Spicing Things Up

Cauliflower and squash – these seasonal crops can be rather uninspiring when taken at face value. Yet it is this very insipidity that provides a perfect blank canvas for some truly amazing dishes. The other night I hosted a “girl’s night in” with two very close friends of mine – these evenings are often characterized by simple eats, bubbly drinks and thoughtful conversations (with the occasional touch of meaningless gossip, of course). While the latter two require minimal effort, I focus the majority of my planning energy on the first. Simple doesn’t meaning flavorless, in my world, so I tried to showcase dishes that give the most bang for the buck. With the right amount of spice, these two did not fail to please – Curried Butternut Squash Soup and Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Salted Yogurt and Pomegranate Seeds.
I should give butternut squash more credit, perhaps – it is one of my favorite winter squashes. it achieves a taste that’s somewhere between a sweet potato and pumpkin. Roasting is the most common preparation, which helps deepen its natural sweetness.  The term “winter squash” pertains not to its growing season, but to its ability to withstand storage (post-harvest) during colder climates. This is thanks to a tough outer skin (as opposed to the thinner skin of summer squash), allowing us to enjoy this hearty squash year-round.
This soup gets a boost from a potpourri of spices – a potent mix of curry, cumin and mustard seeds. What I like about this recipe is that its creaminess relies on the squash (rather than cream). Using a blender or processor works great, but I am a personal fan of immersion blenders (less mess = happy Anne). Any who, this soup is wonderfully simple yet beautifully flavorful. If you are looking for a quick dish that packs a LOT of flavor, this is it – click HERE to learn how to make this flavorful dish.
The pomegranate – as beautiful as it is sweet, this fruit has held symbolic relevance in a number of cultures. Whether signifying authority, death, or fertility, this fruit has a number of connotations. Aside from its aesthetic (and suggestive) references, the pomegranate is also endorsed for its health benefits. That being said, it’s no picnic to peel – I suggest opening the fruit in a bowl filled with cold water (prevents stains AND assists with peel removal).
This dish was beyond amazing – it was fantastic! Roasted cauliflower on its own is one thing, but paired with cumin, pomegranates, and yogurt?? Well, let’s just say you’ve found your new side dish “candy.” With a spicy edge and sweet touch, this dish has it all. The yogurt is a creamy (yet healthy) garnish, and the pomegranate seeds add a beautiful finish. Don’t hesitate on making this fabulous recipe – click HERE to learn how. 
In researching the ingredients of these two dishes, I discovered a shared trait between them – both have ingredients that are commended “aphrodisiacs,” being the curry and pomegranate. This led me to a very obvious selection: Danse Bacchanale, a fiery dance from the opera Samson et Dalila, by Camille Saint-Saëns. While I’m not necessarily affiliating love with the blatancy of the bacchanalian character, the passion of this work certainly lives up to the spices and flavor of these dishes – enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4TrxDKsMHI&feature=related 

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