Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Parmesan and Warm Cider Vinaigrette
by Victoria Challancin
But on a lighter note, I will share with you this terrific fall and winter salad. Now that we finally have butternut squash available to us here in San Miguel de Allende, I can't seem to find enough ways to use them. And this salad is a perfect vehicle--healthy, seasonal, complex in flavors, and absolutely delicious.
In addition to just being a pretty dish, this salad is very healthy, and would have even been more so had I been able to use the arugula and watercress the original recipe calls for. Rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants, butternut squash is also low in fat (unless you load it with butter, as I usually do). It provides significant amounts of potassium and vitamin B6 as well. Perhaps most noteworthy as indicated by its rich orange hue, however, is the amount of carotenoids it contains--carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, as you probably know, have been shown to protect against heart disease. Walnuts provide additional health benefits: they boost brain power, lower cholesterol, increase sperm count, and may decrease breast cancer risk. A power-packed salad, this recipe is a winner!
Cook's Notes: Although I can usually find both arugula and watercress, this week I had to substitute a pretty green leaf lettuce. I used honey, which worked beautifully. Also, I chose to shave the cheese instead of grating it.
Recipe: Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Parmesan and Warm Cider Vinaigrette
(Adapted slightly from a recipe by Ina Garten, from The Barefoot Contessa)
1 (1 1/2 -pound) butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
Good olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar
Kosher salt and freshly round black pepper
3 tablespoons apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces baby arugula, watercress, or baby lettuce, washed and spun dry
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
3/4 cup freshly grated or shaved 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 black 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 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
©Victoria Challancin. All Rights Reserved.
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