It’s November already…
I’m pretty sure we’ve already covered that autumn is my favorite time of year, and in my neck of the woods it has been a rather spectacular autumn. I got a whole month of fall weather this year; Rainy days, crisp sunny days, fall colors for days… It’s been glorious. But just the other day I was browsing Pinterest and a recipe for snowflake cookies popped up. And for some crazy reason my brain was consumed with the thought:
“I am ready for winter.”
I about slapped myself. But after more evaluation I realized it’s because I’ve had such a long, lovely autumn that I am indeed ready for the next season. The last 3 months of the year are the best. October is my favorite month ever, November has the best holiday ever, and December, oh December! Holiday music, baking, decorations, festivities, lights… So while it was a shocking thought, it kinda makes sense. I wouldn’t be opposed to snow (good thing cause it’s in my near future), November 1st marks the start of Christmas music for me (do NOT judge), and I may be the person who keeps her interior Christmas lights up all year… I am not ashamed.
The only 2 things I’m not looking forward to are gift shopping and commuting to work in the snow. But everything else? Bring it.
Speaking of November and its amazing holiday, cranberry sauce is a personal favorite. Sadly, all brands of canned cranberry sauce (jellied or whole) contain high fructose corn syrup. At least all of the brands I have available to me at my 4 local grocery stores do. Luckily I found this homemade recipe last year that is probably the greatest thing of my life. I had this cooking in a small crock pot while I made this salad recipe and my house smelled unbelievably good. Make it just for the smell. You won’t regret it.
Usually with the cooler weather comes the craving for warmer, heartier foods. On occasion though, I feel the need to break up the hot soups, roasted veggies, and pot pies with something on the chilled side. And I have been craving just such a thing this last week. I saw some interesting pasta salad recipes floating around Pinterest and decided to take my favorite summer raw veggie pasta salad concept to a different seasonal level. Who says you can’t roast veggies and toss them in a pasta salad?
Butternut squash and sweet potatoes (garnet yams, to be honest) are fall staples, so I started there. Roast ’em up and let them cool. I picked a few other veggies that I thought would go well with the squash and potato, and that would add some color to the salad. I noticed that I gravitate toward photos of salads made with multi-colored pasta so I picked up a box of tri-colored rotini.
I try to keep things really simple when it comes to salad dressings. I like the salad ingredients themselves to be the focal point of flavor and the dressing to be a subtle garnish. Oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper are really all you should need. And what is richer, or more decadent than balsamic vinegar? I have to buy this stuff in bulk because we use so much of it at my house. It goes well with so many things and adds just the right touch of flavor.
As with most of my veggie-generous recipes, you can substitute whatever vegetables you have. My PoTC-inspired moto is, “Recipes are more like guidelines than actual rules.” Switch things up, get creative, and make the recipe yours.
Currently drinking: Oakshire Brewing Overcast Espresso Stout
Autumn Veggie Pasta Salad
12 oz cubed butternut squash
2 red garnet yams, peeled and cubed
1 box tri-colored rotini, cooked per instructions
1 red bell peeper, diced
1-2 cups corn
1 medium zucchini, sliced and quartered
1-2 green onions, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
olive oil and/or avocado oil (I used both)
regular salt and pepper
2-3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, plus more to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Place cubed squash and potatoes on a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Lightly, but evenly coat with oil (I used a spray avocado oil). Season with regular salt, pepper, and oregano. Bake in the oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until veggies are tender to touch. Once roasted veggies are done, remove them from the oven and let cool.
- Combine the cooked pasta with the rest of the vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil and season with garlic salt, white pepper, and a little oregano. Can add more regular salt if more salt is needed.
- Toss cooled roasted veggies in balsamic vinegar and then add to the pasta salad.
- Add more balsamic or seasonings to taste as needed.
- Can be served immediate or left in the fridge, covered, to marinade flavors.