Come Christmas time, my family gathers at my parents’ home in southern California. There’s a single pomegranate tree in our backyard, and every winter my mom saves the best one for me. This simple side dish is a way to honor those jewels of winter. I always try to make something simple, seasonal, delicious and vibrantly healthy (and okay, I also want it to be photogenic). Ultimately, I want my loved ones to live long and healthy lives, so tasty yet ridiculously healthy food is my love language. Bonus: this dish is so simple, you won’t be stuck (or getting in anyone’s way) in the kitchen for long.
Tip: Use a circular ravioli or cookie cutter to remove seeds from each ring. This makes it easy to have a visually pleasing center cutout with clean edges.
Curried Acorn Squash with Pistachios and Pomegranates
Prep: 15 min | Cook: 20 min | Rest: 10 min | Total: 45 min
2 small acorn squash, 2-3 lbs each, cut into 1″ rings (about 3 rings per squash)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup pomegranate arils (1 small pomegranate; you may have extra)
1/2 cup pistachio kernels
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 400ºF for at least 15 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and dry the produce. Remove pomegranate arils by quartering the pomegranate and loosening arils from the skin underwater in a large bowl; drain. On a large baking sheet, arrange acorn squash rings in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil, curry powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine. Add to oven and bake for 20 minutes, or to desired doneness (fork should easily pierce the skin). Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes, season to taste. Transfer to serving platter and generously garnish with pistachios and pomegranate arils. Serve immediately.
MIND diet foods: Vegetables, olive oil, nuts, berries
The height of summer means stone fruit, and that includes cherries. Deep red cherries add a sweet, mildly tart and bright note to the nutty and earthy base notes of the farro in this whole grain salad. Pickled cucumbers and shallots add another dimension of contrasting flavor, texture, and temperature. The magic is in the medley and how all these flavors play together and in reaction to each other.
MIND foods: whole grains, vegetables, nuts, berries
Prep: 10-15 min | Cook: 15-20 min | Total: 25-35 min
1.5 cups farro (here’s a 10-minute farro that’s good for busy weeknights)
1 medium-large cucumber, skin peeled in stripes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, halved lengthwise again, and chopped (will be 1.5-2 cups when chopped)
2 medium shallots, peeled, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced (will be about a 1/2 cup loosely packed)
2 large handfuls of fresh red cherries, pitted and roughly chopped (about 30 cherries; will be about 1 cup roughly chopped)
2 T coconut vinegar
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup roasted and lightly salted pistachios, roughly chopped (reserve a small handful for garnish)
Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare farro according to package instructions. While farro is cooking, wash, dry and prep all produce. In a medium bowl, combine cucumbers, shallots and vinegar, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Let marinate for at least 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When farro is done cooking, thoroughly drain and then transfer to a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season to taste. Fold in cherries, cucumber-shallot mixture and pistachios just before serving. Top with reserved pistachios. Enjoy.
Tip: Get the kids involved! Have kids wash their hands and help remove thyme leaves and cherry pits.