Thursday, November 8, 2012

Girls and Ghouls Dine With Demeter

This past Halloween I opened my front door at six p.m. to let in Death, the High Priestess and The Star – otherwise known as three of my close girlfriends dressed up as representations of cards in the tarot’s major arcana. I was a breathing heart in a red ball gown in homage to The Lovers card and hostess of the evening’s Girls and Ghouls dinner as we took the opportunity to celebrate All’s Hallowed Eve modern-goddess style with some healthy, heart fueling food and rituals in the witchy hour to manifest internal and external goodness in our lives for a cycle of another year.

The only rules were that we had to make our dish from scratch using nutritious and life-affirming ingredients. What we ended up with was a plethora of Demeter the harvest queen-inspired dishes like beets with red onion and goat cheese, cauliflower and spinach medley, kale salad with tangy homemade dressing and my new favorite butternut squash pasta that I had concocted earlier that afternoon specifically for the occasion.

Of course, every dinner between goddesses would not be complete without high salutations to Bacchanalia.

We took the opportunity to honor death with conversations over dinner inspired by mortality and how little life we are all actually granted to live here on this planet. We all looked deep into our souls and psyches and shared, in the true spirit of sisterhood and seasonal renewal, those parts of us that we wished to shed, let go of, and grieve the loss of with all due respect. The ceremony of discussing this amongst ourselves over fine food provided a guttural spiritual cleansing and moment of witnessing for each other’s truest desires. We ended the evening with chocolate cheesecake and carrot cake dolloped with home whipped, non-sweetened cream.

That night when all had gone, I lay awake long past midnight feeling as if the ghosts of the past were cleansing my home, sweeping out the old and making way for the new.
Butternut Squash Farfalle with Fried Sage and Sunflower Seeds
Serves 2

1 medium butternut squash
1 small sweet onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
1/2 pound farfalle pasta
3/4 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
4 ounces high quality Parmesan, shredded or shaved (about a cup total)

Heat the oven to 375°. Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the strings and seeds the middle cavity. Flip the squash halves upside down and peel them. Cut the squash into 1-inch cubes. Toss with the onion, garlic, a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper. Mince about half of the fresh sage leaves and toss with the squash.

Spread the squash mixture in a thin layer on a large baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes or until the squash is soft.

Heat salted pasta water to boiling and cook the farfalle until al dente. Drain and set aside. As the squash finishes roasting, heat about two tablespoons of olive oil in a large high-sided sauté pan. Drop in the rest of the sage leaves and fry for about a minute.

Remove with a slotted spoon and salt lightly. Crush with the back of a spoon.

Add the pasta to the pan along with the roasted squash mixture. Crumble in half the sage. Cook, stirring frequently, for five minutes or until the pasta is heated through and getting crispy on some of the edges. Add the sunflower seeds and cook for another minute. Stir in  the cheese and serve.

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