Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pepitas and Maple Vinaigrette

By Tom Liddy on January 29, 2013 8:12am 

NEW YORK CITY — Winter usually brings to mind warming dishes like soups and stews, but the chill in the air is no reason to go straight to the stove. 

Butternut squash is a versatile veggie, packed with Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium, which can turn a simple salad into a hearty meal.

Roast this powerhouse in the oven until it is golden and caramelized to bring out its inner sweetness.

Then toss it with spicy arugula and toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for a smoky warmth,  and add a nutty vinaigrette infused with maple syrup to take the dish to the next level.

A sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, which have vitamins A, C and B5, for sweetness and a creamy crumble of goat cheese rounds off this delicious dish.

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium butternut squash

Arugula (a couple of handfuls)

Pepitas (unsalted; pistachios are good too)

1 pomegranate, seeds removed

Red onion

White balsamic vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

Hazelnut oil (or another nut oil such as walnut)

Olive oil

Dijon mustard

Maple syrup

Thyme (fresh or dried)

Salt and pepper to taste

Goat cheese (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Slice butternut squash in half and scoop out the seeds. Peel the outsides with a vegetable peeler and dice (an inch or less is good).

3. Toss squash with olive oil, salt and pepper and put in a roasting pan.

4. Place in the oven and roast for 40-45 minutes, or until the squash is browned around the edges and a sharp knife easily passes through a piece. It will be very fragrant.

5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool (roasting the squash can be completed the night before to save time).

6. Take a couple of handfuls of the pepitas and cook in a pan over medium low heat until they’re brown but not burned. This will happen slowly at first, so watch them and toss them as needed.  They’ll also start to pop, so keep your face away from the pan.

7. Allow the pepitas to cool.

8. Meanwhile make the vinaigrette.

9. Whisk together two tablespoons of the vinegar, 1 tablespoon of mustard, a pinch of thyme, a drizzle of maple syrup and salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. The dressing should have a bite, but sweet undertones as well. If it’s too sweet, add vinegar. Acid can be counteracted by salt.

10. Drizzle in the nut oil while whisking briskly.  Stop when the vinaigrette is thick to avoid adding too much oil. (The mustard helps emulsify the dressing.)

11. Toss arugula with just enough vinaigrette to coat and plate immediately. Start with a couple of teaspoons and toss. Check by pulling out a leaf and tasting it. A little goes a long way and too much can wilt the lettuce.

12. Do the same with the butternut squash and red onion.

13. Sprinkle pepitas, pomegranate seeds and goat cheese on top.

14. Dig in.

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