Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

This is, hands down, my absolute favorite fall salad.  I have been obsessed with butternut squash to a frightening degree this season and cannot stop eating it.  I have made this salad no less than four times in the past two weeks because it is that good!  Plus, Paul also really, really likes it.  He is obsessed with arugula almost as much as I am obsessed with squash.

The recipe is infinitely adaptable.  I have used roasted, cubed sweet potatoes instead of the squash.  The Parmesan has been switched out for other salty cheeses, such as Gorgonzola or Feta.  Hate Walnuts?  Use roasted pecans instead!  I also like to occasionally throw a handful of roasted pumpkin seeds on top, because I like them so much.  But only when I plan on eating the whole batch by myself (Paul scorns all seeds that are not sunflower!).

This would make a delicious and different salad to serve at Thanksgiving dinner!

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
adapted from The Barefoot Contessa

For the squash:

1 1/2-pounds butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Maple Syrup (do not use maple-flavored pancake syrup)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons dried cranberries

For the vinaigrette:
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
1/4 - 1/2 cup olive oil

For the salad:
4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1/2 cup walnuts halves, toasted
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Pour everything into the blender along with the mustard, maple syrup, salt, and pepper.  Give it a good whiz until everything is combined.  Slowly add in the oil, beginning with 1/4 cup.  Add more if the dressing is not thick enough, but usually I find that a little over 1/3 cup is usually the right amount of oil for this dressing otherwise it is a bit too oily.

Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Serve immediately.

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