maple butternut bean salad [+ college]

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If by some miracle you are still out there and reading this, you’ll have probably noticed my absence during the past several months. The explanation is quite simple: college. Yes, my dear people, it is true. I just completed my first semester of college. And now that I can gaze back on it from the heavenly euphoria that is winter break, it is easy to say that I quite enjoyed it.

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In comparison with departing for Peru, heading off to college was a breeze. Instead of cramming the material objects that make life and my room my life and my room into a single, albeit enormous, suitcase, I packed three generous boxes full of clothing and books and folders and granola and such and piled them into the back of the van. Forget saying goodbye for three months; I could go home nearly every weekend if someone came and fetched me or if I hopped on a Greyhound. I could text and call and skype to my heart’s content. I could look forward to having a schedule of classes again. It was easy.

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And it felt so right. It’s funny. It happened before, when I graduated from high school. That was one of those landmark points that I had looked forward to all my life – anticipated, thought about, but never expected ever to arrive at just because it seemed so far off. Then I graduated, and it was the most natural thing in the world. Same with going to college. Being right where I should be right now, and most days it feels so right.

First Lady Michelle Obama!

First Lady Michelle Obama!

It is a bit strange on occasion  though. I’m a sophomore masquerading as a freshman, or at least that’s how I feel. Sometimes it’s laughable to think that my peers in the lowest strata of the student hierarchy are just out of high school, and that this time last year they had just finished grinding out essays for college applications and were looking ahead to senior proms and projects. I was just back from Peru. High school seems so long ago now.

A good day.

A good day.

Then again, it doesn’t feel so distant when I’m back home and cooking. One of the great tragedies of living at school – no, I mean the very worst part – is not being able to cook. Sure, theoretically I could store tiny quantities of basic ingredients in my half of my 12×18 dorm room and then tote everything to the third floor to cook in the grimy kitchen between classes and meetings. But, that is nothing short of absurdly unrealistic. Therefore, I eat lunch and dinner in the dining halls. Breakfast is homemade granola that I brought to school – more information and recipes about that in a later post.

A normal day.

A normal day.

Really, I have found meals in the dining halls to be not nearly as horrendous as I imagined. There’s always a well-stocked salad bar, fresh fruit, and some vegetarian options available amongst the deep-fried, white-flour-filled, and artificial other options. They even installed a fresh peanut butter grinding machine in each dining hall a few weeks after school started. What I most object to in the dining halls is the oil that seems to invade every dish. I am convinced that the sole task of some poor dining services employee is to ensure that every dish, whether animal, vegetable, or otherwise, does not leave the kitchen a sheen of oil coating all of its components. Alas.

But, hey. I am home now and back to cooking. And let me tell you: it is marvelous! You’re going to be inundated with recipes, guys. Watch out. Of course, the recipe of this post is way back from fall break.

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You can still find butternut squash in the grocery store at this time of the year, right? Of course right. I just bought some yesterday. Correction: Dad kindly picked some up for me.

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In my mind butternut squash is a year-round vegetable. It’s perfectly appropriate for eating in every season, but most especially in the colder ones.

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Butternut squash tastes good in lasagna, as fries, in bread, and in salads like this. It takes well to herbs and works in both sweet and savory dishes. Such stupendous versatility!

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Maple Butternut Bean Salad with Feta and Rosemary

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash
  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese crumbles

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

Peel the squash and slice it into half-inch cubes. Toss them with the olive oil, 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, and 1 tablespoon of rosemary. Spread them evenly on a baking sheet, and roast for about 20 minutes, until the squash is soft.

Once the squash is baked, gently combine it with the white beans and feta. Add the remainder of the maple syrup and rosemary to taste. Enjoy!

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8 comments

  1. This looks really delicious. I’m going to try it this coming week because I think it would sit very well as a warm salad with one of our Christmas meals. You must be really enjoying cooking at home again in your holidays.

  2. I enjoyed reading about your college experience. So glad it is agreeing with you. I think there is hope, in case I ever doubted. I will enjoy reading and even trying some of your recipes, but most of all, right now I will enjoy your cooking them when I get there this weekend. Should have stayed longer just for that reason. Love you, Grandma M.

  3. It’s great to have you back “on blog” so to speak and to read about your impressions of your first semester. Sounds like college agrees with you and we are delighted for you.We are now looking forward to your future recipes. Aunt Carol and Jan are making a stab at osso bucco for Xmas dinner. That is Jan was telling us he’s leaning towards trying it. It sounded delicious from his description. Have a great week cooking away to your heart’s content. Love, G.L.

  4. congrats on your return to school! I am also back in school, albeit for about the 5th time in my life and am doing it online from home, so still cooking as I can. And so, still enjoying winter break… am finally catching up on food blogs I’ve been meaning to read! This sounds wonderful. Thanks for sharing and good luck next semester!

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