It's all easy....until it's not. While this can apply to any area of life, lately, for me, it's applied to my life in the kitchen. I touched on it briefly before, my struggle to cook for myself, for my husband, for fun, now that said fun has turned into a part of my job. People always say to find what you love and make that your career, but what people often leave out, is, like any good love story, there's always ups and downs. Just because you love something doesn't mean things won't get difficult or boring or dull at times.
It's in one of those difficult times that I've found myself lately. Take out sounds like a more appealing dinner option as does just taking a spoon to a pint of ice cream (What??! It's got dairy in it, so it's basically like having a glass of milk!). Coming up with recipes that are relevant and easy but cute and quick and vegan-dairy-free-nut-free-meat-free-stirred-by-hand-for-3-hours-made-in-a-kitchen-in-a-hut-on-top-of-a-mountain-by-someone-using-only-a-ceramic-bowl-sprinkled-with-wheat-berries-from-the-hills-of-Switzerland-blah-blah-blah-I'm-just-making-shish-up is getting harder and harder. Like everyone and their mom has made every possible pumpkin spice everything at this point in time. You name it, there's a pumpkin spice version of it somewhere out there. And yet, everyone wants more pumpkin spice things. Do you even know how hard that makes my job?!
While I was struggling to come up with this particular recipe post, a thought came into my head. Keep it simple. Hmmm. Food for thought, a thought for food??! Now, I've always preferred things to be simple, in food, in style, in life. Yet, thanks to a culture filled with food porn and dishes being created just so people can "get the shot" (not actually eat them, because, like who actually would order something to eat, weird...), the pressure to create some wow-factor dish is higher than ever. In the midst of all that, simple food has gotten lost. But not today, my friends, not today. I'm bringing simple back, because let's be real, whether it's me creating food for my job or you cooking dinner for your family, simple, not fancy, is what gets the job done (quite literally for me). Simple is fresh, simple is easy, simple is healthy, simple is tasty. Simple lets true flavors shine in a manner that isn't complex or stuffy or smothered in 20 cheeses (although I do love at least 20 kinds of cheese). Simple is kind to our schedules, our lack of sleep, our inability to find any more time in our already-packed days. Simply put, we all need simple in our lives.
It's with that in mind that this simple recipe was born (ironic that it took me a whole long complicated post to tell you something so simple). A favorite fall vegetable merely roasted and topped with a few things I had on hand (and I bet you do, too). The resulting dish, roasted butternut squash with feta, pistachios and cranberries, is nothing complicated, nor is it filled with special ingredients. However, it's warm and comforting and full of the flavors of fall, and though it may be simple enough for a weeknight meal, the tastes remind you that simple is anything but.
ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH WITH FETA
1 medium butternut squash
1/2-3/4 teaspoon herbs de provence
Salt (I like using Maldon sea salt flakes)
1/3 cup feta cheese
2 tablespoons cranberries (can use dried cherries or chopped dates instead)
2 tablespoons pistachios (can be replaced with another nut such as pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, etc or even roasted pumpkin seeds)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Peel, remove seeds and cut the butternut squash into cubes. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive, sprinkle with herbs de provence and season with salt. Bake for 20 minutes, stir, then continue baking for 5-10 more minutes, or until you can easily pierce the squash with a knife.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with additional oil and salt (if desired) as well as the feta cheese, cranberries and pistachios. Serve immediately as a side dish, or on top of a bed of greens as a lunch or lighter main dish.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
To make this recipe vegan, simply omit the feta cheese. If you would like a replacement option, try drizzling a tablespoon or two of tahini on instead.
For something extra fancy, try using butternut squash seed oil in place of the olive oil.