Around this time of year I can’t help but think of my fictional hero, Linus van Pelt from the Peanuts. First of all, he prides comfort over all things, so much so that he carries his favorite blanket everywhere he goes. While I don’t carry round a blanket, I’m fully believe in the comforting powers of a good scarf. Second, he is full of sage advice despite being no more than, what, 6 or 7 years of age? My favorite saying of his is “never jump into a pile of leaves with a wet sucker.” While Linus means this literally, I like to consider his words more metaphorically and apply them to real world situations, including, but not limited to, jumping into real piles of leaves.
Perhaps the thing I admire most about him is his imagination and the matter-of-factly way he talks about his beliefs, however strange they may seem to others. And I understand and agree with his decision to never discuss three things with people – those being religion, politics, and The Great Pumpkin – but love how he will still share his philosophy on autumnal spirits with anyone who asks. After all, the sincerest pumpkin patch is the best pumpkin patch.
I think we could all learn a lesson or two from Linus. Imagine more, talk less, be sincere. Oh, and always be comfortable. This year, I’m trying to do just that. This weekend we are traveling for a wedding with a rehearsal dinner scheduled for Halloween night. To keep things festive, but comfortable, we are dressing up as Lumberjack-o’-lanterns (my husband’s brilliant idea) complete with Buffalo flannel and knit stocking hats. I think The Great Pumpkin will appreciate our wit.
Since Linus tends to the pumpkin patch instead of traipsing around the neighborhood begging for candy, I feel like he might be the kind of kid that is partial to more grown-up foods like kale and squash. So with an all-night pumpkin patch stake out in mind, I thought some proper fuel would prove more beneficial than a sugar high. If Linus had packed himself a container of this kid-friendly Roasted Butternut Squash-o’-Lantern and Kale Salad he would have not only delighted the sincerity-seeking Great Pumpkin, but also would have been able to avoid that terrible meltdown with the candy-crazed Sally. There’s always next year.
I think I’d trade my bucket of candy for a box of fresh apple cider donuts any day. Linus would probably do the same.
Carving little jack-o’-lantern faces into butternut squash rounds might seem tedious, but just think how sincere and respectful you’ll look to The Great Pumpkin.
Butternut Squash-O’-Lantern + Kale Salad
small butternut squash, peeled and cut into rounds (about 1/4 inch thick)
salt and pepper
1 bunch kale, washed, dried, and shredded
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
4-6 tablespoons goat cheese
fresh sage leaves
dressing of choice ( I like a homemade mix of olive oil, a dash of vinegar, a dollop of dijon, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Shake together in a Mason jar)
1. Set oven to 400 degrees and line a small pan with a piece of parchment paper.
2. Using a small paring knife, cut jack-o’-lantern faces into the squash rounds. Spread in a single layer on the pan, lightly brush each round with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until just fork tender.
3. In a small skillet, heat a tablespoon or two of oil over medium high heat. Add several sage leaves and fry for a few seconds on each side. Remove leaves and drain on a paper towel. Set aside.
4.In a medium-sized bowl, toss together the kale, pomegranate seeds, goat cheese, and desired amount of dressing.
5. On small plates or bowls, place a portion of salad, top with a single squash-o’-lantern round, and sprinkle with crumbled fried sage. Serve immediately.
Happy almost Halloween, y’all.