I’m going to be honest: today is all about the season 5 premiere of The Walking Dead.
Tonight, 9pm EST on AMC. The Walking Dead.
Who’s with me?! Okay, okay, I’m going to share a nerdy factoid with y’all today.
Of course, if you’re drooling over this recipe (like I am as I write this!), then just scroll to the bottom and get cooking!
Lu affectionately calls me a nerd. It’s kind of a joke between the two of us. The main reason? I’m a huge Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. While the series is over, I still revisit my DVDs (I’ve got all seasons, duh!) and whenever it comes on a syndicated channel, I geek out and have to watch at least 5 minutes. I know every lyric to their musical episode and admittedly, every single one of my Jansport backpacks in middle school were monogrammed with Buffy…. my name is Ali. Enough said, there.
So, you see, I’m really into The Walking Dead because, I love everything remotely haunted. Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday, although I always choke in the end and never have a great costume. Since college, I’ve only dressed up a couple of times and the first time was for work and I was Snow White and the second time, I was Mark Sanchez. Nothing exciting.
Actually, the last time I dressed up for Halloween was the weekend of Hurricane Sandy. The storm was coming, but since Lu’s birthday is on October 30th, I wanted to be festive and go out and keep the spirited celebration. I wore a black dress and stockings and on the way to some nightclub in New York City (I was living in Hoboken at the time), I stopped at a Halloween store and bought kitten ears and drew whiskers on my cheeks. How predictable.
I’m not kidding:
This year, I’m determined to dress up and really embrace the Halloween spirit. Two of my best friends (and bridesmaids!!) are in town, so what greater reason to celebrate than spending time with friends that aren’t always around?
Now, for the recipe. This is absolutely something you could make as a Thanksgiving side. Consider it like a pilaf – with lentils, rice and sweet veggies and fruits. The leeks do wonders in this pilaf and the lentils offer a thick texture and a healthy source of protein. My favorite? The cranberries!
It’s crucial when you’re buying dried fruits to read the ingredient list. You’ll find a whole slew of unhealthy add-ons if you’re not careful (ie sugar.) Try to find ones that are sweetened with apple juice, instead of sugar. If you can’t, they might be a little tart OR they’ll have refined sugar (if you can’t find one without sugar, try to find one that says “organic cane sugar” or “evaporated cane juice.”) You can’t always win ’em all!
This pilaf is also soft and fluffy, perfect for pairing with that Thanksgiving roast or even Thursday’s pork chops. Your friends and family will appreciate the healthy side dish (instead of an icky casserole.) Or, just save it for a fall get together- this pilaf has rich, savory flavors that will warm you up and make you feel great afterwards.
If you haven’t forgotten about my Buffy the Vampire Slayer days and still love me, then, well, I love you too. A la Taylor Swift, we just need to embrace ourselves and shake it off!
What are you being for Halloween? Inspire me!
Nutritional Information & Recipe
Fall Harvest Butternut Squash Rice and Lentil Pilaf
- For the pilaf:
- ½ cup dry lentils any type works, rinsed
- 1 cup water
- 1 medium butternut squash peeled, Blade C
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon fresh chopped rosemary
- ½ sweet Vidalia onion
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 cup sliced leeks
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup dried cranberries unsweetened – no sugar added
- Place lentils and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until cooked through. Add more water to always slightly cover the lentils, as needed.
- After lentils are cooked, place the butternut squash noodles in a food processor and pulse until rice-like. Set aside. Dice the Vidalia onion, celery and mince the garlic cloves. Set aside.
- Place a large skillet over medium heat and add in the olive oil. Once heated, add in the garlic and rosemary and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add in the celery, onion and leeks, cook for 2-3 minutes or until onions are translucent and then add the butternut squash rice and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir the butternut squash rice to combine and cover and cook for 5-8 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, or until cooked through (taste.) If the squash is still crunchy, cover the skillet and cook for 2-3 more minutes.
- When done, add in the lentils, walnuts, cranberries and stir to combine for 1-2 minutes to warm up the cranberries. Serve immediately.