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Menu Monday: Back to School with Apples & Squash

If there was a ever a time I wish I vlogged, it would be now, so I could give you all a big ol’ “HELLO!” a la My Drunk Kitchen. (MDK is totally worth the clicks, btw. Harto’s antics crack me up without fail, and that’s saying something, Frederick!) Sadly, they say the camera adds 10lbs, so my video debut is still SEVERAL Pilates sessions away.

In any case, though, I can assure you I’m back from, well… let’s see: late-summer blogger malaise, crazy work (it’s year-end for Feds, and that’s about as much fun as a barrel of bubonic monkeys), serial party-throwing, and, oh yeah, a faboo week in Costa Rica (looks tragic, right?) communing with birds and frogs and snakes and monkeys of the non-bubonic variety.

Now, while I am absolutely a-twizzle with new fun things to write , I did want go get back into the swing of doing Menu Mondays. It’s one of the few things I’ve gotten good (ok, ANY) feedback on lately, so tally ho. And, since we’ve been luxuriating in deliciously crispy fall weather here in D.C. for the past few days, I thought a tasty meal that celebrated back-to-school, the impending harvest, and the no-longer-so-far-away holidays would be just the thing.

We kick off with a crisp, juicy salad of fennel and apples with a bright cider vinaigrette, and continue in that sweet-savory vein with a toothsome combination of roasted butternut squash, kale, and raisins tossed with pasta and Parmesan cheese. Plums nestled in a almond-y batter and quickly baked off make a suitably autumnal conclusion.
These dishes’ dependence on seasonal produce links them together in a very appealling fashion. If, however, you’re like Mr. T and look slightly askance at sweet-savory pairings, you can omit the raisins from the pasta and reduce the cider in the vinaigrette. I absolutely love them as they are, however, and I’d encourage you to try them as-is first.

This all would make for a not at all challenging weekend evening, and if you made the cake, roasted the squash, and prepared the salad dressing the night prior, this would totally be doable on a weeknight.

Menu Monday 3: Back to School

Fennel Apple Salad
Pilfered from the Hershey Resort’s foofy Italian-ish restaurant, this is bright, crisp, and puckery-sweet–the embodiment of fall.

Fall Pasta
I first made this on a campying trip (there was a cabin…) and has been a regular feature on the autumn menus of Chez Luc ever since. It’s robust and grounding without being heavy. Perfect for a pre-trick-or-treating dinner, I’d think.

Almond Plum Cake
Hmm… this one came about on a DIFFERENT camping trip (also with a cabin… I swear we do it in tents most of the time!). I’d been looking for a simpler riff on the much-beloved pear & frangipane tart, and this was it. No screwing around with crusts or anything, just a quick, rich batter and some cut-up fruit. Based on the effort put into it, this has no right being so good.

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