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Two weeks ago, I promised you that I’d share the recipe for the utterly fantastic salad I served alongside the various soups at my Watch Party. I said I’d share it the following week.
Obviously, I didn’t follow through on that promise. Sorry. If you could see my kitchen right now (and there is no way I’m letting you do that) you’d see that I’m up to my earlobes in boxes, wrapping paper, and ribbons, and…Well, you get the picture. Chances are, it’s the same at your house this week.
Anyway, back to that salad. I love salad. In summer.
For some reason, about the time the leaves turn colors and start to drop, so does my interest in eating salad. When the weather turns cold, I want my vegetables warm and start making a lot of soup.
However, if you invite people over for a soup and salad supper, you’ve got to come up with a salad. I went searching for something delicious and pretty and bright, with a balance of sweet and savory flavors that was still bright and fresh, a salad to wake up a sleepy winter palate. It was a tall order.
First stop, Ina Garten, my culinary heroine. She did not disappoint. She rarely does. The woman may be my spirit animal. Or perhaps my patronus.
Whichever she is, Ina saved the day. Her Roasted Butternut Squash and Cider Vinaigrette was exactly what I was l needed.
Slimming it Down, Zesting it Up
Well, almost. I made a few adjustments.
A lot of people find arugula bitter so I switched it out for a mix of baby lettuces and herbs – flat leaf parsley and basil – to keep the flavors bright and fresh with just a tiny bite.
Also, Ina’s recipe calls for Parmesan cheese, quite a bit of it. Which would have been delicious, I’m sure. But there was already a lot of good stuff going on in this salad. So, to avoid gilding the lily, but also in the interest of saving my calories for dessert, I left out the cheese.
Topped with a jewel-like mix of gorgeous roasted squash and bright dried cranberries, paired with sweet-and-sour vinaigrette of apple cider and shallots, this is the most perfect winter salad.
Give it a try.
Adapted from Ina Garten.
- 1 medium butternut squash (about a pound and a half) peeled, seeded, and cut into a ¾ inch dice
- Olive oil
- 1 T maple syrup
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup apple cider or juice
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons shallots
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 4 ounces baby lettuces, washed and dried
- 1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, leaves only
- ½ cup basil, loosely packed, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Mix 2 tablespoons olive oil, maple syrup, 1 t. salt, and ½ t pepper in a small bowl. Place squash on a rimmed cookie sheet or roasting pan. Pour olive oil/syrup mixture over squash. Use wooden spoon to stir squash, making sure it is coated with the oil mixture. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once. Add the cranberries to the pan durig the last 5 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, make the vinaigrette. Combine cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until the cider is reduced to about ¼ cup. Take the pan off the heat. Whisk in the mustard, ½ cup of olive oil, 1 t. salt, and ½ t. pepper.
Toss the lettuce, parsley, and basil in a large bowl. Add the squash mixture and the walnuts. Pour vinaigrette over salad and toss.
Keywords: butternut squash salad, weight watchers freestyle, healthy winter recipes, winter salads