Greek Lentil Salad
Right Food for the Season - Early Spring
Written by Michelle Lahey   

The warmer weather can only mean one thing: cookout season is almost here.

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Most barbecues I attend feature grilled meats and veggies, with the typical salads to accompany them: pasta, potato, and/or a simple green salad. And although these

 nostalgic dishes are welcome cookout accompaniments, I’m looking to amp things up this year. Specifically with this Greek Lentil Salad.

Chocked full of spring-friendly green onions and fresh parsley, this protein-packed salad has all the flavors and textures you need for a satiating side dish. The salty olives and feta mixed with the fresh lemon juice and spicy onions makes each bite borderline addictive. The lentils are also like tiny little sponges that soak up every single flavor in the bowl.

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Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Right Food for the Season - Early Winter
Written by Michelle Lahey   

When I was little, I said I didn’t like Brussels sprouts because everyone else said they were “gross.” But I never even tried a Brussels sprout until I was well into my twenties – it was roasted to perfection, and ideally salty. From that moment on, my opinion of Brussels sprouts was forever changed. 

Brussels sprouts – which look like little baby cabbages - are one versatile leafy green vegetable, but my favorite way to prepare them is by roasting. Roasting any vegetable brings out their natural sweetness, and Brussels sprouts are no different. Roasting also gives them a delightful crispiness and texture.

Although the roasting method makes Brussels sprouts just sweet enough, adding a little maple syrup – this one from Ithaca, N.Y. – doesn’t hurt. The touch of maple syrup also gives the sprouts a glaze that’s borderline addicting. In this particular recipe, I also threw in some dried cranberries and roasted sunflower seeds for added texture, flavor, and color. The end result is a winter-friendly side dish that can be served with a variety of main dishes.

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Holy Mole! from Night Shift Brewing Co.
Local Libations - Local Libations
Written by Michelle Lahey   

Some people love the combination of chocolate with wine. Others love to pair their chocolate with a spicy, peppery beer. 

Night Shift Brewing Co.’s taproom regulars had been requesting a mix of their Viva Habanero and Taza Stout for quite a while - and the brewers finally gave in. A few weeks ago, they released Holy Mole!, a blend of these two popular brews. As a bonus, the blend was aged in Bourbon barrels, which were provided by Liquor World in Cambridge (the only store – besides the brewery – that got a few bottles to sell).

The bitter chocolate and cocoa blended with the smoky, spicy habanero is one successful fusion. The hint of bourbon in each sip just makes you want to cozy up to a fireplace and do nothing but sip on this 8.5% ABV beer. The heat from the peppers is slightly mellowed out from the smooth chocolate, fulfilling any spicy-and-sweet cravings you may have – while preventing the flavor from being too fiery.

I enjoyed each and every sip of this limited release brew on its own, but it is just light enough to play well with food. The slight richness from the stout also makes it decadent enough to have as an after dinner libation.

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Roasted Acorn Squash Soup For One
Right Food for the Season - Early Fall
Written by Michelle Lahey   

Growing up, fall meant jumping into a pile of leaves my parents just spent hours raking, then heading inside for a warm family meal. Because of these fond fall memories, this is by far my favorite time of the year – even though now I do the raking and the cooking. 

Roasted Acorn Squash Soup

Considering every autumn day as a kid ended with a comforting dinner, preparing similar meals in my own home during this season is borderline mandatory for me. I love dishes like chili, soup, and lasagna this time of year, chocked full of fall’s freshest bounty. And on a recent chilly fall evening – when my husband was away on business - I decided to use some leftover roasted acorn squash in a simple soup for one. This decision was one of the best ones I’ve made so far this fall.

The sweet maple syrup (from Ithaca, N.Y.) mixed with the savory onion and garlic provided me with a calming meal reminiscent of those I savored as a child. And if you’re cooking for more than one, simply double (or triple) this recipe as needed. [Quick note: you will not need the whole acorn squash for this recipe. Roasted acorn squash is a fabulous side dish on its own, so enjoy those leftovers!].

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Asta is in for 5th Annual Urban Barn Dance
Features - Chefs and Restaurants
Written by Michelle Lahey   

On October 6th, the 5th Annual Urban Barn Dance is taking place at Community Rowing, Inc. Presented by Mass Farmers Markets - a non-profit organization that partners with farmers, consumers, and communities to foster, enhance, and sustain local farmers' markets - this popular event features live [bluegrass] music, a silent auction, and food that reflects the fall season. The best news? This year's featured chef is Alex Crabb from Asta, which was also just voted Best New Restaurant by Boston Magazine

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