Blog Archive

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Parmesan and Warm Cider Vinaigrette

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Parmesan and Warm Cider Vinaigrette
by Victoria Challancin

Before I launch into this wonderful recipe, let me first send my heartfelt prayers and good wishes to all of my Australian readers and all of Australia as the fierce wildfires decimate especially the southeastern part of the country and Tasmania.  It makes me feel somewhat trivial to be writing blithely about something as mundane as a salad when I think of those of you worrying about your lives and homes.

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.

Like life and love, recipes are meant to be shared, but please ask permission before using text or photos.  Thanks.  


jennifer rose said...

I'm confused about the cranberries. How much? What kind?

Eha said...

What a delightful butternut pumpkin [ ;) !] recipe to put aside to be used in a few months. You are so right about its health aspects: but then, the brighter the colour, the better the food for you! You have added a number of ingredients which I am now dying to try and it surely looks addictive :) !

Thank you for your thoughts and understanding re our expected spate of bushfires [we have known about the danger this year for months]. Last count there were 140 in New South Wales alone, 40 of them uncontained. This is a vast country and there are untold variations on the theme. At the moment we have two days 'off' for the most wonderful Rural Fire Service [wolunteers mostly] in the world to do their best ere the temps go haywire again on Saturday. This has been the first time the word 'catastrophic' has become a descriptive term and yesterday, according to the authorities, we went 'off scale' even with that. But in between and betwixt, when we can get to the computer, perchance we need 'blithe' and 'mundane' matters to return to the normalities of tomorrow. Thank you, Victoria!

Hotly Spiced said...

Eha has given you a good description of how things are here. Yes, it's been incredibly hot but more dangerously, we've had extreme winds blowing the hottest air and it's this that is causing all the concern regarding the bush fires because that's how they can spread very quickly. What a gorgeous looking salad; so colourful and with great ingredients - perfect for our hot days and nights xx

Victoria of Flavors of the Sun said...

Jennifer, I just threw in a handful of dried cranberries because I thought they worked here. So glad to hear from you Aussies and to know you are all right. My thoughts are with you.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Victoria, thank you so much for the thoughtful comment. Yesterday was swelteringly hot, but those of us in Sydney are lucky compared to those who are in bush fire zones.

This salad looks incredibly good! Just what we all need at the moment :D

Eha said...

Truly my apologies to you and your beautiful pumpkin salad, but I have this gorgeous animal/'foodie' story! Well, not just the two-legged critters have been hot over here but the animals are suffering too: think of some of those fur coats! Now at Sydney's Taronga Zoo on the northern side of the Harbour, they are cared for just beautifully and the keepers have used a number of ways to make their charges more comfortable. The favourite voted by the animals are the huge ice blocks handed out for licking. But fussy about flavours they are!!! The zebras definitely demand carrot ones and the lions become pussycats when milk blocks are handed over! And others like the honey flavour, and others again fruit!! Bit of extra work also: you see all the animals are on strict calorie controlled diets, and the ingredients of the blocks have to be taken into account :D ! Google 'Taronga Park ice blocks' and you'll even get photos :) !

Victoria of Flavors of the Sun said...

That story made my day. Once again I have proof that Australia just has it together better than anyone else!

janet @ the taste space said...

Yes, very sad indeed about the fires... Btw, great choice with the squash. I've made this salad (without the cheese) and it is great. My friend also made it once with cider vinegar instead of apple cider and that worked too! (We added some vanilla to balance things out) - weird, eh? But it works!

Joan Nova said...

That's a wonderful salad. I love the salt/sweet combo and the mix of textures. What time is lunch? :)

My Kitchen Stories. said...

Thank you for your kind thoughts directed to our bushfire victims. I just left Queensland where it was 42 Deg C yesterday.
On to food and I adore anything with pumpkin, Cranberries would be a wonderful combination with this sweet vegetable . Lovely

minnie@thelady8home said...

Bushfires are such a reality....having lived in CA, I know how much of a threat they are every year.....

Beautiful dish!!!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Your salad looks terrific. I made a salad with butternut squash just the other day. I'll have to try yours the next time as it sounds wonderful.