With all the craziness of non-stop family, friends, and entertaining for Brian’s birthday weekend it was time to sit back and enjoy life for a bit. Time to take it all in and enjoy the beautiful autumn weather we were experiencing.
The fun part of all the autumn and fall foods are the squashes that you start to see. Acorn, delicata, pumpkin, or butternut – there are so many I can go on and on. Roasting any of them is great. I love the simplicity of coating them in a bit of olive oil, sprinkling them with sea salt and black pepper, then placing them in a hot oven to roast for a bit. Doing this lets their flavors intensify, and the natural earthy sweetness is more prevalent. In my personal opinion the only other thing that has a “fall” or and “autumn” flavor as much as the squash are nuts.
Now I love the bold flavors of roasting any of these squash, but we just came off of a week of eating and indulging in more than we possible should have. Something simple, something like a salad was more in order. So I decided on using what was freshest at the farmer’s markets this past week representing a last of the summer harvest and the newest of the autumn. A lovely head of red leafed lettuce, the first of the delicata squash, a great bunch of chives, and some freshly pulled mozzarella. When you put it all together with some crunchy croutons are all the makings of a great salad. It was fresh and bright. It was satisfying and refreshing to eat. Not to mention real easy to mix up. Put one salad together and see for yourself. It is perfect for these great autumn days.
Roasted Squash Salad (feeds 4)
1 medium Delicata Squash; trimmed, seeded, and sliced
1 small head of red leafed lettuce (like butter or romaine); trimmed, washed, and chopped
1 – 2 balls of Fresh Mozzarella, sliced thin
¾ cup of Pistachios
2 cups of Freshly Made Croutons
1 bunch of chives (about ¼ cup)
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp of Dijon mustard
1 tbsp of Honey
Bread (day or two old is best), sliced into 1 – 2 inch cubes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
First, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Toss your squash with a bit of olive oil (enough to cover) and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt and black pepper over it all and roast about 3 minutes, rotating it half way through. Roast it until tender when pierced with a knife and set aside to cool.
Next, in a bowl place your bread cubes. Drizzle it all with a bit of olive oil and toss a few times to coat them evenly. Sprinkle them with sea salt and black pepper and toss again. Spread you bread cubes on a sheet pan and place in the oven to “dry out” and toast. Timing will depend of type of bread and how dry it was to start. Bake them tossing them every so often until they are golden and toasty; set them aside to cool.
Meanwhile; on a platter arrange your salad by layering your lettuce, squash, mozzarella, and sprinkle it all with the pistachios and croutons. In a blender or food processor place your vinegar, Dijon, honey, and chives. Pulse it all together to begin to break it all down. While doing this drizzle in about ½ a cup or more of your olive oil until it is all emulsified and you end up with a slightly thick dressing. Sprinkle it with sea salt and black pepper to taste.
Finally, divide up the salad on your plates. When serving the salad keep the dressing on the side so that guest can add as much as they like.