Table For Two

Pair quality seasonal ingredients and smart preparations for date night in or dinner with a friend

PHOTOGRAPHS BY Helene Dujardin

Better Together – Research shows that people who regularly dine with company have a lower risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol than those who frequently eat alone. That makes dinner dates even more delicious!

Blood Orange Spritzer (Serves 2)

1/2 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (about 3 oranges) or the juice of another seasonal orange such as Cara Cara or Minneola
Juice of 1 lime
3 dashes nonalcoholic orange bitters (optional)
6 oz. tangerine-flavored (or regular) seltzer water
Orange slices, for garnish
Rosemary sprigs, for garnish

Mix the blood orange and lime juices. Add the bitters, if using. Divide into 2 cocktail glasses filled with ice. Top each with 3 ounces of seltzer water. Garnish with orange slices and rosemary sprigs.

Bartender’s Note: Nonalcoholic bitters lend a concentrated, cocktail-like flavor to this mocktail without the alcohol found in regular bitters.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 30 calories, 0g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 1mg sodium, 11g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 4g sugar, 1g protein

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower (Serves 2)

4 cups cauliflower florets
2 tsp. olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more for serving
2 Tbsp. buttermilk (can also substitute sour cream or milk)
Chives, for serving

In a large pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower florets, and simmer until tender, about 12 to 14 minutes. Drain, and let cool slightly.

In a small skillet over low heat, add the olive oil and minced garlic. Sauté until the garlic is fragrant and tender, 1 to 2 minutes.

Place the cauliflower, sautéd garlic, salt and pepper into a food processor. Blend until almost smooth, stopping once to scrape down the sides. Add the buttermilk, and process until smooth.

Serve topped with chopped chives and freshly ground pepper.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 106 calories, 5g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 1mg cholesterol, 659mg sodium, 11g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 3g sugar, 3g protein

Maple-Roasted Winter Squash Salad (Serves 2)

1 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 medium delicata squash
1 small red onion, quartered
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 cups mixed baby greens
Pomegranate seeds, for serving
Roasted pepitas, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, mix the maple syrup, 1 tablespoon olive oil and pepper.

Cut the squash in half, and discard the seeds. Cut the flesh into half-inch slices. Peel the onion, and cut into half-inch slices. Toss the squash and onion slices in the maple syrup mixture.

On a sheet tray, spread out the squash and onion slices. Roast for 25 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, apple cider vinegar and Dijon mustard to make a vinaigrette.

Toss the greens with the vinaigrette, then add the roasted squash and onions. Sprinkle the salad with pomegranate seeds and pepitas before serving.

Chef’s Note: No need to peel the delicata squash, as the skin becomes tender when cooked. If delicata is not available, try acorn squash, which can also be roasted in its peel.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 309 calories, 16g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 54mg sodium, 23g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 13g sugar, 3g protein

Pan-Seared Scallops with Parsley Pistachio Gremolata (Serves 2)

1/2 cup packed fresh parsley
1/4 cup roasted, unsalted pistachios
1 lemon
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp. salt, divided
8 fresh sea scallops (dry-packed)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

Roughly chop the parsley and pistachios, and place them in a small bowl.

Zest the lemon, and add the zest to the bowl. Add the juice of half the lemon, 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine. Set the gremolata aside.

Heat a medium cast-iron pan over high heat. Pat the scallops dry, and season with the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan. When the oil begins to smoke and the pan is very hot, add the scallops and sear for 1 to 2 minutes, until a golden crust forms. Flip the scallops, and sear on the other side for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.

Serve the scallops topped with the gremolata.

Know Your stuff: Scallops are packed either dry (over ice and without chemical additives) or wet (injected with a water and sodium preservative). Dry scallops sear better in the pan and have a creamier color than wet scallops, which are bright white.

Nutrition facts (per serving): 249 calories, 17g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 25mg cholesterol, 733mg sodium, 9g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 1g sugar, 16g protein