DELICATA SQUASH AND LIME BULGUR SALAD

delicata squash and lime tabbouleh-style salad - The First Mess
What is it about seasonal change that is so emotional?

This hunch seems especially true for fall, but especially pertinent in my little nook of Canada. Another 6-7 months of briskness is coming. The booties have been dusted off and wooly scarves have cozied around my neck on more than one occasion already. We seem to brace ourselves and turn into each other so readily. The community feels strong wherever cold winds sweep through and my dwelling spaces have been no exception.

I heard a rustle of slowly decaying leaves from the apple tree in the middle of our garden at dusk and I swear it was fraught with emotive… like, vibrational THINGS. You know?! The fallen fruits laying in the dampness, some rotting and sunk in, kind of threw me. I was taken aback by the whole scene. Strange beauty in the cool mud before dark.

Mark and I were in Montreal a couple weekends ago and passing by an old church in the morning hours, I could hear the choir of voices inside just slightly muffled by ages-old bricks and mortar, the congregation’s joy barely contained. I felt like my chest would explode, just walking on by.

I’ve been laughing harder too. So many things giving me that riot of hearty laughs where the sides of your eyes are all misty wet and crinkled from the inability to contain that big, smiling mouth. Just one little gesture or phrase from Mark and I’m senseless with that gasping-for-air-kind of laugh, face blindly pointed to the sky trying to catch a moment, a breath, only to fall into it again.

Needless to say I’m drinking this atmospheric goodness up fairly greedily. That lushness seems abundant all around. I’m gently savoring it in some ways; the slower sipping of morning coffee, lingering over a book or magazine in a warm spot of the house, craving anything that can possibly be roasted or caramelized… In other ways, I’m much more eager to get my fill with a sense of haste; spontaneous road trips, all kinds of indulgence, permitting myself some laziness on a whim. It’s all keeping me in the moment.

My appetite has been pretty strong through all of this, as per usual. I wanted to make something that would serve as a very complete side dish at dinner that could gracefully turn into a perfect lunch addition for a few days longer. Leftovers. I wanted some damn good leftovers to eliminate any  doubt around lunchtime for a bit. We had some gorgeous delicata squash forming in the garden, one of my favourites.

I started thinking about a sort-of tabbouleh salad with roasted squash and super sweet, sun-ripened tomatoes, barely clinging to the dried up vines at this point. Lots of herbs and citrus in the form of a whole lime vinaigrette is in the mix, an awesome technique I’m borrowing from Brooklyn Supper. You get the acidity of the juice and all the fragrance of the zest in a couple little blitzes of the blender. It’s the perfect accompaniment to sweet, roast-y squash, cracked wheat and a bounty of parsley and mint. This comes together so easily once you get the squash roasting, which is completely by design. I wanted to leave you with plenty of time to fill your heart up with the excitement of change and coziness :)


DELICATA SQUASH AND LIME BULGUR SALAD
Print the recipe here!
Vinaigrette recipe is from Brooklyn Supper
SERVES: 6-8
NOTES: Make sure you let the cooked bulgur cool down completely before tossing it with all of the other ingredients to avoid major grain-clumping. Feel free to use quinoa or millet for a very similar gluten-free option too. Don’t eat grains? Try some cauliflower pilaf technique. Also, I recognize that some limes might be more juicy or pith-y than others, so in light of this I have some suggestions for whole lime vinaigrette success/trouble shooting. First, zest the lime onto a cutting board, aiming to only grate off the green part (the white/pith is rather bitter). From here, cut it in half and squeeze the juice into your blender. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of the zest to start and go from there. You might want more if you like the fragrance/essential oils of the peel.

SALAD:
1 medium delicata squash, split in half lengthwise, seeds removed
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sea salt
black pepper
1 cup dry bulgur
5-6 roma-sized tomatoes, cut into small wedges
8 sprigs flat leaf parsley, leaves chopped roughly
8 sprigs mint, leaves chopped roughly

VINAIGRETTE:
1 lime, halved and chopped into smaller pieces (preferably a juicy one)
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 tbsp agave nectar
1/3 cup grapeseed (or olive) oil
1/3 cup water
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Slice the delicata halves crosswise into 1/2 inch thick half moons. Toss them with the 2 tbsp grapeseed oil, ground coriander, salt and pepper. Arrange on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes or until squash is tender and lightly browned. Remove and set aside to cool.

While squash is roasting, combine bulgur and 1.5 cups water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 7-10 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Add a splash of oil and stir it around at this point to prevent clumping.

Combine the chopped tomatoes, parsley, mint, roasted squash and cooked bulgur in a large bowl.

Make the vinaigrette: Combine the chopped lime, garlic clove, water, oil, salt and pepper in a blender pitcher. Blend on medium-high speed until lime is liquified and you have a creamy, homogenous mix. Taste for seasoning.

Pour vinaigrette over vegetables and bulgur. Stir to combine and add any salt or pepper if you like. Serve at room temperature or cold.

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