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
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My Favorite Summer Salad

June 29, 2010 § Leave a comment

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a fresh salad.  The lettuce at your local farmers’ market is crisp and fresh while the fruit, that usually goes on top of my summer salads, is juicy and sweet.  I want to share a recipe for one of my favorite summer salads.  It’s quick, easy, refreshing, and light.  I never get tired of this salad and it’s one of my quick and easy “go to” summer lunches.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Trader Joe’s Gorgonzola crumbles
  • Trader Joe’s Cranberry, Walnut, Gorgonzola dressing
  • Green leaf or Romane lettuce
  • 1/2 of an apple (I prefer Fuji or Honeycrisp apples)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup coarse chopped pecans
  • Salmon fillets (or another type of fish, cut into a tick steak or fillet)
  • An orange
  • 1 tbsp. orange marmalade
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  1. In the morning, mix 1 tbsp. of orange marmalade with the juice from 1/2 an orange.  Season your salmon with the citrus mix, salt, and pepper.
  2. When you are ready for lunch or dinner, preheat your oven to broil.  Don’t worry about the heat the oven will make, it won’t be on long enough to heat up your kitchen.  If you don’t want to use your oven, you could grill the salmon outside or use a cedar plank in your barbecue to cook the salmon.

3.  While your oven or grill is preheating, lightly coat your salmon with a thin layer of olive oil and top with thin orange halves (cut enough orange halves to cover the top of the fish).  Add some of the marinade to the top of the fish before it goes into the oven or on to the grill.

4.  Put the salmon in the oven for 5 minutes.  While the salmon is cooking, cut and rinse your lettuce.  Place the lettuce into a large salad bowl.

5.  After five minutes in the oven, turn the salmon over and cook it for an additional 6 minutes.  While the salmon is finishing up in the oven, cut your 1/2 of an apple into bite size slices.  Add the apples, pecans, Gorgonzola crumbles, and cranberries to the salad.  Add dressing and toss.  Add more dressing to taste (Start with a little dressing in the salad.  Remember it’s better to have too little than to have too much).

6.  Once the salmon has cooked through, take it out of the oven (this should only take the 6 minutes of cooking time in step 5.  If you have a very thick fish steak or fillet, it will take longer than 6 minutes.  Check on it every 2 minutes or so, until it is cooked completely).  Plate your salmon next to, or on top of, the salad.

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