Fall is finally in the air here in Texas (for one day at least) and I thought this Warm Butternut Squash Salad by Ina Garten would be perfect for lunch today. I did make a few changes to the original recipe, but otherwise followed the instructions faithfully.
First I need to discuss butternut squash. I had a big fight with my squash because it was as hard as a brick and my wonderful Wusthof knife couldn’t cut it without a lot of manipulating and bad words. Since I’ve never cut a butternut squash before, I looked it up online and made sure I knew the routine. Didn’t quite work out like the lady’s online did (and she was still smiling by the end of the video). I highly recommend you research a little bit before cutting one up, but you may know something I don’t. I’m really contemplating buying pre-cut squash next time.
Anyway…after the demon squash was chopped, I roasted it along with the berries (I used dried cranberries, blueberries, and strawberries), made the wonderful warm vinaigrette, toasted the walnuts, and grated the parmesan. The combination of these ingredients over the baby spinach was great. Sweet and savory, with the tang of dried fruit and crunch of walnuts.
The warm apple cider vinaigrette (I used apple juice) was perfect over the salad. Don’t overdress it or you’ll lose the individual components.
Would I make it again? Yes definitely, but I’ll strongly consider using pre-chopped butternut squash unless someone lets me know an easier way to cut one up!
**** Wonderful combination of vegetables and fruit with crunchy toasted walnuts over spinach with a flavorful warm apple cider vinaigrette. Adapted slightly from Ina Garten.
- 1 (1 1/2 lb) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4" chopped
- 1/2 C plus 2 tbsp Good Quality Olive Oil
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tbsp dried cranberries (I used a combination of dried cranberries, blueberries, strawberries)
- 3/4 C apple cider or apple juice
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp minced shallots
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 5 ounces baby spinach, washed and carefully dried
- 1/2 C walnuts, toasted
- 3/4 C freshly grated Parmesan
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Placed the chopped butternut squash on a light-colored sheet pan. Add 2 tbsp olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper and toss to cover all of the squash. Roast the squash for 15-20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the dried berries to the pan and toss - roast for for 5 more minutes.
While the squash is roasting, combine the apple juice, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 6-8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Set aside.
Place the spinach into a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, toasted walnuts, and grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Tips and Stuff:
To toast walnuts, put them in a small, dry, nonstick saucepan and turn the heat on medium. Stir occasionally for 3-4 minutes (do not let burn).
I added a slosh (about 1/2 tsp.) of maple syrup to the dressing while whisking. I like the flavor of it.
The original recipe calls for arugula instead of spinach, but I like spinach better!
Serve immediately since there's warm squash and warm dressing. This would be great without the squash and with some chopped cooked chicken.