moroccan chickpea & delicata squash salad

yesterday was officially the first day of fall and my leisurely summer schedule abruptly collided with a somewhat hectic start to the new season. maybe it's not even all too hectic, but my ability to prioritize and my tolerance to stress seems to have slacked off over the summer. david finally went back to teaching this past week (after an eventful seattle public school teachers strike!) and even though i'm not the one going back to school, the change in season feels like a push to get my butt back into gear... nudging me to settle back into a consistent weekly routine, kick up a bit more work for myself, and accomplish the to-do list of things i had been ignoring all summer. 

yesterday, after my yoga practice and a new apprenticeship program i started last week with my yoga mentor, i spent an hour sipping a soy latte at the new little oddfellows cafe inside the elliot bay bookstore, flipping through cookbooks and taking notes. sometimes i'll look for a specific recipe, but usually i'll just jot down notes filled with inspirational flavor combinations. i tend to get sucked into the corner of the store with the mediterranean cookbooks... surprise, surprise. i came home inspired to make something using the fall squash but with a moroccan flare. i conjured up something hearty, nourishing, and full of flavor! 

moroccan marinated chickpeas & squash ~ serves 3-4
1 medium delicata squash
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 15oz can)
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, finely sliced
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2-3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
cayenne pepper, allepo or harissa chili, to taste
salt to taste (i used about 1/2 teaspoon) 

preheat oven to 400-degrees. slice delicata squash lengthwise and remove seeds and stingy flesh. cut into half-inch thick crescents and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil. spread squash out onto a baking sheet, seasoning with salt and harissa or aleppo chili flakes. roast for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through to brown both sides of the squash. let cool while preparing the marinated chickpeas. 

whisk together red wine vinegar, orange juice, the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil, cumin, cinnamon and a good amount of harissa (aleppo or cayenne pepper works great too!) strain and wash chickpeas and toss with vinaigrette. add finely diced red onion, herbs and golden raisins. once the squash has cooled, cut into smaller cubes and gently fold into the salad. let marinade for at least an hour or overnight! initially, there will be a lot of excess marinade - but this will get absorbed given enough time! if you don't want the mint to blacken, reserve to mix in before serving! serve over semolina cous cous or grain free cauliflower "cous cous" or mixed salad greens! 

sweet summer corn chowder

this season, david and i made several drives north across the border to climb in squamish, british columbia. although david has been visiting squamish for years, this has been my first season and already we've been up on four different occasions! with each visit the forest landscape and boulders become more and more familiar. we've established our favorite free camping spot along stawamus river and settled into little routines to make our camp life comfortable and efficient... this routine usually involves a whole lot of prep cooking on my part before we leave so that we have some nourishing foods to whip up on our camp stove instead of eating out in town for every meal. on our most recent trip, i packed a big batch of homemade corn chowder in our cooler that truly hit the spot after long days of climbing. nourishing, hearty and sufficiently warming on the cool late-august evenings. i loved this chowder creation so much that i remade it for my private clients the following week and a second batch to bring camping with us tomorrow in leavenworth! 

this vegan chowder gets it's creaminess from a touch of coconut cream... i promise it won't taste like coconut corn soup ... although that wouldn't be unpleasant at all. it's thickened by simmering the corn cobs in the broth to release the starches from the cobs. a portion of the soup is then briefly pureed to create a perfectly hearty and creamy texture. it might sound labor intensive, but it takes less than an hour to make a big batch of soup to last you for days! it also freezes exceptionally well! 

vegan corn chowder ~ serves 6+
1 medium yellow onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons garlic, diced or crushed
4 medium carrots
4 sticks celery 
3 small yukon gold potatoes (about 1 pound) 
6 ears sweet corn, or 3 cups frozen sweet corn 
3-4 cups stock of choice, or water
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
5.4oz can coconut cream 
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 bunch chives, to garnish 

dice or crush garlic and set to side. shuck corn, turn them on their sides and use a long wide knife to trim off the kernels. reserve 2 corn cobs for stock, kernels removed. thinly slice celery and dice onion, carrots and potatoes into small cubes the size of large peas. besides the carrots & celery, keep ingredients separate as they all have different cook times. 

once your veggies are prepped, heat olive oil in a large soup pot. saute onions over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. add celery, carrots, garlic, black pepper, thyme and salt to the pot. cover and let sweat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. then add potatoes, corn kernels and just enough stock or water to partially submerge veggies. nuzzle the corn cobs under the veggies so they are fully submerged. bring soup to a simmer, covered, and cook for 15 minutes until potatoes are tender but all the vegetables still hold their shape. do not overcook. 

remove the cobs and ladle 2 heaping cups of soup into a blender, along with the coconut cream and lemon juice. blend until smooth. return the portion back to the pot, stirring to combine. adjust thickness if needed by adding a bit more water or stock. serve each portion with a teaspoon of chopped chives.