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Two simple satisfying salads

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Garden of Eating

(Read caption) Delicata squash has a rich, nutty flavor, which pairs nicely with salty, creamy tortellini.

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Roasted delicata squash and tortellini salad with cranberries, greens, and pepitas

After I discovered delicata squash a few years ago, it quickly gained "most favored squash" status in my kitchen. In addition to their divine flavor, one of the nice things about delicatas is that you do not have to peel them - just remove the seeds and cut them up - no need to remove the skin.

The lovely, rich, sweet, slightly nutty flavor of the delicata squash is enhanced by roasting and pairs nicely with the salty, creamy tortellini and the grated parmesan cheese. The greens add a light, fresh note (I only had baby spinach on hand but I prefer arugula as it gives the salad a nice peppery bite), the pepitas add a great, smokey crunch and the dried cranberries offer some tart, sweet notes.

It's hard to stop eating this salad. We made this for lunch today and my husband and I both had to try several times before we were able to finally lay our forks down for good...

Serves 3-4

2 delicata squash, halved, seeded and cut into 1 inch chunks

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

1 package fresh or frozen cheese tortellini

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4 cups arugula or baby spinach, washed and dried

1/3 cup roasted pepitas

1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

handful fresh parsley and thyme, rinsed, dried and chopped

sea salt and black pepper

olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the squash cubes with the garlic, a sprinkling of sea salt and a healthy amount of olive oil to coat on all sides on a heavy baking sheet. Put in the oven and roast, removing every 10 minutes or so to turn the pieces to prevent any from burning. It will probably take two or three flippings with the spatula and a total of 25-30 minutes in the oven until the pieces are soft all the way through. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit.

2. While the squash is roasting, bring a pot of water to boil and cook the tortellini according the directions on the package (will vary for fresh or frozen) then drain and toss with some olive oil in a large shallow bowl.

3. While the pasta and squash are cooking, wash and dry the greens and chop the herbs.

4. Combine the squash, tortellini, greens, herbs, cranberries, and pepitas in the large shallow bowl and top with freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste.

Red cabbage, carrot, cilantro slaw

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This quick Asian-inspired slaw works great as a side dish. Garden of Eating

I had half a head of red cabbage and a ton of fresh cilantro left over after making shrimp tacos last week so I decided to make something with them. My first thought was this divine little slaw I made up last winter but when I went in to grab the veggies, I noticed not one, but two bags of organic carrots cooling their heels in the crisper (no doubt the result of my faulty memory last time I bought groceries.)

So I changed course from a Mexican-inspired to an Asian-inspired slaw, pairing the veggies with sesame oil and rice vinegar instead of lime juice and honey.

Survey says... YUM! Carrots, cabbage and cilantro are a rather magical combo - crunchy, sweet and fresh. And mighty purty to look at, too.

Serves 4-6 as a side

2 cups grated or finely shredded carrot

2 cups finely shredded red cabbage (I used my handy-dandy mandolin - makes it a breeze!)

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, washed, dried and chopped

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (also known as just rice vinegar - they're the same thing but they're NOT the same thing as rice wine or mirin which is good stuff, but something else, altogether)

1/2 tablespoon sugar, maple syrup, or apricot jam, to taste

1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (you can also use peanut or olive oil)

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Combine the carrot, cabbage and cilantro in a bowl. Mix the other ingredients together and stir to allow the sugar (if you use sugar) to dissolve. Toss it all together and stir to combine.

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