For most of us this holiday season is different than any other we’ve experienced in our lifetime. Many people will be alone, and other families will be a tight knit cocoon. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat yourself to a delectable meal.
Here are some of my favorite foods to include in your holiday feast and/or during the cold months of winter.
Kale Slab Pie (adapted from a recipe by Arthi Subramaniam) serves 12, but you can divide this in half and freeze a portion.
- 3 bunches of kale—tear the leaves off the stems, or 2 pounds of Swiss chard
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1 bunch scallion, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground pepper to taste (divided)
- 3 cups water
- 2 cups coarsely ground cornmeal (polenta style)
- 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds for garnish
- Blanch kale leaves in salted boiled water for about 4 minutes. Transfer wilted greens to a bowl of cold water. Drain and squeeze out moisture. Chop and set aside.
- Heat 4 Tbs of olive oil over medium heat in a skillet, add onion. Cook, stirring until tender, about 8 minutes.
- Add scallions and cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in kale, dill and mint. Add red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste, and combine well. (I don’t add salt because I think there’s another salt in the cheese.) Remove from heat and let kale mixture cool.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13-by-9pinch rectangular pan with remaining oil (1 Tbs plus 1 tsp.)
- In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Gently and slowly add polenta and 1-2 tsp. of salt. Stir continuously so it doesn’t lump until thick. Spread in the pan, like a crust.
- Add feta and mozzarella cheese to kale mixture; lightly combine well. Spread evenly over the polenta crust. Cover the dish with foil, loosely, and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes, until top is slightly brown. Remove from oven and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Garnish with the pomegranate seeds. Allow the slab pie to “rest” for about 30 minutes before serving.
Coconut Curry with Vegetables serves 4
- Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring until softened, about 2 minutes.
- Puree coconut milk and ginger until very smooth.
- Add coconut milk mixture to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until sauce has thickened, 7-10 minutes. Add broccoli and carrots or squash about 1/2 way through cooking time.
- Add garbanzo beans and cook for a few minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat a little coconut oil in a small skillet, add cashews and cook, stirring until fragrant and lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Immediately transfer to a small bowl.
- Fold spinach into the curry mixture and cook about 1 minute until wilted. Divide among 4 bowls. Top with cilantro and cashews. Serve with rice or quinoa.
Roasted Butternut Squash with Lentils and Feta (by Nik Sharm from the New York Times) serves 2-4.
- Ingredients for the salad
- 1/2 cup uncooked black or green lentils (Trader Joe’s has great pre-cooked lentils)
- 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- Kosher salt
- 1 1 pound butternut squash cut into thin slices and roasted.
- 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta or goat or sheep’s milk cheese
- 4 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 2 Tbs roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
- For the Dressing
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
- 2 Tbs pomegranate molasses (substitute with cranberry juice, balsamic vinegar, lemon or lime juice)
- 1 Tbs honey
- 1/2 ground cumin, toasted
- 1/4 tsp ground cayenne
- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pick any debris from the lentils and rinse under running water. transfer them to a medium saucepan, then add the cinnamon, garlic and 1 tsp salt.
- Add enough water to cover everything by 1 inch. Bring the water to a rolling boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to low and let simmer until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. Drain the lentils, discard the cinnamon and garlic. Transfer the lentils to a large bowl.
- While the lentils cook, prepare the squash: trim and discard the top and bottom ends of the squash. Peel the squash, halve it lengthwise, and remove and discard the strings and seeds. Slice the squash crosswise 1/4 inch thick and place the pieces on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 Tbs olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast the squash until completely tender, slightly caramelized and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Once cook, add to the lentils.
- While the squash cooks, prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, honey, cumin, cayenne and black pepper. Taste and season to taste with salt.
Best Pumpkin Muffins
- 1 cup almond meal
- 3/4 cup whole wheat flour or unbleached organic flour
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- 15 ounces pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/3 cup raisins (optional)
- 1/3 cup walnuts (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place paper liners into the muffin tin.
- Measure out the flour, sugar, b aking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
- In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, coconut oil and vanilla extract.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together. Don’t over mix. Stir until everything is incorporated into the batter.
- Scoop the batter into the muffin wells until nearly full.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.
Enjoy your holidays safely. Please don’t gather in groups. Be well, stay well, enjoy peace.
Barbra Cohn cared for her husband Morris for 10 years. He passed away from younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2010. Afterward, she was compelled to write “Calmer Waters: The Caregiver’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s & Dementia”–winner of the 2018 Book Excellence Award in self-help– in order to help other caregivers feel healthier and happier, have more energy, sleep better, feel more confident, deal with feelings of guilt and grief, and to ultimately experience inner peace. “Calmer Waters” is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Boulder Book Store, Tattered Cover Book Store, Indie Bound.org, and online at Target and Walmart, and many other fine independent bookstores, as well as public libraries.