Babe's "Naked" Fruit & Veggie Salad ♥

Babe's Naked Fruit & Veggie Salad
Today's salad inspiration: A "naked" salad: No dressing. Not a drizzle of vinaigrette, not even a splash of lemon juice. What do we think, what makes a salad a salad? Is it the dressing? or what's dressed?

Back in June, a reader forwarded a recipe. (Thanks for the recipe, Mary!) She listed a few of my favorite ingredients for salads, romaine and chopped vegetables plus fresh fruit and dried fruit, coconut and a few nuts. The instructions were simple, "Cut all ingredients in medium pieces and mix together. Very delicious!" The recipe struck me as a fall salad so onto the stack it went until last week when it hit me, Hey wait, this salad has no salad dressing! Sure enough, said Mary when asked. "Actually, I like it without dressing."

My brain got to working. Is it the "dressing" that makes a collection of chopped veggies a salad? Do I ever make a salad without stirring in some sort of something to bind it all together? Admittedly, I was a little dubious – but fully prepared for a new food discovery too!

Pumpkin Hummus with Honey ♥

Pumpkin Hummus with Honey ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, traditional chickpea hummus recipe turned pretty, slightly sweet with pumpkin and a drizzle of honey. WW3.
Today's healthy hummus recipe: A traditional chickpea hummus, turned pretty and slightly sweet with pumpkin and a drizzle of honey.

Once upon a time, back BFB (before Facebook), back BiP (before iPhones, iPads and iLives), there was a food blog which published one hummus recipe after another. Week in, week out, hummus and more hummus and still more hummus. I've lost track of the blog but at the time, I wondered, Who can eat so much hummus?

I'm here to say: it happens! A couple of months back, a Syrian restaurant opened nearby. Their hummus is so creamy-dreamy, I don't want to know how much olive oil it takes to achieve ethereal dimensions.

So last week I set out to use up some of that kabocha squash "pumpkin" I've been roasting. (See Homemade Kabocha Squash "Pumpkin" Purée from Kitchen Parade, my food column.) Hummus came to mind – especially because the textures of roasted pumpkin and puréed garbanzo beans are so similar. Could I actually make a low-cal hummus?

Favorite Pumpkin Recipes ♥

Favorite Pumpkin Recipes
Just in time for "pumpkin season" – that's October and November in the northern hemisphere – my favorite pumpkin recipes, sweet and savory and everything in between.

BUT FIRST, A FEW FACTS
Pumpkins are for jack o' lanterns, sure -- and Cinderalla carriages and moonlit nights awaiting the Great Pumpkin.

But best of all, pumpkins are for eating! But don't try eating pumpkins grown for Halloween carvings, they'll be watery.

Instead, for cooking, choose anything except a carving pumpkin. In fact, my favorite "pumpkin" is called a kabocha squash (more information below). No surprise, though, pumpkins are part of the squash family.

In 2009 and again in 2011, pumpkins are in short supply. I've been reading about shortages of canned pumpkin purée.

When buying canned pumpkin, be sure to buy "100% pumpkin purée" which is 100% pumpkin and not "pumpkin pie mix" which is pumpkin mixed with spices and other ingredients.

It's easy to make your own pumpkin purée from scratch (recipe below) but canned pumpkin is more economical and, honestly, our taste buds have been trained to "like" canned pumpkin.