a milk chocolate vibe than a dark chocolate flavor).

ingredients:

Cookies
  • 9 oz. whole-wheat pastry flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
Icing (This will make double of what you'll use to decorate the cookies, but you'll want extra to play with for coloring and playing around with.)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tsp. meringue powder (see note below)
  • 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 Tbsp. water
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Food coloring (optional)

instructions:

  1. To prepare cookies, combine flour, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt, stirring with a whisk.
  2. Place butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until creamy (about 2 minutes). Add oil; beat at medium speed until well combined. Add granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat until fluffy (about 1 1/2 minutes). Beat in egg. Add flour mixture; beat on low speed until just combined.
  3. Divide dough in half. Roll each half between sheets of plastic wrap to a thickness between 1/8 inch and 1/4 inch (dough will be soft). Place dough, still between plastic wrap, on a baking sheet, and place in freezer for 20 minutes or until firm.
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  5. Remove dough from freezer. Remove plastic wrap from top of 1 dough half. Working quickly, cut dough with 2- to 3-inch cutters of desired shapes. Arrange cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat procedure with remaining dough half, placing on another baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Reroll scraps and refreeze to firm up dough. Cut out more shapes until you have 40 to 45 cookies. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes or until firm and starting to slightly darken around the edges. Cool on baking sheets on a wire rack for 2 minutes. Transfer cookies directly to wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  6. To prepare icing, combine powdered sugar and meringue powder in a large bowl. Add 3 1/2 tablespoons water and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat with a mixer on low speed until just moistened (about 20 seconds); beat on high speed until thick, bright white, and smooth (about 5 minutes). Beat in additional water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, if needed, to reach desired consistency. Stir in food coloring (see notes below) if desired. Spread or pipe icing evenly over cookies. Let stand at room temperature until icing is completely set (about 1 to 2 hours). Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

NOTES:

Calories 96; Fat 5g (sat 2g); Protein 1g; Carb 13g; Fiber 1g; Sugars 7g (added sugars 7g); Sodium 19mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

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Another critical ingredient for these cookies is meringue powder, which helps the icing set up hard so that you can stack and package the cookies with no worries of destroying your beautiful decorations. You can find it in the baking section of craft stores.

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One of my favorite ingredients ever is whole-wheat pastry flour. I’ve touted it before, and I’ll do so here again! Its fine texture works beautifully in all types of baking recipes, and it allows me to make 100% whole-grain treats with great texture. Here’s the kind I use (the house brand from Whole Foods).

Now for the fun part, the decorations. Piping is easy and goes quickly. You can use a piping bag with a #1 or #2 tip (which is what I did), or use a zip-top plastic bag and cut a tiny hole in one corner to pipe from. My piping skills are not very good, but the cookies still look pretty great!

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For the trees, I mixed up some natural food coloring (India Tree brand—shown in the photo on the right) to create a deep green color. Yellow + blue = green. To create colored icing, I simply spoon some of the white icing into a small bowl or ramekin and mix in the color with a butter knife. I then use the knife to spread the icing onto each cookie. You can pipe the icing, too, but the knife method works really well for me.

I then gathered up round sprinkles, tiny nonpareils, and edible silver dragées for the designs. You’ll want to spread the green icing over the entire surface of the cookie and then apply your toppings while the icing is still wet. You can apply in either in a random pattern or—my favorite—with tweezers to create strings of lights. Whether you’re a white lights person or a colored lights person, you can make your tree cookies reflect your style.

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For the reindeer, I used brown gel food coloring (not natural food coloring, sorry) to create a lighter doe-like color for the deer. I felt that the natural chocolate color was too dark. I spread the brown-tinted icing over the entire surface of the deer, and then each deer got a collar of either small nonpareils or larger round sprinkles, a blue nonpareil for the eye, and a red round sprinkle for a Rudolph nose.

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Finally, for the stockings, I started off in a hilarious way. I had some gorgeous fluffy purple glitter that made amazingly beautiful cookies. But then I realized that this purple glitter was not edible—it had been placed in the wrong crafting box! So that stunk… I then proceeded with new stockings. First, I decorated the cuff with white icing that I topped, when still wet, with white sparkling sugar. Once that dried, I covered the rest of the stocking with white icing and topped with red or green sparkling sugar. For the others, I let the white icing dry completely and then brushed on copper and silver luster dust. (I have some eyeshadow brushes that came free with purchase that are perfect for this. No, I never used them with cosmetics. They are for food only!)

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You can find all of the decorating supplies at craft stores. They’re a great investment that you can use year after year (I’ve had that luster dust for maybe five years.)

My last bits of advice when you’re decorating Christmas cookies:

  1. If you want to decorate with your kids, you have to let them do their own thing. Let go of your own expectations and let them have fun. (If you want gorgeous cookies for teacher gifts, maybe decorate by yourself after the kiddos go to bed.)

  2. Allow yourself plenty of time to decorate. If this needs to come together in an hour, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

  3. Make sure you have plenty of space to allow the cookies to dry. Once decorated, I place them on either sheet pans or these large plastic platters I have and move them out of reach of my big dog. He has helped himself to food on the table when I’ve turned my back.

  4. Get creative and have fun!

Cranberry-Orange Bread with Salted Pecan Streusel

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Cranberry-orange bread always feels like a holiday treat just bursting with winter fruit flavor. It’s a lovely treat to make for yourself or to offer as a gift to teachers, friends, and family. My version is healthier than many you’ll find, made with whole-grain flour and less sugar. See below for a few tips and how-to photos.

Yield: 12 servings

Cranberry-Orange Bread with Salted Pecan Streusel

prep time: 15 minscook time: 50 minstotal time: 65 mins

I adore cranberry-orange bread, but it's often swimming in sugar and made with refined white flour. I worked on this healthier version and absolutely love it. It's moist (sorry, but that's the best word for it!), full of citrus flavor and intermittent pops of cranberry tartness, and crowned with the most delicious salted pecan streusel. Here's the thing, though (yep, there's a thing): I love that streusel so much that I wanted there to be plenty on top of the bread. It's a little heavy, so it sinks down into the batter a bit and prevents the bread from doming. I tried the bread with less streusel and just wasn't as happy with it. So sunken streusel it is!

ingredients:

Bread:
  • 8 oz. whole-wheat pastry flour (about 2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. grated orange zest (from 1 large navel orange)
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (from 1 large navel orange)
  • 1/3 cup whole buttermilk
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup chopped fresh or frozen, thawed cranberries (1 cup whole cranberries = about 1 cup chopped)
Streusel:
  • 1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans (no need to pre-toast; they'll toast on top of the bread as it bakes)
  • 3 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8 x 4–inch loaf pan with parchment paper (see tip below). 
  2. To prepare the bread, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk to combine.
  3. Combine granulated sugar, orange zest (it's easier to zest the orange while it's whole, before you cut it and squeeze out the juice), orange juice, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, and egg in a medium bowl; stir well with a whisk to combine. Add wet mixture to flour mixture; stir with a silicone spatula to combine. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan. 
  4. To prepare streusel, combine oats, pecans, brown sugar, butter, and salt; stir well to combine. Sprinkle evenly over batter.
  5. Bake at 350°F until bread springs back when pressed in center and a wooden pick comes out clean, about 50 - 55 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan (with parchment paper) and cool on a wire rack.
  6. For mini loaves (I used 3 [6 x 2 1/2–inch] paper baking molds), spoon about 1 cup batter into each of 3 molds. Divide streusel evenly over loaves. Bake at 350°F until bread springs back when pressed in center and a wooden pick comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool in paper molds. 

NOTES:

Calories 209; Fat 7g (sat 2g); Protein 3g; Carb 33g; Fiber 3g; Sugars 16g (added sugars 14g); Sodium 144mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

When prepping the loaf pan, line it with parchment paper to make removal much easier. Place the paper down on a surface, place the pan in the middle, and make diagonal cuts from each corner of the paper to the corner of the pan.

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This makes it easier to fit the paper into the pan, firmly into the corners.

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Next, I call for whole-wheat pastry flour here. It’s an ingredient I absolutely love and use all the time. It’s finer in texture than whole-wheat flour or white-wheat flour, making it ideal for baking projects. Here’s the kind I use:

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Last little tidbit. Please take note of my words above about the streusel. There’s a good bit of it.

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And that gives you excellent coverage over the batter:

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Trust me, you wouldn’t want any less! The bread is delicious just as it is. It’s just a little less poofy, that’s all.

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Herby Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

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Everyone needs a good recipe for great ranch dressing, right? This one is easy, fresh, and packed with flavor. It’s really good served very cold—either draped over crisp greens or as a dip for veggies. My current favorite way to have it is shown above: a simple iceberg (yes!) salad with sliced grape tomatoes and bacon. Simple can be so good.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 2 tablespoons)

Herby Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

prep time: 10 minscook time: total time: 10 mins

Confession: I like ranch dressing. Not the bottled stuff, which I think is pretty bland. No, I mean homemade buttermilk ranch. I like it loaded with fresh herbs and with a little bite from fresh garlic, which is what makes it so good. I also like it served very cold over equally cold crisp greens like romaine (when it's not being recalled), Little Gem lettuce, or iceberg lettuce, which I've recently rediscovered. The recipe here is for the dressing alone; the salad shown is just a serving suggestion. You might want to go ahead and double the recipe; it's a good thing to keep on hand.

ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke's; I'm Southern...)
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated on a Microplane

instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a medium bowl; whisk until well combined. I like to chill mine until very cold before serving, about an hour or so.

NOTES:

Calories 111; Fat 12g (sat 2g); Protein 1g; Carb 1g; Fiber 0g; Sugars 1g (added sugars 0g); Sodium 183mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

Kale Salad with Pears, Pomegranates, and Pickled Onions

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Every Thanksgiving table should include a big, fresh salad. With all the rich casseroles, gravy, and savory (and sometimes surprisingly sweet) sides, something fresh is a necessity. Whenever I bust up a big salad into the Turkey Day mix, I’m often met with jokes and gentle ribbing. But you know what? My salad always gets eaten. Every freaking leaf. This is a great one for Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving because it can easily accommodate dietary needs and restrictions: It’s vegan and gluten-free, and if someone has a nut allergy, you can easily omit the pecans.

Yield: 8 (serving size: about 1½ cups)

Kale Salad with Pears, Pomegranates, and Pickled Onions

prep time: 35 minscook time: 5 minstotal time: 40 mins

I have a real problem with lame salads, those that feel like an afterthought. Salads, after all, are a great opportunity to play with texture, flavor, and color, bringing all those elements into harmonious balance. This one does just that, combining earthy-chewy lacinato kale, sweet-juicy pears, toasty-crunchy pecans, and tart-crisp pickled onions. I happened upon a bag of petite Seckel pears at my local Publix store, which I think makes this salad feel a little special—but any sweet pear will work beautifully here. You don’t have to cut them the way I did (using a mandoline); you can just quarter, core, and thinly wedge or slice them. See below for tips and technique photos.

ingredients:

  • 1 cup mirin (sweet rice wine—see photo below)
  • ½ cup natural rice vinegar
  • 1 medium red onion, vertically sliced

  • 2 (8-oz.) bunches lacinato kale
  • 3 Seckel pears or 1½ Bartlett or Anjou pears, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup pomegranate arils (about ½ large pomegranate)
  • ½ cup pecan halves, toasted
  • 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. natural rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • ¾ tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated on a Microplane

instructions:

  1. Combine mirin and ½ cup vinegar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Add onion; return to a boil, and immediately remove from heat. Let stand 30 minutes or until cooled to room temperature. You can make the pickled onions a week ahead; refrigerate in an airtight container. 

  2. Meanwhile, remove stems from kale and discard. Tear leaves into pieces. Place kale in a large bowl; drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Massage oil into kale leaves until leaves slightly wilt. Add pears, pomegranate, and pecans to kale; toss gently to combine. Remove half of onion from mirin mixture with a slotted spoon; add to salad. (Reserve remaining onion for another use) 

  3. Combine remaining 5 tablespoons oil, 3 tablespoons vinegar, syrup, mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic in a jar; close with lid, and shake until emulsified. Drizzle over salad.

NOTES:

Calories 196; Fat 16g (sat 2g); Protein 3g; Carb 13g; Fiber 3g; Sugars 8g (added sugars 2g); Sodium 168mg
Created using The Recipes Generator

The first step for this salad is to make a batch of pickled onions. I have you make double what you need for the salad—because why not go ahead and use a whole onions?

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The leftover pickled onions will hold up well in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and you can use them on tacos, other salads, grain bowls, and more. My easy two-ingredient method relies on two products from the Asian foods aisle: mirin and rice vinegar. These guys:

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You can find rice vinegar at any supermarket and mirin at most (I got mine at Target). The mirin is seasoned with salt and sugar plus has a pleasant, light wine flavor—so it takes the place of wine, salt, and sugar. The rice vinegar is softer than many other vinegars, which could make the pickled onions sharp and wince-inducing.

I love lacinato kale for its bumpy texture and earthy and faintly sweet flavor. If you can’t find it, you can use regular curly kale—just know that it’s a little tougher. No matter which you use, do take a minute or two to massage the leaves with a little oil first, to help break down the fibers and tenderize the leaves.

As for the pears, as I mentioned above, I lucked into some gorgeous Seckel pears at the Publix down the road. They come in a bag, like this:

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And they’re smaller than most pears. See?

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Now for the pomegranates. Look, I know that the arils you can buy in the little cups are very convenient. I’ve used them myself on more than one occasion. But they just don’t taste as good as ones you pull fresh from the whole fruit. I learned a trick that makes that process a little easier. First, cut about 1/4-inch off the top of the fruit, like so:

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One you take the “lid” off, you can see where the paper-thin membranes are. It’s a little tricky to see in the photo above, but look for the spoke-like thin white membranes that grow out from the core. You want to score the outer skin of the pomegranate where those membranes run, from the top to the bottom of the fruit, like this:

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Once the skin is scored, you can pull apart the fruit. It will break along those “fault lines” like so—

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Now you can just gently prod those arils out without having to pick through all the pith and membrane. I swear it’s worth the effort (and there’s not much effort to it).

This salad will fill a big ol’ bowl (meaning it makes a lot). But I predict it will all get happily eaten, with thanksgiving.

Butternut, Caramelized Onion, and Blue Cheese Pizza

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 slices)

Butternut, Caramelized Onion, and Blue Cheese Pizza

This pizza is my love letter to fall. All the best seasonal flavors converge here: sweet butternut squash, woodsy herbs, toasty hazelnuts, and pungent blue cheese. A bed of silky caramelized onions serves as the "sauce," a delicious change of pace. The butternut ribbons are beautiful and—bonus benefit—cook quickly in a super-hot oven (no par-cooking required). Serve with an arugula or kale salad for a dynamite pairing.

prep time: 38 minscook time: 10 minstotal time: 48 mins

ingredients

  • 12 oz. whole-wheat pizza dough (I used dough from Whole Foods)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 cups vertically sliced yellow onions (about 1 lb., 2 medium onions)
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 3/8 tsp. kosher salt, divided
  • 8 oz. butternut squash, shaved into ribbons (about 3 cups ribbons; see tips below)
  • 2 oz. firm blue cheese, thinly sliced (I used Point Reyes)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh sage leaves
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • Freshly ground black pepper

