Butternut Squash Grilled Pizza with Blue Cheese and Bacon

I am one of those pumpkin-crazed people who embraces all things, from lattes to ravioli and lip balm to candles. Fall squash is also one of my favorite things to cook with, and I particularly love sweet and creamy butternut squash, which is the star of my grilled pizza. A touch of maple syrup enhances the sweetness of mashed butternut squash, which is smothered on top of the crust and topped with sharp blue cheese, crispy bacon and toasted pecans. Cooler fall evenings are perfect for firing up the grill and enjoying dinner on the patio with your favorite beverage. Round out the meal with a fall salad, like spinach with apples or roasted beets.

Ingredients:
1 small butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
2 teaspoons butter, divided
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 homemade or store-bought pizza dough ball (about the size of a grapefruit)
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
⅓ cup blue cheese crumbles
5 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
¼ cup chopped pecans, toasted

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a small baking sheet, place squash halves flesh side up. Place 1 teaspoon of butter in the hollow of each squash. Roast until flesh is tender, about 50 to 60 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to touch. This step can be done several hours earlier or the day before.
  2. Scoop inside flesh of squash from skin and place in a food processor or blender. Add maple syrup and puree until velvety smooth, without any lumps.
  3. Roll and stretch pizza dough to a thin layer, about ⅛ inch thick and 12 to 14 inches in diameter. Prepare the grill for medium-high, indirect heat. For a gas grill, leave one or two burners off and for a charcoal grill, place coals on one side and use the coal free side.
  4. Place crust on the grill (a pizza peel is handy here) and cook for about five minutes, until top of crust starts to bubble and light brown grill marks appear on the bottom. Remove crust from the grill and place on a workable surface.
  5. Spread a thick layer of butternut squash on top of the cooked side of the crust. Top with mozzarella, blue cheese, bacon and pecans. Return pizza to the grill and continue cooking for about five minutes, until cheese has melted and light grill marks appear on the bottom of the crust. Remove from the grill, slice into 8 wedges and serve.

Servings: 4

Grilled Cabbage Wedge Salads

There’s something so beautiful about a wedge salad where you can see layers of green produce decorated with your favorite toppings. Instead of lettuce, I used cabbage grilled in foil packs with an orange-sage marinade that doubles as a warmed dressing. Crunchy bacon and melt-in-your-mouth blue cheese round out my Grilled Cabbage Wedge Salads. These are elegant enough for entertaining and simple enough to make on a busy night.

Ingredients:
1 medium head green cabbage, cored and cut into 4 wedges
1 orange
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

Directions:

  1. Place cabbage wedges in a shallow dish and zest orange on top of cabbage.
  2. In a small bowl, juice the orange. Whisk in olive oil, sage, salt and pepper. Pour mixture over cabbage wedges and marinade for 30 minutes.
  3. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Place each cabbage wedge over a sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle any marinade from the bottom of the dish over the cabbage. Seal foil tightly around wedges and grill for 8 to 10 minutes per side.
  4. Remove from grill, unwrap and serve with bacon and blue cheese crumbles.

Servings: 4

Massaged Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Massages are the ultimate way to relax and unwind. Kale responses similarly to the human body after a massage as its tough leaves chill out and become smooth and soft. It sounds a little silly to massage kale, but it is worth the extra work to transform this hardy vegetable into a more delicate leafy green.

A little olive oil and balsamic vinegar go a long way when massaging kale, but I like to serve it with extra oil and vinegar at the table to let family or guests drizzle more if desired. Cranberries, blue cheese and roasted sweet potatoes turn this salad into a meal that’s satisfying enough on its own. It also makes a nice side dish with roasted turkey or pork tenderloin.

Roasted Sweet Potato Ingredients:
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Salad Ingredients:
1 bunch kale
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup blue cheese crumbles
¼ cup dried cranberries
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place sweet potatoes on a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to evenly coat and arrange in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, flipping with a spatula halfway through cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, remove stems from kale and chop. Place kale in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Massage the leaves with clean hands for about two minutes, until well coated and kale begins to soften and wilt.
  3. Add blue cheese, cranberries, salt, pepper and roasted sweet potatoes. Toss to combine and serve.

Servings: 4

 

Steak and Zoodles with Blue Cheese Sauce

Sautéed zucchini makes an excellent side dish for a steak topped with blue cheese butter, but this dish goes a step further by combining all of those delicious flavors. Steak and Zoodles with Blue Cheese Sauce is a perfect summer meal when you are in the mood to fire up the grill and use your farm-fresh zucchini. Zoodles, made from zucchini noodles, are as fun to make as they are to eat. There are a lot of spiralizers on the market now, and having this kitchen gadget leads to endless possibilities for new takes on vegetables.

Ingredients:
4 medium zucchini, green or yellow
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups skim milk
4 ounces and 4 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese, divided
¼ teaspoon white pepper
16 ounces sirloin steak, grilled to desired degree of doneness and cut into thin strips

Directions:

  1. Spiralize zucchini into thin noodles. Place zoodles in a colander over a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour and cook another minute. Gradually add the milk, whisking as the sauce thickens. Reduce heat to lowest setting and add 4 ounces blue cheese and white pepper. Whisk together until cheese has melted.
  3. Place zoodles in a tea towel and gently squeeze over bowl to remove excess water. Place zoodles in skillet with blue cheese sauce and gently combine with the sauce. Cook for about two minutes, until heated through.
  4. To serve, top zoodles with equal amounts of steak and remaining blue cheese.

Servings: 4