It’s rare that I blog about things I’ve just eaten. Usually I’m too lazy, or too busy, and the meals get filed into my brain to use in future posts.
But tonight, despite the dirty dishes on the counter, I am relaxed. I can also sleep in tomorrow. And, I want to write about how this meal tasted before I forget.
I often buy squash at the Strathcona County Farmers’ Market from August Organics, a stall on the East side of the market, closest to the front doors. There is usually a big pile of green and orange squash on one corner of the stand, with an info sheet about which squash is which, and how they all taste. I can’t always tell from the sheet which one I’m holding, so I have to ask one of the kind people who work there. A few times I’ve been helped by an adorably precocious boy.
Last weekend I bought quite an ugly-looking specimen, but I was told that it was dry and would be good for roasting. Roasting is one of my favourite ways to make squash, because it brings out the natural sweetness.
I remembered reading something on a food blog recently about a squash salad, so I did an online search and came up with Ina Garten’s recipe for roasted squash salad with warm cider vinaigrette.
The only annoying part of this recipe was peeling and scooping out the squash. The peel was tough and the seeds and membranes were hanging on for dear life.
Tonight I was dining alone. J had a long day and was already asleep in bed when I started the recipe (quite late, I must admit. I had a long day myself). So once the squash was done roasting, I made myself a one-plate serving with the greens, squash, raisins and cheese. When I spooned on the warm dressing, the aroma of parmesan drifted up to my nose. When I took a bite, the sweetness of the squash balanced perfectly with the sharpness of the parmesan cheese, and I tasted the tanginess of the cider vinaigrette.
I adapted the recipe quite a bit because of ingredients I didn’t have, and it still turned out great. I used mixed greens from the market instead of arugula, and raisins instead of cranberries. I left out the walnuts and the shallots entirely.
My only complaint was that the dressing had too much olive oil, since the vinegar mixture isn’t as strong as plain vinegar. I would add only a quarter cup next time.
I am looking forward to lunch tomorrow.
Roasted Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics
One squash (butternut or any other dry variety), about 1.5 to 2 pounds, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoon maple syrup
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons dried cranberries or raisins
3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots (optional)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
arugula or other salad greens
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Toss the squash with the maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Put it in a roasting pan and roast for 20-25 minutes, until soft and browned in places. Stir once or twice during the roasting. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last five minutes (I didn’t do this, but it would probably be good).
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 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup.
Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
If you are serving the entire salad immediately, 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. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
If you’d like to save some salad for leftovers, simply plate each portion individually. Start with the greens, add the squash, walnuts and parmesan, and spoon on the dressing.