It’s definitely one of my top holiday picks. It doesn’t matter if it’s gray and gloomy. Heck, it can snow and it often does. It doesn’t matter. Halloween is a magical night and just about every kid’s definition of paradise. First, you get to wear a costume. Second, you get to run around outside after dark. And third, people give you candy.
But how did all this start? Why the costumes? And moreover, why the candy? Halloween is steeped in myths and legends, some of them scary, many confusing and all of them intriguing. Halloween began a couple of thousand years ago in Ireland, Scotland and Wales not as Halloween but as Samhain, the Celtic end of summer.
The ancient Celts saw the change of seasons as a time of chaos. They believed that spirits roamed the earth before settling back down for the winter. Huge bonfires were lit to ward off evil spirits. People wore disguises so angry ancestors wouldn’t recognize them. Hoping for a blessing and good luck, food and gifts were left in doorways for the fairies and elves. Or maybe it was to placate angry spirits. Like I said, it’s all kind of a muddle.
Anyway, sometime around the 9th century the Pope proclaimed All Saints Day on November 1st. Since Samhain was celebrated on October 31st, it became known as All Hallows’ Eve, the eve of All Saints or hallowed souls. As often happens, the words somehow ran together and eventually morphed into Halloween.
Fast forward several centuries and not a lot has changed. In ancient times, restless spirits wandered the earth on All Hallows’ Eve. Now high-spirited children dressed as ghosts, pirates and princesses wander the streets. There is still food at the door but now it’s Reese cups, Nestlé’s Crunch and Snicker’s bars.
Let’s be clear here. Halloween is not just for kids. It is a wonderful excuse for a party. Foolish adults (like me) are all too happy to don a disguise. And no, the costume is not for hiding from canvassing politicians and their surrogates or even from restless ghosts. Collecting a stash of Milky Way bars is tempting but that’s not the reason either. Elaborate hats, capes and masks are all part of the merrymaking.
Once you’re in costume, and maybe feeling a tad foolish, a little liquid courage may be in order. Or it could be that you’re just thirsty. Stir up a concoction of pomegranate or cranberry juice and rum, maybe add a splash of triple sec. Don’t forget to give it name like The Zombie or Vampire Punch. After a glass or two, you’ll be ready to dance the night away. Especially if the playlist includes Monster Mash, I Put a Spell on You and Witchy Woman.
All this frivolity is sure to work up an appetite. Invite everyone to enjoy an array of festive autumnal tapas. Be sure to include a few nuts or seeds, pumpkin or sweet potato and beans. They’re super foods and you’ll want to keep up your strength for more dancing!
Have a spook-tacular Halloween! Bon appétit!
About 1 pound sweet potato, peeled and cut into chunks
2 teaspoons cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 onion, cut into chunks
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons or to taste puréed chipotle chile en adobo*
1 (15 ounce) can or about 2 cups cooked small white beans, rinsed and drained
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Put the sweet potato in a heavy, ovenproof skillet, sprinkle with cumin, salt and pepper, drizzle with enough equal parts olive oil and vinegar to lightly coat and toss to combine.
Roast the sweet potato at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and about 1 cup water, toss and return to the oven. Stirring once or twice, continue to roast until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes more. Remove the vegetables from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes.
Put the pumpkin seeds in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add the roasted vegetables, chipotle purée, lime zest and juice and 1-2 tablespoons vinegar and pulse to chop and combine.
Add the beans and pulse to combine. 1-2 tablespoons at a time, add about 1/2 cup water and up to 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil and process until more or less smooth. Check for seasoning and add salt and/or pepper to taste.
Let the hummus sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes or 2 hours in the refrigerator to combine the flavors.
Can be made ahead, covered and stored in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.
Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds and serve at room temperature with pita chips and fresh vegetables.
* Put 1 can of chiles en adobo in a mini food processor and process until smooth. Cover and store the purée in the refrigerator 1-2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
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One Year Ago – Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Squares
Two Years Ago – Mini Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
Three Years Ago Ago – Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Four Years Ago – Chicken in Every Pot
Five Years Ago – Roasted Carrots & Pearl Onions
Six Years Ago – Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto
Seven Years Ago – Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pearl Onions
Eight Years Ago – Mexican Chicken Soup
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!
What’s your favorite part of Halloween? The costumes, the candy, the parties? Feel free to share.
Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016