Watching the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is truly hard breaking. This morning, after watching a mother’s cry for help because she lost her daughter during the disaster, I could not help my tears rushing down my face.
After watching the news, I needed a break from all the sadness and I did what I usually do when I feel sad.
Grab a couple of cookbooks, a cup of coffee, find a quiet corner, and lose myself in them. As I turn the pages full of beautiful food pictures, I feel the right side of my brain working overtime as I start thinking about different ways to combine ingredients to create tasty recipes.
There is something magical about creating something from scratch and making it look (and taste) delicious. It heals my soul. For me, it is the best way to work things out in my head.
After looking at the pretty pictures of Ina’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cookbook, I decided to make a big salad for lunch.
A salad that is light and full of flavors of fall.
This salad recipe, as in most of her other recipes, follow the same principle. Create a great dish using simple, everyday ingredients.
Ingredients like apple juice, butternut squash, shallots and salad greens that you can easily find during this time of the year.
Even on a small island in the Caribbean. If you know what I mean…
The vinaigrette in this recipe is what makes it really special. It is made by cooking a mixture of apple juice (or apple cider), cider vinegar, and minced shallots to reduce it to ¼ of its original amount. It is complete after some Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and pepper is added.
In my opinion, there are 2 things in this recipe that make it really stand out:
(1) Toasted walnut halves: It may seem like an unnecessary step but the nutty flavor of toasted walnuts add a smoky flavor to the greens and the roasted butternut squash.
(2) Freshly and coarsely grounded black pepper: Black pepper with the help of arugula helps to balance the sweetness of the vegetables and gives it a really nice kick.
If you are looking for a salad that compliments your Thanksgiving dinner table that not only looks pretty, but also tastes superb, this Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with warm cider vinaigrette should be on your list of things to make this year.
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
- 1 pound butternut squash peeled and cubed
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 1 tablespoon real maple syrup
- 2 teaspoon Kosher salt – divided
- 1 teaspoon black pepper coarsely grounded – divided
- 3 tablespoon cranberries or raisons
- 3/4 cup apple juice
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons shallots minced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
- 6-8 cups baby arugula or mixed greens
- 1/2 cup walnut halves toasted
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- Preheat the oven to 400 °F degrees.
- Mix maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1-teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a small cup.
- Place the butternut squash on a baking pan. Pour the maple syrup and olive oil mixture over it. Using your clean hands, toss it to ensure that all the butternut squash is coated with it.
- Place it in the oven and roast it for 20 minutes. Half way through, using a spatula, turn the butternut squash to make sure it roasts evenly. In the last 5 minutes add the cranberries to the pan.
- In the mean time make the vinaigrette. Place apple juice, cider vinegar and minced shallots in a small saucepan and cook in medium-high heat for 10-13 minutes until it is reduced to 1/4 cup.
- Once ready, off the heat, whisk in the Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon.
- Place the salad greens (or arugula) in a large salad bowl. Add the roasted butter squash and cranberries.
- Drizzle it with the vinaigrette. Give it a big toss. Taste and season it with salt and pepper, if necessary.
- Top it off with toasted walnuts and grated Parmesan cheese.
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics Cookbook- Pg:88