Thursday, February 17, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette
This salad has become a favorite of late.  It takes one of my best-loved winter vegetables, butternut squash, and makes it a genuine star.  And although the backdrop is a salad, it's anything but boring or unfulfilling.  To the contrary, it's full of flavors and textures that will keep your taste buds popping.

Combine the sweet, maple-roasted squash with the crunch of toasted walnuts, the slight tartness of dried cranberries, the zing of Parmesan cheese and the brightness of cider vinaigrette, and you've got one flavor-texture explosion after another.  And besides the time it takes to roast the squash, it comes together rather quickly.

I like it so much, in fact, that it's made its way to my table as a satisfying entree, as well as a decadent side dish during the holiday season.  Give it a try; I think you'll become an adoring fan, too.

Happy Eating!

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Warm Cider Vinaigrette

1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch) diced
Olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces mixed field greens
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 30 to 35 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes. 

While the squash is roasting, combine the 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 of pepper.

Place the field greens 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.
*Recipe Adapted from Ina Garten  

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