A Trip to The Farmers’ Market: Caramelized Butternut Squash and Cranberry Salad

April 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

I went to the Framers’ Market this week to look at the seasonal vegetables and to let them decide what I was going to eat.  Everything looked so great, but I finally decided on butternut squash, beets, and some chard.  When I started putting everything away, my cat, Hank, was very curious of the new smells that I brought home.  It took him a good 20 minutes of exploring, batting, and sniffing to finally lose interest and go back to his cat nap on the sofa.

I decided to use the butternut squash in a salad and it turned out really well.  It was a great fusion of winter vegetables meeting spring greens.  The mustard dressing I made was a great contrast to the sweet butternut squash and cranberries.  I hope you this salad helps you look back on this winter and say hello to spring all in one bite.

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium butternut squash (4 to 6 pounds total)
  • 6 tbs. unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • arugula

Directions:

1.  Preheat your oven to 400º F.  Cut off and discard both ends of the butternut squash.  Peel the squash and cut them in half, lengthwise. Remove the seeds form the center of the squash (you can either roast these like pumpkin seeds or throw them away).  Dice up both butternut squash into 1 1/2 inch cubes.  Try to make the pieces as uniform as possible, so they all cook at the same rate.

2.  Place the diced butternut squash onto a large a roasting/baking sheet.  Make sure the baking sheet has sides.  Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to the baking sheet.  Use you hands to toss all of the ingredients on the sheet together.  Make sure you spread the squash into a single layer on the sheet.  Roast the squash for 30 minutes in the oven.

3.  After 30 minutes, toss the squash and add the cranberries to the squash.  Return the pan to the oven for another 20-25 minutes, until the squash has caramelize.  While the butternut squash is finishing off in the oven, toast your walnuts in a pan on low heat.  Keep a careful eye on the nuts, so they don’t burn.

4.  When the squash has cooked, take the baking sheet out of the oven and allow the squash to cool off (but still be warm).  While the squash is cooking, you can make the Dijon vinaigrette dressing or you can use a good quality store bought vinaigrette or honey mustard dressing on your salad.  Plate the arugula first, then the butternut squash and cranberries, and then the roasted walnuts on top.  Drizzle with Dijon vinaigrette.

Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup champagne vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 4 tsp. whole seed Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup and 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tbs. finely chopped shallot
  • fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

Butternut Squash Soup

January 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

This recipe was inspired by a newer addition to my cookbook collection: Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse Vegetables.  I love this book (along with its accompaniment Chez Panisse Fruit) – it has become my go-to reference when I return from the farmers market with bags full of veggies and want to try something new.  The book is organized by vegetable and has mouthwatering creations that showcase each vegetable’s unique flavors and qualities.

My favorite thing about this soup is that it is not a pureed.  Don’t get me wrong: I love pureed butternut squash soup, but there is something about the texture of the squash that makes me appreciate it more.  The butternut squash is certainly the star here – all other ingredients are intended to highlight the essence of the squash.  This soup is hearty enough to be served on a cold winter night, but also elegant enough to be served in a shot glass before a dinner party.

This recipe is simple and delicious.  Let me know if you enjoy it as much as I do!

Ingredients:

  • 2 small to medium butternut squash
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 head garlic
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut each squash in half and scoop out seeds.  Pour about 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each squash half and season with salt and pepper.  Place the squash flat side down onto a baking sheet.  Place 1/4 of a garlic (in its casing) and 1/4 of the rosemary into the cavity of the squash.  Place into oven and bake for 30-50 minutes or until squash is soft.
  • When squash is done, the stock to a simmer in a pot.  Gently scoop out the inside of the squash into the simmering stock.  Add the rosemary and squeeze out the garlic from its casing into the stock as well.  Season to taste.
  • Mash the squash bits inside the soup with a large fork until the mixture is a consistent quality.  Add butter and mix in.
  • Serve.

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