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Raw Butternut Squash Salad ♥

Today's salad recipe: It's one thing to eat raw tomatoes and cucumbers and zucchini. But winter squash? When grated small, winter squash is surprisingly tender. Pair it with a little fresh ginger and add some dried fruit for sweetness. This is a salad that will delight the eyes and the tastebuds! A small serving is "low carb" and even a larger serving adds up to only 1 Weight Watchers point (old points) or 2 Weight Watchers points (PointsPlus).
As sweet as vegetables can turn once they're cooked, especially when they're roasted slowly in a hot oven, every once in awhile, "raw" vegetables can really hit the spot.

I first made this salad last fall -- on the very day the recipe was published in the New York Times. I made no notes, I wrote no post, mostly because mid-November didn't strike me as the "right time" for a raw winter squash salad. But I did take a pretty picture and it kept popping up when perusing the photo files for the sco…

Beet Salad with Sumac, Yogurt & Pita ♥

A quick beet salad turned appetizer when served with a garlicky yogurt sauce and fresh pita bread. For Weight Watchers, just three points (PointsPlus) or two points (Old Points).
So I set off to find another delicious way to use the sumac that makes a Fattoush (Traditional Middle Eastern Salad) so delicious. You see, I really want you to seek some out and the fact that I just might be a tiny bit smitten to sumac's earthy sourness, well, that might not be enough so, well, will another temptation help? :-)

But what I accidentally happened onto was another contribution to a meze (also spelled mezze and pronounced [MEZ-ay]). It's a happy style of casual eating, a few dishes, full of flavor and texture and -- let's be truthful here -- lots of garlic. Just one meze-style dish we might call an 'appetizer' but with a handful of different dishes, that would be a meal. It's easy to imagine sitting cross-legged on Turkish rugs eating this stuff but in my world, the kitc…

Butternut Squash Soup with Mango & Toasted Coconut ♥

Today's soup recipe: A smooth almost custard-like soup, served chilled on warm days or warm on chilly days.
But first, it's "back to school" for a quick lesson about vegetables, specifically 'squash'. What's the difference between 'summer squash' and 'winter squash'?

Is it that one grows in summer and one grows in winter? Nope.
Is it that one's eaten in summer and one's eaten in winter? Nope, at least not in today's global food distribution system that delivers year-round availability of many of our staple fruits and vegetables.

This book you can read by its cover, for the difference between summer squash and winter squash is up-front and visible, right in the skins.

Summer squash have tender, edible skins. Think zucchini (called 'courgette' in many parts of the world) and yellow squash.
Winter squash have tough, inedible skins. Think butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash and even pumpkin.

Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas ♥

A vegetarian main dish salad -- or a side salad -- with a double-dose of protein, one from quinoa, another from chickpeas. This is a classic "concept recipe" -- and seasonal too. Here I've added late-summer vegetables but it's easy to imagine spring and summer versions too. Very filling and satisfying, even a half cup at a time.
It's a lesson an attentive cook learns early: apply heat to food to draw out flavor, to reveal an inner character. We toast nuts to make them nuttier, we toast bread for its warmth and crispy edges. We roast tomatoes and squash to not only cook but sweeten. We brown butter to darken its character and put a little burn on bones to make stock. So what would happen if I toasted the quinoa first, would it make a difference?

Side by side, I cooked red quinoa in salted water in one pot and toasted regular quinoa to a toasty brown before adding water to cook in another. Did it make a difference? Taste-wise, not a smidgin.

Chilled Zucchini Soup Shooters ♥

Here's a soup that will satisfy as summer winds toward autumn, made with little more than zucchini charmed with a touch of curry and served cold. It tastes much richer than it is, for the recipe is low carb and for Weight Watchers, either 1 or 2 points. Enjoy!
REVIEWS
"... loved it warm ... it's creamy without using cream or much fat ... " ~ Anonymous
"Absolutely outstanding! ... SO GOOD!" ~ Anne I
If I were the "document everything" sort, I could impress you by naming exactly how many recipes there are here on A Veggie Venture. But I'm not that sort. Sure, I could figure it out, it wouldn't even take that long. Maybe some day I will. But it seems beside the point somehow -- for there's no disputing that A Veggie Venture has a lot, a LOT of vegetable recipes whether it's a 1000 or 1200 or 1400. How many vegetable recipes are here? A lot. That's all you (and I) really need to know.

During the first year, I cooked a new vegetab…

Tomato Smoothie ♥

A summer treat, a smoothie made with the fruit of a sweet, perfectly ripe summer tomato (we do remember that tomatoes are technically fruit, yes?) contrasting the tang of cold buttermilk.
Ha! So is it true? I have the idea that all it takes are the words "tomato smoothie" and in an instant, everyone who reads them will be hankering one and know exactly how to make one too. Well just in case I'm wrong about that second point, here's the savory smoothie that I've been playing with.

And honestly, I started to call this recipe "Chilled Tomato Soup with Buttermilk" but with that name, well, doesn't it sound like it takes some, you know, effort? In contrast, a smoothie is on-the-spot, on-demand food, needing just the inspiration and a few minutes to toss into the blender and toss it down the throat.

So a "smoothie" it is. Serve it in glasses with straws or in bowls with spoons. It's still a smoothie.

Because Life Is Fragile

Life is fragile, life is precious, life is precarious. We all know this, we all experience it, we all, too often, live this. And yet, and yet. Some times life's fragility strikes close to home -- even when it really isn't.
For me, the life lesson hit twice this week, first when my friend Janet buried her granddaughter in a casket just twenty-four -- aiii, twenty-four -- inches long. And then again, with the sudden and unexpected death of a young husband and father, "Mikey" as wife and food blogger Jennifer Perillo of In Jennie's Kitchen called him.

Those of you who follow food bloggers will see lots of peanut butter pies appearing today. That's because Jennie invited us to make pies in her husband's memory. You see, she'd been meaning to make him his favorite pie, "Tomorrow", she'd think, "Or on the weekend." But she never got to it and suddenly, it was too late.

And so today I invite you too to make a peanut butter pie, pe…