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Warm Up Your Relationship with Time and Good Food!

By Mark Mulcahy

Romance and relationship building can sometimes get forgotten during the busy holiday season. Here’s an easy way to keep it on the front burner this winter.

No doubt you’ve heard of people splitting the check when they are out together, or splitting the difference when they can’t quite decide how to divide something up. But how about splitting the meal with many small plates and flavors? Not because you are on a budget, but because it is a fun and darn romantic way to eat with that special person in your life.

And, of course, splitting and sharing a meal at home can be more fun, less costly, and a heck of a lot more casual.

And it doesn’t have to be difficult.

Let’s start with a simple starter course of baked Melissa’s Organic Delicotta Squash rings.

Which is not only tasty but quite easy as well!

All you have to do is:

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Cut ends of squash off. Cut in half, lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon. Cut squash rings about ¼ inch.

Melt coconut oil ahead of time.

Toss squash rings with coconut oil and sea salt. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet.

Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, moving around with a spatula every 10 to 15 minutes.

Squash rings will get increasingly crisp and caramelized, so cook until desired texture and flavor are achieved. Serve hot!

It’s not a lot of food but the taste and pleasure will be sure to satisfy.

Follow it with a with this seasonal Arugula persimmon salad adapted from Veganista.

And top with orange vinaigrette that uses nice seasonal ingredients.

This salad is sure to keep your late autumn meal exciting, yet light and healthy.


Arugula with its assertive, sometimes fiery flavor is also known as salad rocket. With eight-times as much calcium content as iceberg lettuce, more vitamin C than any other salad green, and the same cancer fighting powers of broccoli, arugula is a green to notice. It’s good in salads of mixed greens and lettuce, delicious with pears, citrus or cheese. The loose baby-sized leaves and small, tender bunches are perfect for salads. The larger, mature bunches are just right for cooking. Cool growing conditions keep arugula mild and perfect for this dish, when summer comes it’s better cooked as hot weather makes it spicy.

Fuyu Persimmons

Fuyu persimmon is the perfect fruit for this salad. To start, with Fuyu in Japanese means winter. Fuyu persimmons are the flat, orange and squarishly round shape variety that is harvested and ready-to-eat when fully colored. The Fuyu is non-astringent so it can be eaten hard like an apple — you won’t get that offensive taste common with a hard, unripe Hachiya. For best flavor, allow them to soften slightly after harvest. Stay away from fruit with a green tinge as this is generally a sign of being picked too early and will affect the flavor.

Arugula & Persimmon Salad
Serves 2

2 cups Melissa’s Arugula
1 stalk hearts of palm, sliced
1/2 of a ripe persimmon, cored & thinly sliced
Handful of micro greens
1/4 cup candied pecans

Orange Vinaigrette from the Food Network

You’ll need

2 oranges, zested
2 small Melissa’s Organic Valencia Oranges, juiced or 1 large orange, juiced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 clove garlic, peeled
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a blender, combine the orange zest, orange juice, balsamic vinegar, honey, garlic, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth. With the blender running, add the olive oil in a steady stream until combined. Transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator.

Lastly, settle into this cheese course to end a fun dinner together. It is quick to prepare and easy to clean up as you are only using one pan. For me, this seems like the best of both worlds. You get the gooeyness of soft warm cheese, that spicy crunch from ginger snap cookies, and the mmmmmm factor of warm Melissa’s Organic Pears all touched off with a homemade caramel sauce.

Wow! Now who wouldn’t want to share this? I tell you what, it would certainly make a November date night to remember.

Caramel Roasted Pears With Cheese
(Adapted from a Slow fast food recipe in the Wall Street Journal a few years back.)

Total Time: 15 Minutes
Serves: 4

You’ll need

1 small (10- to 12-ounce) wheel soft, runny cheese such as Harbison or triple-cream Brie, room temperature
4 ginger snap cookies, crumbled
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 Melissa’s Organic Ripe Pears (preferably a soft-fleshed variety), cored and halved
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 sprigs organic thyme
2 tablespoons local raw honey
2 tablespoons organic cider vinegar

How to make it

Divide cheese and crumbled cookies evenly among four plates.

Set a small pan over medium heat. Once hot, add oil.

Season pears with salt and pepper.

Place pears, skin side up, in pan. Once surfaces of pears are caramelized, about 5 minutes, flip pears and add butter and thyme to pan.

Cook pears, constantly basting with butter, until warmed through and just fork tender, about 4 minutes.

Place one pear half over cheese on each plate.

Add honey and vinegar to pan with thyme and browned butter. Cook over medium heat until sauce begins to bubble aggressively, about one minute. Discard thyme and stir sauce until it darkens and thickens, about two minutes.

Drizzle caramel sauce over pears. Serve immediately.

Pear cooking tip

To cook the pears, first sear them in a hot pan to caramelize them, drawing out their sweetness. For best results baste repeatedly with the melted butter with the added fresh thyme after you flip the fruit.

Add a bit of cider vinegar to the honey-caramel sauce as it lends a tang to an otherwise sweet sauce.

While you’ll have many chances to be with lots of friends and loved ones this winter isn’t nice to share with just one.
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