Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Salad Days: Butternut Squash with Spiced Pecans and Roasted-Garlic Vinaigrette

We received several butternut squashes in the first two winter CSA pick-ups; most were roasted, mashed, and frozen for later use. It has been helpful to have on hand; I move it to the fridge in the morning, then heat it up in a casserole dish in the oven while I get the rest of the meal ready. (You could use a microwave, too, but I don't have one, so oven it is!) But I still had a few whole butternuts and I wanted to try something different, so I came up with this salad.

The butternut is cubed and roasted. Near the end of the cooking time, some garlic cloves are tossed in the oven; they become the basis for a crunchy, garlicky vinaigrette that is drizzled over the warm squash and fresh greens. The finishing touch is a spicy, sweet, crunchy sprinkle of pecans, pan-toasted with some butter and garam masala (yes, I love this spice mix!). The end result is a hearty and satisfying mix of textures and flavors. This salad was an experiment, and I would call it a success; Dan managed to wolf his down before I could even ask if he liked it (about five minutes after handing him the plate).

Butternut Squash Salad with Spiced Pecans and Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

1 small butternut squash
salad greens (enough for two people)
four cloves garlic
1 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard
salt, to taste

Set oven to 350. Roast whole squash for twenty minutes; remove and set aside until cool enough to comfortably handle. When cool, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds and stringy bits. Peel and chop into large (1") chunks. Spread on cookie sheet lightly greased with cooking spray (such as Pam). Return to oven and roast for another thirty minutes or until very tender, stirring occasionally.

While squash is roasting, wash and spin your greens and place in salad bowl.

When squash chunks have about fifteen minutes left, toss garlic cloves with one teaspoon olive oil in small baking or casserole dish; place in oven.

While garlic and squash roast, prepare your pecans. Melt butter in large saute pan over medium low heat. Add pecans and garam masala, stirring frequently for about five minutes, or until pecans smell nice and toasty.

Remove squash and garlic from oven. Place garlic in food processor with one tablespoon olive oil, cider vinegar, mustard, and salt, and blend. Add squash and vinaigrette to salad bowl and toss. Sprinkle pecans on top before serving.

No comments: