Living the WELL Life

Ode to Autumn - by Christina Pirello

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fall is one of my favorite times of year.  The air is crisp and breezy, the foliage is a sight to see, the earthy tastes and warm dishes that come from the fruits of the season cannot be beat.  I've created a menu that brings out all the flavors of fall.  Your taste buds will be singing an Ode to Autumn.  

Sweet Corn and Butternut Squash Soup
Cannelini Beans with Wilted Bitter Greens
Pumpkin Gnocchi with Basil Oil
Baked Stuffed Apples

Sweet Corn and Butternut Squash Soup
2 each butternut squashed -- halved, seeds removed
1/2 cup light olive oil
1 pinch sea salt
7 cups soy milk
1 onion -- diced
2 cups fresh corn kernels
tablespoons mirin
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoons white miso
3 scallions -- thinly sliced on the diagonal

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly oil a shallow baking dish. Or oil the squash, covering the entire surface. Sprinkle the cut side lightly with salt, arrange in the baking dish cut side down. Cover loosely and bake until the squash is quite soft, about 45 minutes.

Scoop out the flesh from the squash and place in soup pot with soymilk. Season with salt, cover and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for ten minutes. Puree the soup if necessary with food processor or food mill. Return to the soup pot and add the onions, corn kernels and spices. Bring to a boil, covered over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until onions are tender, about ten minutes. Remove a small amount of the broth, using to dissolve the miso and stir back into the soup. Simmer, uncovered three to four minutes to activate the enzymes.  Serve with sliced scallions.

Cannelini Beans with Wilted Bitter Greens
1-inch piece kombu or 1 bay leaf
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled, left whole
1/2 cup dried cannellini beans, rinsed well, soaked for 1 hour
1 cup spring or filtered water
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, thin slices
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
generous pinch red pepper flakes
sea salt
small bunch broccoli rabe, rinsed well, cut into small pieces
3-4 lemon wedges
Place kombu or bay leaf in a small pot with garlic and drained beans. Add water and bring to a boil over medium heat, uncovered. Boil for about 5 minutes. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook beans until just tender, about 45 minutes. Drain away any remaining liquid and remove kombu/bay leaf and garlic.

Place a small amount of oil in a deep skillet with garlic and onion, over medium heat. When vegetables begin to sizzle, add red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in broccoli rabe, season lightly with salt and sauté until limp and deeply green, about 4 minutes. Turn off heat and gently stir in cooked beans until just combined. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with lemon wedges on the side.  Makes 3-5 servings.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Basil Oil
pasta dough:
1-2 cups semolina flour
1 cup cooked white rice, pureed until smooth
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup pureed cooked butternut squash or canned pumpkin

basil oil:
spring or filtered water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Pinch sea salt
6-8 leaves fresh basil, left whole
Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish

Make the pasta. Sift flour onto a dry work surface. Make a well in the center of flour and add rice, salt, oil and pureed squash. Mix gradually, kneading into a smooth, soft dough by drawing small amount of flour in from the edges as you knead. Add more flour if the dough seems too sticky or more water if it feels too dry--but in both cases, add small amounts very slowly so as not to jeopardize the quality of the dough. Continue kneading until dough is a soft, workable ball, about 10 minutes. Set aside. Makes about 1 pound of dough.

To make the gnocchi, flour a fork. Pinch off 1-inch pieces of dough and roll into balls between your fingers. Run the pasta ball on the fork to create ridges. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet that has been sprinkled with semolina. Repeat until you have made the desired amount of gnocchi. (The balance of the dough can be frozen.)

Bring a pot of water to the boil, with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook the gnocchi until just tender, about 2 minutes. The gnocchi will sink to the bottom of the pot. When it rises, it is done. Drain, but do not rinse.  While the pasta cooks, make the oil. Place all ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat and cook for 3-4 minutes to develop the flavors. Strain the oil and toss with cooked gnocchi. Garnish with fresh basil sprigs and serve immediately. 

Baked Stuffed Apples
6 large Golden delicious, red delicious or Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup Suzanne’s Specialties Maple Rice Nectar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch sea salt
1/2 cup Dixie Diners’ Club Apple Granola

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Peel the skin off the top quarter of each apple. Using a melon baller, scoop out the core and seeds, leaving the bottom of the apple intact. Stand apples in square baking dish.

In a skillet, lightly pan toast the pecan pieces over medium heat. Add to rice syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and granola. Mix well to combine. Spoon nut mixture into the opening of each apple, filling completely. Pour 1 cup water into the pan. Bake until the apples pierce easily with a skewer, 35-45 minutes.  Makes 6 servings.


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