These days, I find myself longing for the flavors of fall, only to step outside and discover that the seasons haven’t quite caught up with me. To make matters more confusing in this short season between blistering hot and biting cold, “winter” squash is a summer crop here in Central Texas. Our challenge is to find dishes that make the most of this funny season, providing full, rich flavors without weighing down the body or the palate. I love composed salads this time of year. More a main dish than something relegated to the side, this is exactly what I’m looking for–hearty, seasonal and soul-satisfying without being overwhelming.
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Hazelnuts & Manchego
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2″ cubes
several handfuls of arugula or baby salad greens, washed and spun dry
1/4 c. hazelnuts
2 oz. manchego cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
salt & pepper
2 Tbs. champagne or white wine vinegar
1 Tbs. whole grain mustard
1 large shallot, sliced thin
pinch of sugar
1/3 c. olive oil
Toss squash with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 375 for about 15-20 minutes, until caramelized and tender, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, place hazelnuts in a small pan and place in oven with squash for about 5-10 minutes. When nuts smell fragrant and begin to color, remove from oven and place on kitchen towel. Gather them in the towel and rub until the papery skins come off. Set aside to cool. Place vinegar, mustard, shallots, and pinch of sugar in a small bowl and whisk until sugar dissolves. Add olive oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly until emulsified. Chop hazelnuts coarsely and set aside. When squash is done, remove from the oven and toss with vinaigrette. Toss arugula or baby greens separately and pile onto serving platter. Scatter roasted squash and manchego on top and serve.