Saturday, November 13, 2010
Roasted Squash, Apple and Spinach Salad with Feta and Walnuts
It's pretty easy to see I really loved this salad. I’ve been inspired lately by a new cookbook, “Raising the Salad Bar,” by Catherine Walthers, to really think about, even plan -- a novel concept! – what’s going into a salad, what greens, what combinations of fruit or vegetables, instead of my usual habit of going to the fridge and just randomly gathering what’s there for a lunch. Half a pepper, a cuke, couple mushrooms, a carrot. Pretty boring. I was beginning to approach salads the same way I often do soups -- just chop this leftover and that and add broth or cream, some extra seasonings and have some kind of soup.
This was no leftover salad. Roasting the squash took some extra time, of course, but it was worth it. I’m still delighted to taste how roasting makes such a difference in vegetables! (Wrestling with the butternut squash to peel it, seed it, and get it cut into salad cubes was not so delightful. I’ll need more practice.)
And making the salad dressing, instead of just grabbing a bottle – my husband still loves and always will love his ranch dressing! – was also worth the tiny bit of extra time it took. Every time I make a dressing I tell myself I should do this more often. Usually, I just resort, a good resort, to sprinkling balsamic vinegar on any of my humble “whatever’s there” salads.
Actually, it was the squash from neighbor Dude and the bumper crop of our own apples that also helped with this salad. But I think I’ll be planning to make this one again. I might even get my husband to try my lemon dressing instead of ranch!
Roasted Butternut Squash, Spinach and Apple Salad
with Toasted Walnuts, Feta Cheese and Creamy Lemon Dressing
4 cups (about two small) cubed butternut squash
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 apple, unpeeled, cut in cubes
1 teaspoon lemon juice
10 ounces baby spinach, cleaned and stems trimmed
¼ cup toasted walnut pieces
¼ cup feta cheese
For Creamy Lemon Dressing
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1. To roast squash: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Then – using your best knife! – cut the peel away from the squash flesh and cut into ½ inch cubes. Toss the cubes with the olive oil and salt in a bowl, spread on a rimmed cookie sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring the cubes halfway through.
2. Cut the apple into cubes and toss with the 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
3. Make the dressing: Combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and combine well.
4. Combine the roasted squash cubes, spinach, apple and walnuts in a bowl and toss with dressing to coat. Sprinkle the feta cheese on top and serve. Makes 4 servings.