Isn’t it funny how your views on age change as you get older?
We were heading to Cornwall this weekend to celebrate my Dad’s 60th birthday. I remember when my Grandparents were in their 60s and I thought they were old. Now that it’s my dad that’s 60, and both his parents are still alive and well, it doesn’t seem as old anymore. I can’t even picture turning 60 and still having my parents around. He’s lucky, my Dad. I can only hope we’ll be that fortunate. Unless of course he’s crotchety, as we suspect he might be. But that’s the fun of getting older, isn’t it? You get to do and say whatever you damn well feel like without consequence. Man, I can’t wait.
I was asked to bring a salad to the celebration that would feed everyone, including my Nana with Celiacs disease, which in short is an intolerance to gluten. My first response to this request is usually to panic. I start thinking about all the things she can’t eat, rather than focusing on the things she can eat, which is still quite a bit. I find my usual reaction to dietary restrictions is usually to panic first. Which is funny since most restrictions are pretty easily worked around. Unless you’re one of those people who can’t have gluten, dairy, meat etc, etc. Then I’d have to ask you to eat before you come over. I’m kidding. Sort of.
Some of the acceptable staples in a Gluten-Free diet include: rice (including flour/bran), quinoa, millet, flours from nuts/beans/seeds, and chickpeas. It’s really not the worst thing in the world. If nothing else, it forces you to be a more concious eater, which we could all benefit from immensely. If you don’t want to buy the expensive gluten free dressings, vinagrettes, sauces etc, then take the extra 5 minutes and learn how to make them at home on your own. That way you know exactly what is in them. The same thing could be said for non-gluten free items, as well. Knowing whats in your food is important and you should be paying attention as often as you can.
After taking a quick peek through Gluten Free Girl’s archive, I decided on a nutty salad based around her Wild Rice Salad recipe. She combines wild rice, chanterelles, sour dried cherries, and toasted cashews. I bet your mouth is watering after hearing that line up isn’t it? The dried cherries were enough to get me stuggling not to drool all over my keyboard. I opted out of the chanterelles since I’ve been on a bit of a mushroom kick lately and needed a break. I also decided to add some feta for a bit of a salty kick. It played perfectly well with the cherries and cashews, while the wild rice pulled it all together for the perfect crunchy, chewy, sweet, salty, nutty bite. It got the seal of approval by my Nana and the rest of the clan, as well as Mr GL, who even enjoyed a small serving.
I had the leftovers for lunch yesterday and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it both cold and hot. I usually have a strong preferance one way or the other, but this was just as lovely cold as it was warm. This would make a perfect pairing with poultry or a vegetarian main course, as well as on it’s own with a poached egg or some fried tofu.
I should also make quick mention of how easy this salad is. With no dressing to worry about, the hardest part is waiting for the rice the cook. I don’t know that I’d even call it a recipe, just a list of ingredients and some suggested amounts. Use your imagination and make it your own by adding greens, herbs, roasted veggies or dressing of your choice. I had bought some tarragon to add in at the end for some fresh flavour and colour, but forgot to add it after all. My brain is kinda doughy these days. Forgive me, will you?
Wild Rice Salad
based on Gluten Free Girl recipe.
You might have a hard time finding cherries at your grocery store, but most bulk-stores or health-food stores will carry them. Substitute dried cranberries in a pinch.
If you feel inclined to add a dressing, a light lemon vinaigrette might be a good option.
3-4 cups cooked wild rice, cooked according to package instructions
1 cup toasted cashews
1 cup dried cherries, rough chopped
1 cup feta, cut into small cubes
small red onion, diced fine (optional)
1/2 cup herb of choice, tarragon was my choice (optional)
Are you ready for this?
Toss everything together.
Get yourself a fork or spoon.
Scoop up salad.
You can also go ahead and wipe your brow. I know how much you must be sweating after all that hard work.
Why don’t you get yourself a glass of wine or sparkling water, and have a seat.
You’ll never guess what I have for you today. Not if your life depended on it. It’s just so unique to The Gouda Life.
ITS A SQUASH RECIPE. Can you even believe it? I hardly ever talk about squash. I don’t even like squash. I have no problem walking past the squash display. Even if the colour of their flesh reminds me of closing my eyes and staring at the sun on a warm day. I don’t even look. Complete and utter disregard, guys. COMPLETE.
But hold on. Before you go and leave me here, sitting alone with my posse of gourds, please know that this is more than just a recipe for squash. It’s as much a feta recipe, a spinach recipe and a muffin recipe as it is a squash recipe. So get over it already, ok? I’m already planning my next 15 squash recipes. Just for you!
This was based on Heidi Swanson’s Pumpkin & Feta muffin recipe from 101cookbooks. Only, it’s November 2nd. Two days after Halloween. The pumpkins weren’t nearly as plentiful as I imagined they would be. Didn’t the people of Ottawa know I would be looking for pumpkins today? The nerve.
Whole Wheat Spinach Squash and Feta Muffins
Whole wheat is not 100% necessary. If you don’t use it, reduce the milk quantity to 3/4 cup.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups pumpkin or butternut squash, 1/2-inch cubes
salt and pepper to taste
1 large handful of baby spinach, chopped
3 tablespoons sunflower seeds kernels or pine nuts
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup cubed feta
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
4 teaspoons aluminum free baking powder
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
Preheat the oven to 400.
Toss the cubed squash/pumpkin with the olive oil and a pinch or two of salt and turn onto a baking sheet. Bake until cook through evenly. About 15 minutes.
Toss 2/3 of the squash with the spinach, sunflower seeds, Parmesan, mustard and 2/3 of the cubed feta. Mix lightly just to combine.
In a seperate bowl, whisk the milk and eggs. Add to the spinach and squash mixture and mix gently until combined. Sift the flour and baking powder over top and mix again until combined. Do not over mix or you’ll end up with a tough muffin. Nobody likes a tough muffin!
Fill your muffin tins, oiled or lined with muffin cups, 2/3 full. Sprinkle muffins with remaining feta and squash.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until tops of muffins are golden brown.
If you’re feeling wild, and you know how wild I am, have one of these for breakfast. and then for lunch.
And then tomorrow, we’ll meet here again and I’ll tell you all about another life altering squash recipe.