Roasted Butternut Squash & Chorizo Salad

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WARNING:  Never start a blog when you’re sick, especially if you work with children.  Signs of recovery may disappear in a flash, only to end up as a two month long, miserable cold.  No cooking will be done unless it comes from a can or the freezer section, or if someone else does it for you.

I’m glad to finally be able to cook again!  It’s been a long month of soup, canned refried beans, supermarket prepared rotisserie chicken, and copious amounts of yogurt.  A cold can really take you out, especially when you work with children who are learning the art of covering their coughs and sneezes.  I wanted to get back into the kitchen by cooking one of my new favorite dishes.  It was one of those wonderful recipes that came together with random ingredients I tend to keep as staples!

One of those ingredients I keep around is Chorizo.  Chorizo is my favorite kind of sausage. As I type this, I can imagine my brother laughing and saying, “el respeto (respect), Veronica,” mimicking what my extremely old-fashioned father would say anytime he, my oldest brother, or I said anything borderline inappropriate.  To me, it brings childhood nostalgia of trips to the grocery store with my mom.  She would go to el carnicero, the butcher, to buy the chorizo that was in the refrigerator.  When I was little, I was convinced that the huge pile of chorizo was one, endless sausage casing spun into links that the butcher cut off as he sold them.  My mom would cook it very simply, folding it into scrambled eggs or beans.  The sweet and spicy aroma would fill the air, and take over the house for hours, not that I’m complaining.  It was one of my favorite things to eat along with piping hot tortillas.

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When I moved from Chicago to Seattle, one thing I learned right away is that Mexican ingredients and food are no where near as easy to find as they are in Chicago.  QFC didn’t carry it in their meat department the way most Chicago groceries did.  The closest I could get to good chorizo at the grocery store was a prepackaged Chorizo from Casique, which would crumble into tiny pieces in a huge pool of grease when I cooked it.  Fortunately, one day, while I was haphazardly walking through the throngs of tourists at Pike Place Market, I stumbled upon Uli’s sausage. *Cue the angels singing*  They had CHORIZO.  TWO KINDS.  I WAS SAVED!  I bought it, eager to see if it tasted, and cooked up, the way the kind I had as a child did.  IT DID!  Now I buy and use it regularly, including in the recipe today.

I love combinations of sweet and spicy, and this recipe is one of that lovely combination.  It is warm, spicy, sweet, and by adding rich and creamy goat cheese, extremely comforting.

Roasted Butternut Squash & Chorizo Salad

Ingredients

For the Butternut Squash & Chorizo Mixture

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  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground clove
  • a generous pinch of salt and pepper
  • 3 chorizo sausage links (about 3/4 lb)
  • 1/2 cup raw roasted, unsalted walnuts.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Parchment paper makes cleanup a breeze!
  2. Peel and cut the butternut squash into 1 1/2 inch cubes.  Having a very sharp knife pays off for this kind of task.  Butternut squash puts a good knife to the test.  Put them into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the honey and coconut oil to the butternut squash and toss to evenly distribute the ingredients.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, ground clove, the salt and pepper.
  5. Add the spices to the mixing bowl with the butternut squash and toss the ingredients again to evenly coat the butternut squash with the spices.

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  1. Place the butternut squash on the parchment paper lined baking sheet, making sure to spread it as a single layer.
  2. Roast for 40 minutes or until tender enough to pierce easily with a fork.
  3. When the butternut squash has about 20 minutes left to roast, begin to cook the chorizo and prepare the dressing (recipe follows).
  4. Remove the chorizo from the casing, and cook in a non-stick skillet over medium high heat, stirring often.
  5. Remove the chorizo from the skillet, draining as much fat as you can with a slotted spoon or spatula, but reserve that fat!  You’ll need it for the dressing.
  6. Remove the butternut squash from the oven once it has finished cooking and allow to cool slightly.

For the Dressing:

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  • 2 Tbsp fig butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 quick splash of apple cider vinegar
  • a pinch of salt and pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together until completely combined

To serve:

  1. Toss the butternut squash, chorizo, and walnuts together along with the dressing.
  2. Top with goat cheese
  3. ENJOY!

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I hope you enjoy this recipe!  Meanwhile, I’m just waiting for this cold season to be over!

Herb and Mustard Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Cauliflower Purée

I’ll admit it: vegetables are not my favorite part of the meal.  I don’t hate them, but they’re certainly not my favorite.  As a kid, most of the vegetables I ate came in a blend of green beans, corn, cubes of carrot, and lima beans in a bag from my freezer.  To say we didn’t start off on the right foot is an understatement.  Once I did move on from the freezer section veggies, I ate veggies in a plain, boring, steamed fashion.  Did I mention they were boring?  I found myself eating vegetables as a part of a meal just because they were the healthy part of it, chewing for long, discontented periods of time.  One of my least favorites:

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Although I did not have the greatest relationship with veggies, I wanted to know how I could make them better.  I grew up watching Julia Child and Jaques Pepin on PBS.  I marveled at how they could make veggies look so delicious (I mean, look at how much BUTTER).  I couldn’t wait to start cooking for myself.

I’m happy to announce that ever since I have started cooking for myself when I was 19, vegetables and I are on amicable terms.  So much in fact, that I feel as though a meal is incomplete without some form of vegetable as a component, just like in this meal: a delicious herb and mustard rubbed pork tenderloin on top of a rich cauliflower purée.  The juices from the tenderloin drip wonderfully down into the purée to add even more flavor.

Herb and Mustard Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Ingredients:

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of mustard (I used Kozlik’s Amazing Maple mustard for some balancing sweetness)
  • salt to taste

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Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees
  2. Place a cast iron skillet on medium high heat with a splash of olive oil.  Let the pan and the oil get hot.
  3. While you wait for the skillet to heat up, pat the pork tenderloin dry.
  4. Combine all your spices and mix into the mustard, creating a paste to rub evenly onto the tenderloin.
  5. When the skillet is hot, place the tenderloin inside to sear, 5 minutes on each side.
  6. Once seared, put into the oven to finish cooking, for 20 minutes.
  7. After it is done, let the meat sit on a board for at least 10 minutes to keep the tenderloin moist and juicy (this is IMPORTANT, please don’t skip this step, no matter how tempting.  TRUST ME).

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Cauliflower Purée

The secret ingredient for this delicious dish is mayo!  I use an olive oil based mayo to let the cauliflower retain some of it’s healthiness.

Ingredients:

  1. 1 large head of cauliflower
  2. 4 cloves of garlic
  3. 1 teaspoon of butter
  4. 1/2 cup chicken stock
  5. 2 heaping tablespoons of olive oil mayonnaise
  6. salt and pepper to taste

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Directions:

  1. Place a sauté pan on medium heat.
  2. Melt the butter and swirl it around to coat the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add cauliflower and garlic.  Cook until both are just browned.
  4. Add the chicken stock and cover the pot.  Cook with the lid on until the cauliflower is tender enough to easily pierce with a fork, about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove the lid carefully and add all the mayo, salt, and pepper.
  6. Use a hand blender to purée the cauliflower to your desired consistency.

If you want to get them served at the same time, make sure you start with the tenderloin.  Once it is seared and placed in the oven, start working on the cauliflower.  It will give you enough time to finish the purée as the meat is resting so that the cauliflower can be freshly made and hot once you’re ready to serve.  To serve, put a layer of the cauliflower purée, topped with a few slices of the tenderloin.  Use any juices from the tenderloin that accumulated on the board to pour over the tenderloin and purée.

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ENJOY!