instructions

  1. Let dough stand, covered, at room temperature to take the chill off.
  2. Place a pizza stone or heavy baking sheet in oven. Preheat oven to 500°F (leave pizza stone or baking sheet in oven as it heats).
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil; swirl to coat. Add onions; sauté 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low (I went closer to low than medium), and stir in garlic. Cook 20 minutes or until onions are silky, very tender, and caramelized; stir in a tablespoon of water every now and then if the onions start to stick or burn. Remove from heat, and stir in thyme and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
  4. Meanwhile, combine butternut ribbons, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt; toss gently to combine.
  5. Pat or roll dough into a 12-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper. Brush outside rim of dough with about 3/4 teaspoon oil. Top dough evenly with onions, leaving a 1-inch border. Arrange butternut ribbons over onions. 
  6. Lift dough, on parchment, and place parchment and dough on hot pizza stone. Bake pizza at 500°F for 10 minutes or until crust is browned and crisp and butternut is browned in places (broil for a minute or two if the top isn't browned to your liking). Remove pizza from oven; brush outside rim of crust with remaining 3/4 teaspoon oil. Nestle cheese into butternut ribbons (note: residual heat will soften and melt the cheese). Sprinkle pizza with hazelnuts, sage, and pepper.

calories

418

fat (grams)

18

sat. fat (grams)

4

carbs (grams)

46

protein (grams)

10

sugar (grams)

5

Added sugar (in grams)

0

Fiber (in grams)

6

Sodium (in mg)

717

Added sugar (in grams)

0

Fiber (in grams)

6

Sodium (in mg)

717
Created using The Recipes Generator

There you go—recipe card up top, so you don’t have to scroll through lots of photos and words to get to what you want most. This is my first blog post (!!), so please forgive any errors or oddities. I’m learning as I go…

This pizza is nothing short of a knockout. It’s beautiful, delicious, healthy, easier than it looks, and meatless. Just keep in mind that the pizza is your entree, not your entire meal—so serve it with a side salad or some roasted veggies. Here are some helpful tips as you’re making it:

First, make sure you get the pizza dough out of the fridge. Let it stand at room temperature as the oven heats and you do all the prep work. Trust me, this is a crucial step. Room-temp dough is much easier to work with than cold dough. That cold dough will snap back and fight you as you try to roll or stretch it out. But room-temp dough? It’s much more well behaved.

For the onions, I recommend standard yellow onions—not sweet onions, which (with the butternut) would take the pizza in a too-sweet direction. Besides, the standard guys gain a little sweetness through the caramelization process. I call to vertically slice them, which helps them hold their shape better. It basically looks like this:

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As for caramelizing those onions, I encourage you to exercise patience. Don’t try to rush the process by turning up the heat; you won’t get the silky texture you’re after. Listen as the onions cook; if you hear too much sizzle, they may be sticking or scorching—at which point you should stir in a tablespoon of water. This is what they should look like when they’re ready (this is before I stirred in the thyme and salt):

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Now for the squash. Do the prep for this as the onions are cooking. Since you’re aiming for long ribbons, choose a squash with a long neck; this will make creating long ribbons much easier. Here’s the one I used:

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I peeled the entire neck with a vegetable peeler, then cut it off near the bulb. I then cut the neck in half vertically, then into a few one-inch thick slabs. Then I ran the vegetable peeler over the slabs to create ribbons; I found it easiest to start at the farther edge and pull the peeler toward me. You’ll have leftover squash, which is perfect for cubing and roasting for a side dish or to puree for a soup.

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Once you toss your squash with a little oil and salt, it's time to assemble the pizza. Stretch the dough into a 12-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper. The paper allows you to lift the pizza, on the paper, and place everything (paper and all) on the hot pizza stone. You still get the crispy crust, and the whole process is much easier than trying to slide the dough from a pizza peel onto the hot stone. Once the dough is shaped, top with the onions.

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Now pile on the squash. It may seem like a lot, but it cooks down a good bit in the oven.

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Pop that guy in a 500°F oven for 10 or so minutes, then take it out and brush a little oil onto the outer rim of the crust; this adds sheen and flavor. Now top with cheese, sage, hazelnuts, and black pepper. (If you add the cheese before the pizza goes in the oven, it will turn into buttery goo; it’s delicious, but it just melts away to have a visual impact. The residual heath from the hot pizza will soften and slightly melt the cheese anyway.) That’s it! Enjoy!!

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