It’s the tail end of my first semester of graduate school. In hindsight, it should have occurred to me that this would coincide with the end-of-year fundraising push at work. I have a lot to accomplish over the next eleven days and very few unscheduled hours during which to accomplish it all. My dining table has been converted into a staging ground for my research papers. My sink is full of dirty dishes from the snacks that I’ve been meting out as rewards. Actual meals have fallen by the wayside, primarily because cooking would just be another form of procrastination.
Tonight for dinner, I reverted to two of my favorite snacks. The first is a graham cracker with crunchy peanut butter and raw honey. (Sometimes I substitute raisins for the honey, but I am out of raisins owing to an unfortunate pantry moth situation.) I chased this with half of an avocado filled with half a tablespoon of very good quality aged balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with fleur de sel. These two snacks provide solid nutrition and, when paired with a glass of Spanish Garnacha and a streaming episode of 30 Rock, will hopefully ward off that dream about showing up to your last class with an incomplete research paper and no pants.
The aforementioned Progressive Party left me feeling a little worse for the wear. It was Sunday and I had a mountain of reading for the next night’s class. I needed something quick and healthy that did not require venturing outdoors.
- 1 Kabocha (or other sweet winter) squash
- 1 tablespoon regular olive oil
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400. Peel and seed the squash (reserving seeds) and chop into 1/2-inch cubes. Toss squash cubes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Pour into roasting pan and pop into oven. Toss rinsed seeds in same bowl along with cayenne and cinnamon. Pour into a small pan, cover loosely with foil, and pop in oven. Roast stirring occasionally until squash is cooked through and browning at the edges. Squash seeds should be toasted and/or have started to pop (hence the aluminum foil).
- 2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons honey vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 head red leaf lettuce
- 2 small apples, chopped
Whisk the first four ingredients together, adding a little more vinegar or some honey as you see fit. Toss the lettuce with the squash, squash seeds, apples and dressing. If you want to be fancy about it, you can reserve some of the seeds to throw on top.
I made a similar version of this with baby winter greens and butternut squash for a dinner party a couple of weeks later. This time, I included half of a thinly-sliced red onion, which I left to marinate in the dressing until just before serving. It was a big hit.