I started craving squash and pumpkin a few weeks ago when I finally admitted to myself that fall was here to stay, but it wasn't until last week that I actually opened my first can of pumpkin and roasted my first squash!
While I like all types of squash (including delicata, acorn, and spaghetti), butternut squash is still my favourite of the bunch. Just give me a bowl of roasted butternut squash for dinner and I'll be happy! Of course, I'd have to kick it up a notch to turn that roasted squash into a recipe worth sharing with you guys, which is just what this Autumn salad is!
This recipe was adapted from the "Autumn Salad Plate" in my new cookbook Moosewood Restaurant Favorites (thanks to Janet of the taste space for the giveaway!). I loved the sounds of a giant salad full of fall flavours and ingredients like squash, pears, toasted nuts, dried cranberries, and a fruity pear dressing, so I naturally chose that recipe as the first one to try from the book.
And the best part about salad plates like this one is that you can easily adapt them to suit your own tastes - I added sliced red onion, goat cheese, and some toasted walnuts in addition to the pepitas, but you could leave any of those ingredients out and still have a delicious salad (I actually forgot to add the goat cheese until I was almost done eating and I liked it both with and without it).
This was definitely a jam-packed plate, which is just how I like my main dish salads to be! It had a nice balance of ingredients with the crisp pears and onion, the warm roasted squash, and crunchy nuts and seeds, all tossed in the sweet and creamy pear dressing.
With Canadian Thanksgiving coming up this weekend, I might end up making this recipe again because I think it would be the perfect salad to serve with the rest of the meal!
Pear & Roasted Squash Salad
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Favorites
1 ripe pear, cored and chopped (I used a Bosc pear)
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1-2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of cayenne (optional)
Place the pear, water, vinegar, oil, mustard, and 1 tsp maple syrup in a blender and puree until smooth. Add the spices and blend again. Taste and add more seasoning or maple syrup if desired.
Makes about 1 cup of dressing.
1 medium-sized butternut squash
1 tbsp olive oil
Half a red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
~8 cups mixed salad greens
1/4 cup dried cranberries
Goat cheese (optional - I used a fig flavoured goat cheese))
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise (I find it easier to do this after pricking it several times with a fork and microwaving it for 1 minute first). Scoop out the seeds and remove the skin using a knife. Cut each half into ½” horizontal slices (half-moon shapes). Toss squash pieces with the oil and spread out onto a large baking sheet (line the baking sheet with foil first if desired for easier cleanup). Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until tender.
Meanwhile, place the red onion slices in a bowl of water to soak for at least 10 minutes, then drain and set aside (this will help remove some of their bite). Place the pepitas and walnuts on a small baking sheet and toast in the oven with the squash for 5-8 minutes, until they are lighly browned and fragrant. Remove and transfer to a plate to cool.
Slice each pear into quarters and remove the core. Cut each quarter into very thin slices. Toss with a bit of lemon juice to prevent browning if desired.
Place desired amount of salad greens in a bowl (about 2 cups per serving) and pour a bit of the dressing over top. Toss to mix. Place salad greens on a plate and top each plate with 1/4 of the squash (you might want to cut the larger pieces in half first), 1/4 of the pear slices, 1/4 of the red onion slices, about 1 tbsp of cranberries, 1 tbsp each of the toasted pepitas and walnuts. Crumble a bit of goat cheese over top if desired. Drizzle more dressing over top of everything (you may not need all of the dressing).
Makes about 4 large servings.